MAN Lion’s Urban roars in Durban

The stylish MAN Lion’s Urban will roam the Durban streets as part of the public transport bus fleet operated by Durban Transport. MARISKA MORRIS takes a closer look at what these buses have to offer

MAN has dedicated the past few years to rebranding and extending its bus and chassis ranges to offer a wide variety of vehicles with some of the latest technology for nearly every passenger transport application. The flexibility of its range helped MAN Automotive South Africa secure a tender to supply Durban Transport with a fleet of 150 MAN Lion’s Urban buses.

As a key public transport operator in the coastal city, Durban Transport had very specific requirements for its buses, such as a high-floor chassis to accommodate the higher boarding platforms and the use of anti-corrosive materials in the vehicle. With its wide range, MAN Automotive South Africa was able to tailor a bus to meet these specifications ex-Europe.

In saunters the MAN Lion’s Urban with a MAN RR8/9 high-floor chassis. The vehicle boasts all the performance benefits of the high-floor chassis – complete with a Euro 5 engine – while providing the same clean, stylish and comfortable design found in the MAN Lion’s range.

The eThekwini Municipality celebrates the arrival of its MAN buses.

As Gary Aliphon, bus fleet manager at MAN Automotive South Africa, explains: “The MAN Lion’s Urban was designed by our team in Munich, Germany, to match the design found on all of the latest MAN products. This same team recently won the prestigious iF Design Award for the fifth consecutive year.”

In 2016, the MAN team won for its design of the MAN Lion’s Intercity; the Neoplan Tourliner bagged the award in 2017; in 2018 it was the MAN Lion’s Coach; the 2019 award went to the MAN Lion’s City, and the MAN Lion’s City E won in 2020.

When one climbs inside one of these buses, it’s easy to understand the MAN team’s repeated wins. Delegates at the Southern African Bus Operators Association Conference will recall the iconic clean, bright and open design that has become associated MAN buses. The modified Lion’s Urban vehicles delivered to Durban Transport are no exception, as Aliphon notes.

“Some of the key features of the bus include modern design lines with better aerodynamic characteristics and segmented side panels in fibreglass that make the overall weight of the bus lighter. This also allows for a quicker turnaround of repairs in the case of an accident,” he says.

These are but some of the design and performance features that Durban Transport looks forward to incorporating into its fleet. Head of the city fleet at the eThekwini Municipality, Malcolm Joshua, notes that passenger safety, driver comfort, reduced fuel consumption, lower carbon emissions and the modernised design features were central to specifications for the city.

“MAN Automotive South Africa was the successful bidder on the Durban Transport bus tender. The company has a large footprint in the South African bus market. The brand is reliable, and the buses will greatly benefit the city,” he says.

The two-by-two interior seating configuration in the MAN Lion’s Urban ensures better passenger comfort and aisle space, while the full air suspension and kneeling function allow passengers to board the bus with greater ease.

Similarly, driver ergonomics were key with an instrument layout that ensures all the important information is visible at a glance. The design also includes front LED daytime running lights that ensure better visibility. The MAN buses are more environmentally friendly with reduced fuel consumption and maintenance costs.

“Our strategy as a city is to reduce our carbon footprint,” Joshua points out. “These vehicles will contribute towards achieving this goal. The projected fuel consumption is also significantly lower than the existing buses in our fleet and we are looking forward to the reduced operating costs from the projected fuel savings.”

This is thanks to the Euro 5 emission level of the six-cylinder engine without the need for adBlue (MAN PureDiesel technology) in the MAN Lion’s Urban. The engine boasts 235 kW of power with 1 600 Nm of torque. While the standard MAN RR8/9 chassis boasts similar performance, there were some design elements specifically modified for the Durban Transport fleet.

“Some critical design elements were changed,” Joshua elaborates. “Because of the corrosive nature of the Durban coastal climate, anti-corrosive materials were used in the design. The cooling system was also relocated away from the kerbside of the bus to improve engine cooling especially during those hot Durban summer days.” The full 3CR12 structure on the MAN Lion’s Urban has better anti-corrosive properties and is lighter and stronger than mild steel.

The MAN Lion’s Urban buses will form part of the 550-bus fleet operated by Durban Transport and run in all major residential areas it services. Durban Transport also aims to keep its bus availability at 90 percent – an entirely possible feat with the reliable MAN buses forming an integral part of the fleet.

The buses will hit the road once the drivers have been trained.

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