Minibuses have long been the ideal addition to many transport companies’ fleets. In areas where economic factors rule out the operation of large buses in scheduled services, minibuses can often provide a profitable alternative. Ideal size – economically viable operation: a concept that also applies to the revised scheduled service concept of Verkehrsgesellschaft Belzig mbh (VGB) within the district capital and spa town of Bad Belzig. On 12 November 2015, the transport company, represented by Hans-Jürgen Hennig, CEO of VGB, commissioned two new Sprinter City 77 to add to its fleet. Jürgen Popis, Head of Sales at Mercedes-Benz Omnibusse Region Ost, handed over the vehicles at the VBG depot in Bad Belzig.
Sprinter City 77: size does matter
The low-floor minibuses made by Mercedes-Benz have been VBG’s guarantee for success on route 590 since December 2012. Back then, revisions to services required a restructuring and, most of all, rethinking of traditional public transport concepts. With 12-metre buses the route was neither economically sustainable nor convenient for passengers. The company developed a new timetable concept with two Sprinter City 77 minibuses at the core: route 590. The newly introduced “Sprinter route” was very successful. Within two years, passenger figures increased by 34 percent, income grew by 25 percent and services were also enhanced. The level of capacity utilization enabled VGB to cut its service intervals by half.
As an exclusive in-house development by the Mercedes-Benz minibus division, the three-axle Sprinter City 77 clearly enhances the flexibility of transport companies. It can operate on entire routes, as at VGB, but also provide on-demand support during peak times. Thanks to its gross weight of 6.8 t the vehicle can carry up to 40 passengers. The Sprinter City 77 is also well equipped to cope with deployment on major routes: two double-leaf outward swinging doors ensure a high passenger flow rate, the kneeling function and the mechanical folding ramp at door 1 as well as the low floor free of any steps within the passenger compartment facilitate access for passengers with reduced mobility and the vehicle also provides ample space for two designated wheelchair spaces as well as two walking frame brackets on the front and rear platform of the minibus. Sprinter City 77 models are equipped with Euro VI engines and – as a unique feature within the minibus segment – a seven-speed automatic transmission. The passive safety equipment also includes the automatic frequent-stop brake featuring immobilizer, start-off assist, bi-xenon headlamps with cornering light function and adaptive brake lights. Passengers’ comfort requirements are also met: from fully-size bus seating with seat cushions and backrests to powerful 11 kW passenger compartment air conditioning – the minibus is a genuine regular-service bus boasting an ample scope of equipment.