'Think rail, see bus'
Scania is investing strongly in expanded participation in the growing global market for bus systems, with a focus on the bus passenger.
To be a traffic planner in any of the world’s multi-million cities is a major challenge. The global urbanisation trend means that their population and thus traffic is constantly increasing, while the climate is under threat from growing carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuels resources will probably become scarcer and scarcer.
Klas Dahlberg, who has just taken over as head of Scania Buses and Coaches, believes that these problems represent great opportunities for Scania.
“Public transport systems will have to play a larger role. In the long term, it will not be possible to continue using private cars for transport in the same way as today,” he says.
A number of terms are used to describe the bus industry’s solution to traffic problems, such as BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) or BRS (Bus Rapid System). Scania has chosen the name “Bus systems by Scania”, which implies that the bus itself is just one of the elements. The motto is “think rail – see bus”.
It is a matter of developing route networks where buses have priority over other traffic, either by running on their own streets or in dedicated bus lanes. Boarding and disembarkation are facilitated either by using low-floor buses or by building bus stops at the same level as the floor of the bus. An infrastructure is built around this for payment and ticket management outside the vehicles, which shortens waiting time at the bus stop or station. All this results in higher average speed and faster transport than travel by car.
More cost effictive
“A well-developed system has a very large capacity. For example, in Bogotá, Colombia, there is a solution which can carry 50,000 passengers per hour, says Dahlberg.
Meanwhile, there is another important aspect for the public transport user to consider – namely the cost. A bus system costs no more than half as much or in many cases just 10-15 percent of what a light rail system costs. It also takes many times longer to construct a light rail system compared to a bus system, which can be built in 1-3 years.
A market that gets what it’s all about is Latin America. Brazil is investing in expanded public transport systems ahead of the football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016 and this will predominantly take the form of bus systems.
“In roughly a dozen of the cities where the arenas are found, they are now carrying out extensions and renovations or are introducing entirely new systems which are dedicated to bus traffic,” says Dahlberg.
Aside from Latin America, the market for bus systems is growing mainly in Asian countries such as China, India and Indonesia, but also in Africa and Australia.
“We are now concentrating on expanding our participation in this growing niche. Last year, we had a record high delivery of buses, almost 8,000, and our goal is to reach 15,000 buses by the next peak in demand. Therefore, this is an important market for us,” says Klas Dahlberg.
An important strategy in reaching this goal is to focus on the bus passenger.
“Each time someone chooses to take the bus, it is a small victory for us. To win many such victories, we must help to make it easy and convenient to take the bus. This means, for instance, using modern IT so that passengers can have a constant connection for their mobile devices throughout the entire system. Time is money but if their time can be used, the trip pays for itself,” he says.