AN Truck and Bus came up trumps in the second quarter this year, with a dominant 40% share of the bus market. The company recorded 122 sales, out of a total 302 unit sales in this sector of the commercial market. Its closest rival was Iveco, with 62 units.

This is even better than its performance in the bus market last year: in 2008, MAN sold 546 units, achieving a 36% share of this competitive market. Its closest rival last year was Mercedes-Benz (286), which narrowly pipped Iveco (277) to the post.

One of the reasons for MAN’s continued success is the relationships that it has fostered with long-standing customers — and Golden Arrow is just one such client. Its history can be traced back to 1861, when Cape Town’s bus services originated. It was then that permission for the establishment of the privately owned Cape Town and Green Point Tramway Company was granted. Today, commuter bus services are still provided by Golden Arrow Bus Services, a subsidiary of Hosken Consolidated Investments Limited (HCI), one of the country’s premier black empowerment companies.

Golden Arrow currently operates 1 040 buses during peak hours, serving 900 routes in metropolitan Cape Town, covering a total area of approximately 2 460 km2. The fleet travels 61.7 million kilometres a year, conveying 55.9 million passengers, at a rate of approximately 270 000 per weekday. Bus services are provided from depots at Montana, Woodstock, Atlantis, Philippi, Simon’s Town and Blackheath. The services from Atlantis have been subcontracted to Sibanye Bus Services, a joint venture established in 2001 between Golden Arrow, Abahlobo Transport Services and Siyakhula Bus Services.

The company employs more than 2 500 people. More than half of these — drivers, inspectors, regulators, small business unit managers and operations managers — are directly involved with the running of bus services. In addition, the company employs a large contingent of engineering staff — electricians, body builders, fitters and turners, welders, sign writers and painters. Engineering teams at each depot maintain the fleet by means of regular scheduled preventative maintenance programmes and running repairs, safety checks, painting and cleaning of buses. In addition, the central engineering division is responsible for the major overhauling of engines, gearboxes and fuel injector systems, road springs and other sub-assemblies, as well as body and auto-electrical repairs.

Golden Arrow recently took the decision to invest in low-floor buses that would give passengers a taste of world-class travel, and these buses are quietly making their entry into the local transport scene. The European-style buses are Golden Arrow’s latest acquisition in the company’s multimillion rand fleet recapitalisation programme, which started five years ago.

The new vehicles are fitted with air-conditioners and wheelchair ramps, Initially, the idea was to use these vehicles for an envisaged inner city service. However, that is yet to come to fruition as Golden Arrow is still in discussion with the city as to the details of the service.

In the meantime, these buses, 25 in total costing R2 million apiece, will be deployed on the V&A Waterfront, Sea Point and CityRetreat routes.

Source: Foucs on Transport and Logistics