Bus made for pupils

Mercedes-Benz’s new OF1723 can han­dle the de­mands of school trans­port

The Witness - Wheels - - TRANSPORT - AL­WYN VILJOEN

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.

PHOTO: AL­WYN VILJOEN

Sane Nciliba, na­tional mar­keter for Mercedes-Benz buses and coaches.

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