Coach­ing Cuba in pub­lic trans­port

Yu­tong’s 5,890 buses have trans­formed the Cas­tro-led Caribbean coun­try so­cio-eco­nom­i­cally

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By XIN­HUA in Ha­vana

A young Cuban pro­fes­sor who com­mutes over 20 km ev­ery day from her home in western Ha­vana to the city’s down­town has wit­nessed a dra­matic change in the pub­lic trans­port sys­tem that has trou­bled the Car­ribean coun­try’s peo­ple for decades.

Maylin Orta, 32, has to catch two buses or “guaguas,” as the lo­cals call them, to get to work in a com­mute that used to take her up to four hours.

“In those years, I used to study at the Univer­sity of Ha­vana and would have to catch the bus at 4 am to be in time for the start of classes at 8 am. Those were very hard times for our coun­try’s pub­lic trans­port sys­tem,” Orta said.

How­ever, this has all changed thanks to China’s Yu­tong buses, which are be­com­ing an in­creas­ing pres­ence in Cuba. It all started with the ar­rival of 12 made-in­China Yu­tong buses in 2005.

Months later, 1,000 ad­di­tional Yu­tong buses reached the Car­ribean is­land and made a dif­fer­ence to Orta and mil­lions of other Cubans all over the is­land.

The main ci­ties in Cuba are all con­nected by out­dated roads, and the trans­port sys­tem is solely based on bus routes. The coun­try does not have sub­way sys­tems or high­speed trains.

In Ha­vana, long city routes are cov­ered by Yu­tong buses des­ig­nated by the let­ter “P.” The buses have eased the de­mand for an ef­fec­tive pub­lic trans­port sys­tem.

Yu­tong has also had a pos­i­tive im­pact on Cuban so­ci­ety, thanks to the qual­ity, com­fort and com­pet­i­tive prices of its buses and their adap­ta­tion to

This is a way to help Cuba de­velop its trans­port sys­tem and at the same time pro­vide tech­nol­ogy trans­fer.”

Wang Tong, this Caribbean

“Cur­rently, there are 5,890 Yu­tong buses in Cuba used for many pur­poses. Last year, 1,500 units, both as­sem­bled buses and chas­sis, were sold, sur­pass­ing $10 mil­lion in con­tracts signed with dif­fer­ent Cuban state-owned com­pa­nies,” said Wang Tong, sales man­ager of the Chi­nese firm in­Ha­vana. na­tion’s stan­dard.

Over 20 bus mod­els have been in­tro­duced to the is­land since 2005 and cur­rently nine pro­to­types of Yu­tong buses are sold to Cuba, which is con­sid­ered by theChi­nese com­pany as one of its main mar­kets in Latin Amer­ica along with Venezuela and Chile.

The tourism in­dus­try, which is the main source of rev­enue for Cuba, has also ben­e­fited from the co­op­er­a­tion with the Chi­nese brand with com­fort­able coaches en­abling in­ter-city trans­fers.

Wang also said that in 2014, Yu­tong started to sell small bus chas­sis to a Cuban com­pany in or­der to con­trib­ute to the lo­cal in­dus­try.

A joint ven­ture be­tween Yu­tong and the state-owned CAISA, a bus-maker, is a pos­si­bil­ity, and could sup­ply Cuba’s prov­inces and small towns with com­fort­able coaches.

“This is a way to help Cuba de­velop its trans­port sys­tem and at the same time pro­vide tech­nol­ogy trans­fer. For us, this is a great chal­lenge and ac­knowl­edge­ment of the high value the Cuban gov­ern­ment has for our work here since 2005,” Wang said.

In 2014, over 930 chas­sis were sold to CAISA to be as­sem­bled with Yu­tong parts and pieces. The prod­uct is a small bus, known as “Diana,” which seeks to meet the de­mand for pub­lic trans­porta­tion all over the is­land.

“This year, we’ll as­sem­ble in Cuba 650 buses af­ter a quar­ter cen­tury with­out pro­duc­ing a sin­gle unit in the na­tion,” said En­rique Martinez, CAISA’s gen­eral man­ager.

The lo­cal com­pany, lo­cated in the town of Gua­na­jay, just 50 km south­west of Ha­vana, has one pro­duc­tion line of small buses. Each bus has a seat­ing ca­pac­ity of up to 35 pas­sen­gers. At the same time, Yu­tong ad­vis­ers work along with their Cuban coun­ter­parts to up­hold the Chi­nese com­pany’s stan­dards.

sales man­ager of Yu­tong in Ha­vana

LI BO / XIN­HUA

An em­ployee works on the pro­duc­tion line of Yu­tong Bus’ plant in Zhengzhou, He­nan prov­ince.

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