Published On: December 14, 2016

Volvo Launches World’s Largest Bus

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Volvo has launched its newest vehicles, two buses that will add to Volvo’s high-passenger capacity transport system. Volvo introduced its two new buses at the FetransRio transportation conference, which was held in Rio in November.

The smaller bus is an articulated vehicle 22 meters long with capacity for 210 passengers. The larger bus is bi-articulated and 30 meters in length, making it officially the world’s largest bus. Known as the Gran Artic, this behemoth has the capacity to hold 300 people, more than some commercial airplanes.

“Volvo is a leader in vehicles for BRTs (Bus Rapid Transit systems), and we are proud to make available to the market the world’s largest bus. This vehicle will provide greater efficiency for an organized transportation system, guaranteeing better travel quality and cost benefit for transport operators,” said Fabiano Todeschini, president of Volvo Bus Latin America.

The chassis for the Gran Artic, the largest bus in the world

The chassis of the Gran Artic, the largest bus in the world

A BRT is defined as a bus-based mass transit system that has specialized design, services, and infrastructure to improve system quality and remove the typical causes of delay. Sometimes described as a ‘surface subway,’ BRT aims to combine the capacity and speed of a subway with the flexibility, lower cost, and simplicity of a bus system.

The first BRT in the world was introduced in Curitiba in 1974 under direction of then mayor, Jaime Lerner. To be considered BRT, buses should operate for a significant part of their journey along a fully dedicated right of way (bus lane) to avoid traffic congestion.

In addition, a true BRT system will also have:

  • Alignment in the center of the road (to avoid typical curb-side delays);

  • Stations with off-board fare collection (to reduce boarding and alighting delay related to paying the driver);

  • Station platforms level with the bus floor and multiple bus doors for entry (to reduce boarding and alighting delay caused by steps and queueing).

All of these features are part of Curitiba’s BRT system, and this system, since 1974, has been studied and duplicated throughout Latin America and Europe. As of today, 207 cities on six continents have copied the Curitiba model. However, there is still no BRT system operating anywhere in the US.

Curitiba's BRT system

Curitiba’s BRT system

With the two new bus models, Volvo completes its goal of producing the most complete bus line for high-capacity urban transportation systems. There are now four Volvo models available for the high-capacity market. The models are:

Artic 150, 18.6 meters long/150 passengers

Artic 180, 21 meters long/180 passengers

Super Artic 210, 22 meters long/210 passengers

Gran Artic 300, 30 meters long/300 passengers.

At 30 meters (98 feet), the Gran Artic’s capacity of 300 people is larger than a New York subway car. A typical passenger bus holds only 55 people. The design, bi-articulated, which utilizes two accordion-like joints, is not new to Brazil, but bi-articulated buses have yet to appear in the US.

The bus was produced by Volvo specifically for the Brazilian market, and hence the name, Gran Artic, which comes from the Portuguese words for great (grande) and articulated (articulado).

BRT system developed for Colombia

BRT system developed for Colombia

“We are proud to say that the world’s largest bus is a Volvo and that it was developed in Brazil,” affirms Idam Stival, Volvo Bus Latin America sales engineering coordinator. He remembers when the first bi-articulated model, launched in the early 1990s, was developed by Volvo in Brazil.

The smaller Super Artic 210 offers versatility of passenger movement with its five entrance doors. The extra door increases passenger boarding and exiting speed, and enables better passenger distribution inside the bus. Another added benefit of this model is the vehicle uses only three axles, as in smaller bus models, thus holding down operating costs.

Volvo has a dedicated program to help public administrators and urban transportation operators to choose the vehicles and solutions best suited for their organized transportation system. This program is called the Volvo Mobility Program (VMP). The purpose is to involve people who manage urban public transportation to evaluate and develop customized transport solutions, based on each city’s features and needs.

“The VMP’s objective is to enhance people’s quality of life through the dissemination of information that will lead to higher productivity and higher quality for urban transportation systems,” emphasized Ayrton Amaral, Volvo Bus Latin America Urban Mobility specialist.

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