Daimler Buses has won a contract to deliver 260 Mercedes-Benz Citaro city buses to the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), the company said on Tuesday. The deal comes as other international suppliers say some large expected orders for the RTA have not eventuated. Dubai's bus plans were first announced in November 2007, when the RTA said it would buy 1,616 buses from five suppliers at a cost of US$2.34 billion (Dh8.59bn), in what was hailed as the world's largest one-off bus deal. The Daimler contract is the first formal confirmation from one of the five named suppliers. During yesterday's announcement, Hartmut Schick, the head of Daimler Buses, said: "The major order from Dubai fills us with pride, and it shows that our vehicles can thrill and win over customers even in economically difficult times. We will further expand our involvement in the Middle East growth market."
Two RTA bus sources said the agency had also signed a contract for more than 500 city buses with VDL, a Dutch manufacturer. Both bus orders are expected to provide catchment area support for Dubai's rail system, which opens in September. However, the RTA has not gone ahead fully with plans for the other orders of double-decker and articulated buses from three other European bus makers, MAN, Volvo and Scania, totalling about 800 units, the sources said. Thorsten Wagner, a spokesman for MAN, said it was informed that a deal for 133 double-decker buses was cancelled. MAN has delivered 400 buses to the RTA from an earlier order. "The tender [for] about 133 Neoplan double-decker buses... has been, in fact, cancelled," Mr Wagner said. "Nevertheless, our importer in the Middle East in still in talks with the RTA to have the tender amended to have a different deal. There are no results of these new talks so far."
Volvo was selected to provide 414 buses but those plans had also been withdrawn, industry sources said. A spokesman for Volvo in Sweden declined to comment because he said the RTA had never signed a contract with Volvo. The third maker affected is said to be Scania, which linked with the Portuguese builder Caetano to supply the RTA with double-decker buses. The Caetano website says deliveries for 293 buses were scheduled to begin as early as this summer. Samir Salamoun, the general manager of Al Shirawi Enterprises, Scania/Caetano's sales and service representative in Dubai, said he was not in a position to give information. Dubai's transport agency is embarking on a comprehensive plan to develop a mass transit system linking the emirate's communities via metro, trams, buses, water taxis, ferries and new roads and bridges. The agency operates between 600 and 700 buses. The number will increase to 2,000 by the time the metro's Red Line opens in September. Peyman Parham, a Dubai RTA spokesman, declined to comment on the status of its bus orders. "I can't speak of contractual matters," he said, adding: "We are 100 per cent on track with everything we are doing." The RTA planned to bring in hundreds of new buses this year and open 17 new road projects, Mr Parham said. "We are very optimistic with the rest of the year." * additional reporting by Matthew Chung firstname.lastname@example.org