Noticeably inconspicuous: minibuses for environmentally sensitive inner-city areas

The regional transport service RVK in Cologne has recently demonstrated the the new route concept based on minibuses for urban area services is ideal where the topography is demanding. And now LOOK GmbH in Kleve is giving a new order of importance to a new Sprinter route: from January 2016 a Sprinter City 77 will be in operation solely for the environmentally sensitive inner-city area of route 49. The route starts at the train station, and covers large areas of the pedestrian precinct in Kleve. On 8 January 2016, Thorsten Scheibe from Mercedes-Benz Minibus Sales handed the minibus over to Stephan Kreth, General Manager of LOOK Busreisen GmbH and Christian Kleinenhammann, executive board member of Niederrheinische Verkehrsbetriebe Aktiengesellschaft (NIAG).

Agile, inconspicuous and quiet: the ideal business partner for local traders

Urban public transport in pedestrian areas has become a political hot potato in many cities. While the aim is to link pedestrian areas seamlessly to the urban public transport system, the bus or rail routes involved lead to certain difficulties. Urban traffic planners fear that pedestrians may be endangered, while restaurants and shops complain about noise and pollutant emissions, and even detect negative changes in the buying behaviour of consumers. Things are different in Kleve, however. Here the service is particularly popular with older citizens, as they are more easily able to manage the expanding pedestrian precinct. Previously route 49 was serviced by a tourist train of the type one sees in theme parks or city tours. As
this tourist train could only run a restricted service in winter conditions, and became increasingly unusable for a number of topographically challenging areas, NIAG decided upon a route concept based on a Sprinter minibus. A three-axle Mercedes-Benz Sprinter City 77 will now service route 49 in its entirety and in any weather. The approx. 8.7-metre long minibus has exactly the attributes that are desirable for this sensitive area. With a permissible gross vehicle weight of 6.8 tonnes, it is able to carry up to 40 passengers while appearing unimposing and compact. The vehicle has a completely low-floor configuration with two twin swing-out doors, a kneeling function and folding mechanical ramps at doors 1 and 2. In the interior the passengers have the benefit of fully-fledged bus seating, with seat and backrest padding adopted from the Citaro and a large platform for standing passengers with its own wheelchair space. In addition the Sprinter City 77 with its 120 kW (163 hp) Euro VI engine performs its duties much more quietly than conventional service buses. With a wheelbase of 4100 mm and a turning circle of 17.3 metres, the minibus is manoeuvrable enough to negotiate even the narrower sections and bends on the route.

Transport operator Niederrheinische Verkehrsbetriebe AG (NIAG)

As a wholly-owned subsidiary of Niederrheinische Verkehrsbetriebe AG (NIAG), LOOK Busreisen GmbH mainly services routes in the Kleve region. The NIAG/Look fleet has a total of 179 vehicles plus 154 buses operated by contractors. As the largest provider of transport services in the lower Rhine region, the NIAG group services a route network that is as large as the state of Saarland. The approx. 2300 km network operates with 78 routes.

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