Pretoria – The new Metrobus fleet is leading the way in the world in the use of both diesel and gas as a source of energy for buses.
The buses are low in emissions, use gas that is commercially cheaper as well as cleaner but can switch over to diesel in the event of gas non-availability.
Dual fuel buses use both cleaner diesel (50ppm) as well as compressed gas (methane). This gas can either be natural or biogas.
Speaking during a visit to the Busmark Factory, in Randfontein on Tuesday, Johannesburg’s Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Transport, Cllr Christine Walters, said this is a further step that the City of Johannesburg is taking in going green.
“This is because the City has identified biogas as an energy source which is both low on carbon emissions and other air pollutants while also enabling job creation, which is so important in the South African context,” she said.
The new Metrobus fleet’s chassis were assembled in East London and the body designed and built in Randfontein, Gauteng.
The factory has created 280 permanent and temporary jobs during the execution of this contract.
In January 2015, Metrobus placed an order for 150 dual fuel buses from Sandown Motor Holdings (Pty) Ltd a retail commercial vehicle dealership of Mercedes-Benz of South Africa. When the delivery of these buses is complete by end of August 2016, the Metrobus active fleet will increase from the current 344 to 494.
To date, 123 buses have been delivered and they will be 130 by the end of July 2016 and the remaining 20 will be delivered by the end of August 2016.
Of the 150 buses, 100 have been built fully as dual fuel and the other 50 are being retrofitted to be dual fuel.
The retrofit programme has already begun and 18 buses have been retrofitted. The dome on top of the bus, houses the gas cylinders.
Due to the innovative nature of the technology that is being used, there has been a significant amount of lessons that have been learnt by all stakeholders – the bus manufacturers, drivers, technicians at Metrobus etc.
These lessons will lead to improved productivity and efficiency of the buses now coming on stream as well as how to roll out this programme to other Johannesburg and South African buses.
“Not only are the buses more environmentally friendly, contributing to reduced air pollution and lowering greenhouse gas emissions, but the local design and building of them in Gauteng has contributed to significant job creation,” said MMC Walters.
In addition to 280 permanent jobs created, Busmark has also partnered with the City’s Jozi@work programme and trained 45 people from appointed co-operatives in Regions C and F to clean buses.
In addition, Mercedes-Benz created 20 temporary jobs at its assembly plant in East London in the Eastern Cape where the chassis were assembled.
Metrobus is also in the process of creating 22 permanent jobs for artisans and general workers to service the new buses.
Downstream temporary and permanent employment has been created in the gas and other industries.
The use of gas in the buses will also increase the demand for gas and give rise to gas production industry, especially bio-gas, thereby increasing job opportunities and the saving on the import bill on fossil products.