Minibuses start to make financial sense where large buses become unprofitable: for example, in sparsely populated regions, in neighbourhood transport, outside of peak hours in school and commuter transport or in challenging topography and narrow streets, where large vehicles are not manoeuvrable enough or are too wide. For such routes, Regionalverkehr Köln GmbH (RVK) has developed a new transport concept based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter City 65. The seven minibuses the company ordered were handed over on 2 December 2015 on the premises of RVK in Meckenheim. Hansmartin Rosin, Mercedes-Benz Fleet and Government Sales, presented the symbolic key to the new Sprinter fleet to Eugen Puderbach, Managing Director of Regionalverkehr Köln GmbH.
Flexibility is 7.72 m Long
With a length of 7.72 m, the Sprinter City 65 is the centrepiece of this versatile minibus range. Its special features include a discrete body with panoramic side windows and a windscreen extending up to the roof edge. The Sprinter City is often referred to as a "close relative" of the Citaro bus family. Justifiably so, because the minibus comes with a host of equipment features that put it on par with the large urban bus. The grab rails and the seats were derived from the Citaro, for example. Three folding seats on the standing-room platform of the low-floor section and 13 + 1 high-strength CSE (City Star Eco) seats make a total transport capacity of 26 passengers in the RVK vehicles possible. To facilitate boarding for passengers with restricted mobility, the minibuses are each equipped with a folding ramp and a vehicle lowering or kneeling function. The lowering of the vehicle reduces the boarding height to 270 mm - relevant for passenger loading and unloading at non-raised bus stops. In combination with the wide outward swinging doors and a standing headroom of 2.20 m (low-floor section), the Sprinter City 65 presents itself as markedly large and inviting. An 8-kW air conditioning system in the passenger compartment and a 7-kW air conditioning system for the area of the driver's workplace ensure a good climate.
The fact that the Sprinter City 65 vehicles are real urban buses from
Mercedes-Benz is evidenced by the many safety features that come as standard. They help in mastering critical driving situations better and make the Sprinter minibuses the safest in their class. For example, Adaptive ESP: By selectively managing the brakes and the engine, this safety system increases the handling stability of the vehicle, especially during high-speed cornering or sudden evasive manoeuvres. The Start-Off Assist system (AAS) prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards on inclines. It maintains the set brake pressure for about two seconds after the brake pedal has been released and thereby makes starting-off on inclines easier. For extra safety, RVK has additionally equipped all vehicles with a video monitoring system. Two cameras record what's going on in the passenger compartment and transmit the moving images to a monitor on the instrument panel and a hard drive recorder.
Regionalverkehr Köln GmbH
RVK is a modern service provider for public transit. Its transport area covers about 3500 km2 and has more than 2.8 million inhabitants. RVK provides transport services in the cities of Cologne, Bonn, Leverkusen, Solingen and Remscheid as well as in parts of the Oberbergisches Land District, the Düren District, the Aachen metro region, the Rhine District Neuss and the Ahrweiler District in Rhineland-Palatinate. The company thus connects urban population centres with sparsely populated rural regions. A total of about 2130 km of routes and 2560 bus stops are divided into 110 bus routes (as of 2013). The company's fleet currently comprises about 320 vehicles.
The line service jobs of the new Sprinter City 65 minibuses will be in the Rhine-Sieg District on the left bank of the Rhine in the communities of Swisttal and Alfter, among others. To a lesser extent, the minibuses will also see service in Bonn.