Mobility

Nine-metre MyCiTi buses roll off Epping production line

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MyCiTi is helping to boost local industry and create jobs, as the first buses for the upcoming Central City services roll off the production line at the Busmark factory in Epping.

Busmark 2000 won the R660-million tender to produce the first 190 nine-metre buses that will be needed for the upcoming MyCiTi services. The company started kitting out its new factory just two months ago, and work is progressing fast.

“The first buses have just been finished and 30 will be produced by the end of June. Approximately 20 more will be finished each month thereafter until all the buses are available,” said Malcolm Wilken, general manager of Busmark Western Cape.

A MyCiti bus outside the Busmark 2000 factory in Epping

A MyCiTi bus outside the Busmark 2000 factory in Epping

“We are extremely pleased that a local company won this contract. They are producing buses of an outstanding quality. We believe this is the beginning of this industry, as many such buses will be needed as Bus Rapid Transport systems expand in cities across South Africa,” said Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Roads and Stormwater Councillor  Brett Herron.

“The buses are Optare Solos, assembled from kits that are imported from Leeds, in the UK, as they are not available locally. About 80 workers are currently employed at the Epping factory and the number will rise to 120 next month, when production is in full swing,” said Wilken.

“Busmark is sourcing tyres, batteries, windscreens, paint, seats and as many other parts as possible from local suppliers, indirectly boosting other local businesses. We believe we could export components back to the UK, if we can have them produced at competitive prices here. When the UK company had some supply problems recently, they sourced parts from South Africa,” Wilken added.

Busmark is based in Randfontein, and set up the Elsies River factory when it was awarded the MyCiTi contract. Now there are rows of buses, in various stages of completion, along the factory floor. Spraypainters, mechanics, body shapers and welders are hard at work, along with many unskilled and semi-skilled workers.

The Optare Solos are considerably smaller than the MyCiTi buses currently in use, and better able to navigate the roads and corners in residential areas. They are low-floor vehicles with boarding bridges and no steps, to create level boarding at pavement level, allowing the disabled, elderly and others with limited mobility to use the service. They have air suspension, like the MyCiTi buses currently in service, and meet stringent Euro 5 emission standards.

Busmark’s other clients include Golden Arrow Bus Service, eThekwini municipality, the Tanzanian government and the Maputo municipality. It also produced the feeder buses for the Gautrain service.

“As a company, we’re particularly proud to be associated with MyCiTi because if you look at BRT services in South Africa, this is the flagship of them all,” Wilken said.

The staff at the Epping Busmark 2000 factory

The staff at the Epping Busmark 2000 factory

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Images: Bruce Sutherland, City of Cape Town

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