Bus made for pupils
Mercedes-Benz’s new OF1723 can handle the demands of school transport
THE KwaZulu-Natal department of basic education last week promised to provide transport for vulnerable pupils from 12 schools in Nquthu, a minor victory in an ongoing battle to provide bus transport for pupils in the province.
In terms of the 2013 KwaZulu-Natal Learner Transport Policy, the local government must provide government-assisted transport to disabled by April 1 2018. There are still many questions on the education department’s ability to keep this promise, but it is encouraging to note that officials are finally putting shoulder to the proverbial wheel to meet their obligations.
Such promises of delivery before elections is all part of an international government pattern, which Jasper Hafkamp, executive director of Daimler Trucks and Buses, said may yet benefit all South Africa’s bus sellers next year. This after 2017 was a rather torrid year in terms of orders and sales.
When the KZN basic education department gets its ducks in a row to issue tenders for pupil transport in the province, Mercedes-Benz will be ready with a purpose-designed bus that can handle the demands of up to 66 pupils on the daily school run.
The company this week unveiled the OF 1723 bus chassis at Monte Casino.
Shane Henry, brand manager for Mercedes-Benz Bus and Coach Southern Africa said the OF1723 was designed to meet the demands of bus operators operating on tight margins and low budgets. He said the new bus offers an entrylevel bus chassis that will assist in curbing the number of challenges our customers face, while providing a stable, safe transport platform.
Sane Nciliba, national marketer of Merc’s buses and coaches, said the OF 1723 was designed from the steel leaf-springs up to create a reliable bus that uses as little diesel as possible.
The bus uses only proven components, including Merc’s OM 906LA diesel engine, which is tuned to make 175kW (235HP) and 850Nm, delivered between 1200 and 1500 rpm.
These power figures are slightly under the block’s optimum delivery, but will ensure less consumption and longer life.
Ncili ba said features such as the Constant Throttle Valve Engine Brake and High Boost Pressure Turbocharger further enhance fuel efficiency. All these characteristics have a direct impact in increasing the bus operator’s profitability.
Merc’s proven six-speed manual G85 gearbox has an overdrive gear for lower engine revolutions during highway operation. “From the RS4 rear axles that aid highway driving and improve fuel efficiency, to the wider brakes and larger brake chambers, which mean a longer life for brake liners, we really have ensured that this product makes a tangible effect in our customers’ businesses, Henry said. The OF 1723 bus can already be ordered at Garden City Commercials in Pietermaritzburg.
Sane Nciliba, national marketer for Mercedes-Benz buses and coaches.