The bus plays a key role in shaping the future of mobility. The bus is the backbone of public local transport, accounting for an impressive share of more than 45 percent of the total transport volume in this segment. No other means of public local transport is as flexible, environmentally friendly, safe and economical.

With its full-line product range, the Mercedes-Benz Bus and Coach unit covers the entire spectrum of customers’ requirements in the field of public local transport.The Mercedes-Benz Citaro offers local bus operators a broad scope of tailor-made solutions ranging from the compact Citaro K measuring 10.5 m in length to the four-axle, 19.54 m long CapaCity.

The product range is rounded off by the Integro, which can be deployed on both inter-urban and regular services. Offering three different length variants on two or three axles, the two-door specialist covers the entire spectrum from short regular suburban service routes to long-haul inter-urban operations. It is equally ideal for shuttle services and excursions. With this accomplished blend of comfort and economy and its versatility, the Integro represents a particularly cost-effective solution as a “double earner” combining two roles: serving as a regular service bus during the week, at the weekend it can be used for excursions, weekend trips, etc., ensuring that it is put to maximum use.

The task of covering the full spectrum of transport requirements does not fall to the “big movers” alone, however. The more modestly sized options also have a major role to play. The success story of the current generation of Mercedes-Benz minibuses, comprising the four model series Sprinter Transfer, Sprinter Travel, Sprinter City and Sprinter Mobility with a total of 12 basic models, got underway at the beginning of 2006. Developed for use in urban, inter-urban, touring and mobility operations, these minibuses are based on the current Sprinter generation. The programme essentially consists of minibuses in five lengths ranging from 5.9 m to 7.7 m. The Sprinter Transfer is a versatile minibus for rural regular services and excursions. The Sprinter Travel is ideal for excursions and touring over greater distances. The Sprinter Mobility is designed for the transportation of passengers with restricted mobility. Finally, the Sprinter City is the model line offering a low-floor concept for deployment on urban regular services. It is a real specialist for regular services in towns and cities. The Sprinter City is available in two variants. The compact Sprinter City 35 (length: 6.9 m, up to 22 passenger seats) is based on a modified panel van, while the second model, the larger Sprinter City 65 (length: 7.7 m, maximum of 30 passenger seats), is instantly recognisable by its distinctive body featuring a supporting framework and panoramic windows. A two-wing outward-swinging door at the front predestines both models for urban transport operations. A new addition to the programme is the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 77. The Sprinter 77 had its world premiere at the 63rd International Motor Show in Hanover. Mini to the max: up to the B-pillar, the three-axle 8.7 m long urban bus corresponds to a conventional Sprinter. The bus body with a double rear axle and low-floor design along its entire length is an exclusive in-house development for the Sprinter City 77. With a capacity of 40 passengers, it closes the gap between the Sprinter City 65 and the Citaro K. The new Sprinter City 77 is around one metre longer than the previous top-of-the-line City 65 model and is able to accommodate up to ten more passenger seats, depending on the interior appointments. The permissible gross weight of 6.8 t provides the basis for the vehicle’s high transport capacity.

The Citaro – pioneering alternative drives
The standard engines in the Mercedes-Benz Citaro are Euro V units based on BlueTec diesel technology. The engines are optionally available in variants complying with the recently raised EEV (Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicle) standards on exhaust emissions, which currently stipulate the most stringent emissions levels in Europe. The Citaro is now able to comply with EEV emission levels by means of internal engine measures alone and without a particulate filter. Optionally, it also remains possible to have a particulate filter fitted.

In addition to the diesel-powered vehicles, the Citaro range also includes regular-service buses with natural gas drives. The Citaro CNG is available as a rigid or articulated bus.

The Citaro G BlueTec Hybrid featuring a diesel-electric hybrid drive was added to the product range in 2010.It represents a step along the way from the diesel engine to standard deployment of the fuel cell to power vehicles. Its serial diesel-electric hybrid drive enables extremely quiet and emission-free driving over several kilometres. The compact four-cylinder diesel engine with a displacement of just 4.8 l does not operate as the constant drive unit, rather serving as a generator to supply electric power as required. This electricity is stored in maintenance-free lithium-ion batteries on the roof of the Citaro. The energy which is recovered during braking is also supplied to the batteries. With a capacity of 27 kWh, this is one of the most powerful vehicle batteries of its type worldwide. Four electric wheel hub motors on the centre and rear axle of the articulated bus apply the drive power to the wheels. The total power output of 320 kW is ample for an articulated bus, even under difficult operating conditions. The electric drive powers all auxiliary units, enabling the Citaro G BlueTec Hybrid to run on electric power alone at bus stops and traffic lights. This means practically zero emissions, combined with a drastic reduction in noise levels. Depending on the conditions of use, the development engineers have calculated that the hybrid drive will cut fuel consumption by around 20 to 30 percent in comparison to a traditional diesel drive.

The vision of emission-free driving is realised by the Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid, which had its world premiere at the UITP Congress in Vienna in July 2009.The innovative concept for this vehicle combines elements of successfully tested Mercedes-Benz fuel cell buses, the diesel-electric Citaro G BlueTec Hybrid and technical improvements to produce a new, pioneering drive concept. Here again, the Citaro provides the platform. The Citaro does not emit any pollutants and runs virtually silently. This makes it ideal for use in highly polluted major cities and downtown areas. As on the Citaro, the drive system incorporating second-generation fuel cell technology is mounted in space-saving configuration on the roof of the bus. From front to rear, compressed-gas tanks for hydrogen, lithium-ion traction batteries and two fuel cell stacks and their coolers are accommodated here. Two wheel hub motors have a combined maximum power output of 160 kW. They are a spin-off from the development of the Citaro G BlueTec Hybrid, as are the inverters, the batteries and the electrically operated auxiliary units.

Between 2003 and 2010, 36 Citaro fuel cell buses covered over two million kilometres in tough daily use by customers on three continents from Iceland to Australia – making the Citaro the first vehicle to demonstrate the feasibility of genuine CO2-free public local transport operations.

Bus rapid transit (BRT)
Flexible and efficient bus transport systems such as BRT will acquire even greater importance in future as a means of addressing the growing need for mobility and countering the attendant strains on the environment.Such systems are already operating successfully with Mercedes-Benz buses in Bogotá/Columbia, Istanbul/Turkey, Mexico City/Mexico and Nantes/France, for example. In South Africa, Turkey and the cities set to host the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Daimler Buses is involved in corresponding projects to implement such systems.

As with rail systems, BRT enables more people to cover distances in cities at speed and in comfort. BRT systems are substantially quicker and more economical to implement than rail systems, also making them markedly more flexible in their ongoing development. Another strength of BRT is its individual applicability to any city, making it readily adaptable to specific local scenarios. A key aim being pursued with BRT is the integration of existing means of transport to establish a public local transport system offering blanket coverage of all needs and areas.

The introduction of a BRT system in a city entails detailed analysis and a comprehensive planning process. Legal and economic terms of reference, urban planning objectives, demographic structures and the requirements of passengers, cities and operators all demand consideration here.

The expert team from Daimler Buses provides assistance in implementing such systems in the area of concept development and when it comes to choosing and procuring the most suitable vehicle to form the backbone of the BRT system.As the world market leader, Mercedes-Benz boasts the broadest product range with regard to bus capacities, entrance heights and drive systems, and is thus able to offer the appropriate vehicle concept for both main routes and feeder services. The scope of services also includes financing models for the vehicles and BRT-specific solutions for service and aftersales.

Recent examples of work in this area include preliminary investigations into potential for BRT systems for public local transport in Augsburg/Germany and Izmir/Germany. A manual which has been drawn up specifically for the design and evaluation of BRT stops will be presented at the UITP congress in Dubai.

Calculable fleet costs with Omniplus
The economic efficiency of a vehicle is not determined by its purchase price. The crucial factors are availability and keeping costs under control. Life cycle costs are acquiring ever increasing importance in this context and represent the most important and decisive buying criteria. The assessment of costs throughout the entire life cycle, from initial purchase through operation to its resale value, defines a vehicle’s economic efficiency and thus constitutes a vital tool for the successful economic management of vehicle fleets. The services from Omniplus enable part of a vehicle’s operating costs to be calculated at the time of purchase.
Under the brand name of Omniplus, Daimler Buses has created a range of bus-specific services covering all bus customers’ requirements. This frees up the necessary capacities to enable customers to focus on their core business of transporting people in a successful, comfortable and safe manner. Omniplus is the sum total of all bus-related services from Daimler Buses. Highly valued by customers, Omniplus has already attained an unmatched position in Europe through its complete focus on bus-specific services.

The one-stop, fully comprehensive service from Omniplus saves time and money.With its professional maintenance and repairs, efficient driver and service training, its large range of used vehicles and customised financial packages, Omniplus offers a unique service covering all aspects of bus operations. Economical and approved firms and garages are a vital component of professional service quality. With this in mind, the Omniplus service network is undergoing continual expansion. Omniplus offers the largest bus-specific service network in Europe, comprising over 600 authorised service centres.

Omniplus offers service for BRT systems
Reliability and availability are the highest priorities for BRT systems. High service frequencies, high mileage and high passenger numbers impose very heavy strains on the vehicles. This makes BRT-specific support services absolutely vital. Daimler’s extensive experience in the bus sector enables Omniplus services to be tailored to the specific requirements and operations of a BRT system. Professional workshop planning, process optimisation and training for service personnel and drivers guarantee mobility and commercial viability from day one.

24h service and genuine parts
Should a bus take an unintentional break, Omniplus’s 24h service is at hand around the clock. The quality screening of Omniplus service partners and the standardised repair processes assure buses of high-quality repair on fair terms in emergencies. The Spare Parts Logistics Center in Neu-Ulm exemplifies the high efficiency of the Omniplus programme. Over 100,000 genuine parts are stored here, from complete engines to the tiniest screw. The effective functioning of a vehicle as a whole hinges on perfect interaction between its appropriately matched and coordinated parts. Checked genuine parts from Omniplus provide added reliability here. On the basis of the complete documentation of vehicles and parts and the reliable availability of genuine parts for reordering, all the parts of a bus remain fully available for at least 12 years after production of the vehicle concerned is discontinued.

Omniplus BusFleet: the first fleet management system specifically for buses Fleet operators are keenly aware that tight controls are crucial to economic efficiency. The bus-specific fleet management system Omniplus Fleet provides the necessary support here.

BusFleet optimises the fleet’s economic efficiency. The telematics system has been developed especially for buses and tailored to the needs of bus companies. The focus is on economy and transparency in the fleet. The system is available for all fully equipped buses and for bus chassis with FMS interface. While systems available on the market to date have been aimed first and foremost at coordinating typical truck operations, Omniplus BusFleet is dedicated exclusively to bus-specific elements.

Source: Daimler AG