Management & Operations

International bus exhibit attracts 24,300 visitors to Belgian venue

Posted on January 1, 2004

New coach and bus trends and innovations were presented at the Busworld exhibition in Kortrijk, Belgium, held in mid-October. The exhibit, which many report as being the largest world exhibition devoted to buses and coaches, has grown in importance over the years. This year’s Busworld attracted 24,300 visitors from 105 countries. There were an estimated 286 exhibitors, including 41 bus manufacturers. A number of bus manufacturers introduced new bus or coach models. Other firms presented a wide range of components and services to the bus and coach industry. New technologies featuring hybrid engines, fuel-cell development and gas applications were shown by several of the manufacturers. This year’s International Coach of the Year competition, chosen by a jury of bus industry journalists and announced at the show, resulted in a tie. The two winners were the Scania K124 Irizar PB coach and the MAN Lion Star of the Neoman organization. Most of the large bus manufacturers exhibited up to a dozen buses and coaches. There were also several new designs such as the CompoBus exhibited by NABI. One of the manufacturers of the Dutch VDL Group showed a bi-articulated APTS bus. Irisbus displayed 11 buses and coaches and promoted its hybrid, fuel-cell, gas and clean diesel propulsion. Van Hool also had 11 buses at its display. Setra premiered its three-axle touring coach, S416HDH, featuring 50-passenger seating, as well as its range of ComfortClass 400 coaches. Marcopolo, the world’s largest bus builder, with a plant in Portugal, indicated it was strengthening its presence in Europe and showed several models designed for the European market. Present at the show was Marcopolo’s president, Paulo Bellini — recently honored as the bus manufacturer of the year. Several new bus manufacturers exhibited buses and coaches, including Temsa from Turkey and Solaris from Poland. Interesting trends observed at the Busworld exhibition were the number of 15-meter buses (49.2 feet) shown. The 15-meter buses have been in production for a number of years, and are now seen on many streets and roads in Europe. When asked about the 15-meter bus success, manufacturers agreed that these buses were quite popular. It was reported that the 15-meter buses in service generally carry as many passengers as an 18-meter articulated bus. The reason provided was that passengers usually don’t like to occupy the space in the articulated joint, even if seats are in the joint. Then, the maintenance of the 15-meter bus is less because the articulated joint is often an added maintenance concern. Because the engine is located in the rear of some articulated buses, there are some safety concerns, especially on slippery surfaces. A low floor is possible for most of the floor space of a 15-meter bus. The third axle can be steered, making the bus maneuverable even on narrow streets with tight turns. A discussion on trolley buses and their future, although sometimes not favorable, revealed that there is a continued interest in trolley buses. One manufacturer cited examples of new trolley bus installations in Landskrona, Sweden, and Rome as well as renewal of present trolley bus fleets in many cities. It was also noted that trolley buses are now being built with the 15-meter bodies. — Bill Luke

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