DPMB (Brno Public Transport Authority) submitted a project application for the provision of a grant from the Regional Operational Programme South-East for the purchase of low-level buses for local public transport in Brno back in September 2009. Our project was then chosen in March 2010 by the Regional Board of Cohesion Region South-East as fit for entering into a contract on the provision of a grant of CZK 50 million as part of the Regional Operational Programme South-East, providing the maximum cost of the project was CZK 125 million. This contract was signed in June.
What, then, was bought with the grant money? A tender was held during the grant application approval process for the delivery of 25 buses, as complying with the conditions laid down by the grant programme - low-level buses compliant with emission limits at a minimum level of EURO5. These limits have been valid in the European Union since the end of 2009 and guarantee that operation is sufficiently environmentally-friendly, whilst maintaining the running advantages of using diesel engines. Due to the limit set for the maximum possible grant – CZK 50 million – we did not inquire after fully low-level buses, but low-entry buses. Low-entry buses have a low-level floor between the first and second doors, which is entirely sufficient in terms of satisfying low-level requirements according to European standards and to provide barrier-free transport to a sufficient number of handicapped and older passengers or mothers with prams (strollers) on lines to certain outlying parts of Brno. This fact was verified in 2008 and 2009, when DPMB borrowed low-entry vehicles on trial and put them into operation on these lines. Due to the fact that these types of vehicles are up to 20 % cheaper than entirely low-level vehicles from most manufacturers, a more sizeable portion of the fleet at DPMB can be updated with the help of EU funds. A supplier of Iveco CROSSWAY LE CITY buses was chosen in the tender. If we ignore for a second the very favourable price of these vehicles, there is one other main operating advantage – the fact that we maintain our fleet of Iveco vehicles, meaning that there are no additional costs required for servicing equipment, training servicing staff and drivers or increasing the stock of spare parts.
Buses were delivered to DPMB in stages from the end of August to the first week in October. After dealing with all documentary formalities, these vehicles were put into regular service from late September. Special circuit routes are in place for vehicles of this type so that they are able to provide transport in the outlying areas of Brno and in places and on lines where their partial low-level characteristic is not a handicap. This move is connected to the dates of timetable changes.
A few technical details about the buses bought - Iveco CROSSWAY LE CITY. This is an IVECO product that is entirely developed and made in Vysoké Mýto. The bus is 12 metres long and has 32 seats and a total capacity of 109 passengers. The low-level part stretches from the front of the bus to the end of the middle doors. The floor is higher at the back (as a result of a standard rear axle and the engine under the floor) and is accessed by climbing three stairs. For comparison: Citybus and Citelis have a portal rear axle and the engine is fitted crosswise at the back behind the area for passengers and torque transfer from engine to wheels through angular transmission. The driving chain solution used in the Crossway bus means that the cost is lower (the absence of angular transmission and simple rear axle), that maintenance is simpler and cheaper and that fuel consumption should be lower as a result of fewer losses in the driving mechanism. The bus is fitted with a 7.8-litre IVECO Cursor 8 EURO 5 engine of 243 kW in power, automatic VOITH transmission, tipping platform and kneeling (meaning that the right-hand side of the bus tips down to make boarding easier for wheelchair users and persons who find it more difficult to move or for people with prams (strollers). To improve working conditions for the driver, the bus is fitted with an all-round adjustable driver’s seat with back support, space for storing bags and a closed-off, air-conditioned driver’s cabin.