WATCH: eThekwini unveils brand new, state-of-the-art fleet
On Saturday, the city handed over the first 50 buses to uMlazi commuters, with the rest, in two batches of 50, expected to become available in March and June.
The buses, produced by MAN, started running on Monday under the management of Tansnat, while the city finalises the entity that is expected to run the buses on behalf of the city.
MAN production manager Neville Pennington said the city’s new buses were also in use in European cities.
“What is special about the buses is that they have very low carbon emissions, which are at European levels. Compared to our previous buses that would give out a lot of smoke, you can barely see the smoke from these buses. In terms of carbon monoxide, that is much lower. Also for the community, it’s a much more friendly bus in terms of being able to go as low as it can go for the elderly, those who are physically challenged and those who may not be able to climb high steps.”
MAN bus fleet manager Gary Aliphon said the buses had secondary braking, which made the vehicle safer on the road.
“It also has a rear engine so the sound levels inside the bus are very low. You can speak and drive in comfort.
"You’ve also got air suspension so the vehicle can ride softly over bumps like a very fancy modern car,” Aliphon said.
Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the 150 buses cost the city R380 million, and are the first of their kind in Africa.
The buses are owned by the municipality, but will be run by the managing company.
“These buses will have a reduced amount of carbon monoxide emissions. At the push of a button, these buses lower for easy access. The next batch will have machines which can pick up wheelchairs and get you on the bus,” Kaunda said.
“I am certain that their splendour is indeed going to spur more and more of our residents to gravitate towards using public transport. This would in turn reduce traffic congestion that is plaguing our road infrastructure. Cities in the world invest substantially in public transport. “We are following suit and gradually we will eventually be at the summit of the world-class public transport system. We are therefore urging our residents to look after them. We are not expecting anyone to torch them in the event of our communities are unhappy about anything pertaining to service delivery.”
EThekwini Municipality human settlements and infrastructure committee chairperson Thanduxolo Sabelo said the municipality had heard the complaints of the commuters that the old buses broke down often.
“We heard and our mayor sent us to buy new buses. Ninety percent of these buses will work in uMlazi. We bought world-class buses to work in the township,” said Sabelo.
Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Bheki Ntuli said the new fleet would assist the department in reducing road crashes.