x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

German firms win Abu Dhabi bus contracts

Two German firms, MAN and Mercedes-Benz, have won a contract to provide 500 city buses and long distance coaches.

MAN-bus production in Ankara factory.
MAN-bus production in Ankara factory.

ABU DHABI // Two German companies, MAN and Mercedes-Benz, have won the latest contracts from the Department of Transport (DOT) for 500 city buses and long-distance coaches, said to be worth more than Dh1 billion (US$272 million). The deal is part of the Abu Dhabi's long-term plan to develop an integrated public transport network for its growing population, which is projected to triple in the next two decades to 3.1 million residents. The new order follows the deployment in June of 120 new buses from a Chinese manufacturer as an interim measure to solve the emirate's immediate transport challenges.

Saeed al Hameli, the general manger for bus transportation at the DOT, said the first of 400 buses from MAN would arrive in December, with the remaining 100 buses from Mercedes slated to arrive around the middle of next year. Under the department's plans, buses will be used to transport passengers within the city of Abu Dhabi, while coaches will be introduced to connect Al Ain, Dubai and the Al Gharbia region. The Mercedes contract is for 100 Citaro city buses, while MAN will deliver 250 city buses and 150 coaches. All are air conditioned and some have wheelchair access. The deal includes five-year service contracts.

Kerem Tas, the general manager of Daimler Buses, which produces the Mercedes-Benz bus line, said the contract gave Mercedes a key foothold in the Abu Dhabi market. "We've been working on the Abu Dhabi project for almost four years. This is a very important deal for us, considering Abu Dhabi's development plans. We view this as a long-term project," he said. A second tender from the DOT is expected by the end of the year, as it seeks to meet its goals for 1,360 air-conditioned buses with access for the handicapped by 2010, and low-emission and alternative-fuel buses by 2015. Across the region, European and Chinese bus makers have thrived amid a burst of spending on mass transit, signalling a slow but significant move away from new roads and cars to deal with growing populations. Dubai is said to be in the market for another 1,600 buses to add to its fleet of 500 vehicles. In Sharjah Municipality expects to have 148 buses operating by the end of the year. Ras al Khaimah is also planning to launch a bus service, while outside the UAE, bus tenders have been put out in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran and Egypt. igale@thenational.ae mchung@thenational.ae