More passengers with Volvo’s bus of the future

Volvo is developing the buses of the future to attract more passengers. The features being employed are attractive designs, higher capacity and a structure that will shorten travel time.

The most efficient manner by which to resolve the traffic and environmental problems in cities is to get more people to leave their cars at home and use public transport instead. Success requires attractive, comfortable and rapid transport systems.

An increasing number of cities in the world are choosing to create such transport systems based on bus traffic, also known as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

“A system that is based on buses is highly flexible,” says Peter Danielsson, who is the BRT Manager at Volvo Buses. “It is able to transport as many passengers as a rail-bound system, but at only a fraction of the cost.”

Volvo Buses is currently the leading global manufacturer of buses for BRT systems. In South America, which has the largest portion of BRT systems in the world, Volvo Buses has a market share of more than 70% in terms of buses for the systems.
 
“We have been involved since the first system was introduced in Curitiba in the 1980s and have extensive experience of the demands placed on the transport system and the buses that are used there. Consequently, we have a broad range of buses for various applications within BRT,” says Peter Danielsson.

To encourage people to leave their vehicles at home and travel by bus instead often requires that the journey time is shorter by bus or at least will not take longer. Consequently, the BRT systems are based on providing the highest possible transport efficiency.

It involves buses with high passenger capacity, regular departures, bus stops that facilitate rapid boarding and disembarkation, and in many instances separate bus lanes as well.

“In the cities that have introduced well-developed BRT systems, the improvements to the city environment are highly evident,” says Peter Danielsson. “The portion of inhabitants that choose to use public transport has increased significantly, the air quality in cities is much better and the traffic has become safer.”

However, there is more to be done to increase the attraction of buses and reduce travel time further, both in BRT systems and normal city bus traffic. Volvo Buses is highly involved in this work, particularly through the major research program entitled European Bus System of the Future (EBSF).

EBSF is a program that is supported by the European Union. Its goal is to make bus travel in cities more attractive by developing new buses, new solutions in the infrastructure and collating the good examples that already exist.

Some 47 partners participate in the research program, including the largest bus manufacturers in Europe, and the total budget is EUR 26 M.

“Jointly with our research company, Volvo Technology, we are developing an articulated bus with an optimal bus layout,” says Peter Danielsson. “The goal is for boarding and disembarkation to be as rapid as possible to reduce the time that buses stand still at bus stops.”
 
In the research, studies have been conducted on how different types of passengers behave on buses and when they board and disembark. Through an advanced simulation tool, the impact of the layout of the bus on the flow in the bus is then studied.

“In the simulation tool, we were able to add various bus layouts to see which are the most efficient,” says Peter Danielsson. 

It involves for example the number of seats and their locations, the number of doors, their sizes and locations, and where the ticket machine and seats for the disabled should be located.

In the autumn, Volvo Buses will manufacture an articulated bus based on the new research findings, a bus that will be put into service in Gothenburg from December to verify the new solutions. The bus has for example a centrally located driver’s seat with a very short front overhang, which will make room for more passengers. With a flexible interior, the capacity on the bus can be further increased.

“We have also put more energy into creating an attractive bus design,” says Peter Danielsson. “We
are convinced that it plays a key role when people choose how they travel.”