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Interstate Bus Lines – 40th anniversary and 100th MAN bus

Founded in 1975 by commuter bus pioneers, Abel Erasmus and Fred Kinnear, Interstate Bus Lines is the largest passenger bus operation in the Free State province, deploying 253 buses with routes running between Bloemfontein and outlying rural areas including Thaba ‘Nchu, Botshabelo, Brandfort and Soutpan.

Interstate Bus Lines, the largest passenger bus operation in the Free State province, deploying 253 buses with routes in Thaba ‘Nchu, Botshabelo, Brandfort and Soutpan

Interstate Bus Lines ' 79-seat MAN Lion’s Explorer HB4 Bus
There is comfort and safety inside the 79-seat MAN Lion’s Explorer HB4 Bus.

The company celebrated its 40th anniversary and the arrival of its 100th MAN near Bloemfontein recently.

According to Interstate Bus Lines ’s Chief Operating Officer, Christo du Plessis, “Interstate Bus Lines transports between 22 000 and 25 000 passengers per day in one direction, operating services from 04:00 to midnight, seven days a week.

Our fleet of single buses and bus trains travels a total of 17 million kilometres per annum, much of this on gravel roads.” Interstate Bus Lines first introduced MAN buses to its mixed fleet in 2007.

MAN commuter bus derivatives will towards the end of 2015 make up 45% of the Interstate Bus Lines ‘  fleet, including 74 MAN bus-trains, 34 MAN Solo buses and seven Volkswagen buses.

“MAN has played a pivotal role in our fleet rationalisation process over the last eight years…”

“MAN has played a pivotal role in our fleet rationalisation process over the last eight years. Our objective in 2007 was to standardise our fleet and enhance our technical efficiency. We have a MAN-accredited workshop, which enables us to sustain a 99,8% trip cover ratio,” explains du Plessis.

MAN buses are capable of carrying more passengers than competitor models, improving our carrying capacity by 14% in the bus-trains and by 21% in the single buses. “Fuel-savings delivered by our MAN fleet are another critical business benefit, with our MAN bus-trains using six litres less per 100 kilometres than our older bus-trains, while our MAN Solo buses are saving Interstate Bus Lines seven litres per 100 kilometres travelled.

Interstate Bus Lines will replace its old 65-seat and 100-seat buses with MAN’s derivatives to optimise seating capacity and cost savings

George Mokgothu, Interstate Bus Lines CEO, with the founders of Interstate Bus Lines, Fred Kinnear and Abel Erasmus.
George Mokgothu, Interstate Bus Lines CEO, with the founders of Interstate Bus Lines, Fred Kinnear and Abel Erasmus.

Interstate Bus Lines will in future replace all its old 65-seat and 100-seat capacity buses with MAN derivatives to optimise seating capacity and cost savings,” he adds. Both Interstate Bus Lines ’  bus-trains (115-seater) and Solo buses (79-seater) from MAN are based on the front-engine Lion’s Explorer HB4 bus chassis.

The HB4 is ideally suited to commuter transport in rural areas, combining rugged construction with passenger comfort and safety features including air suspension and an advanced braking system.

“The spirit of entrepreneurship made Interstate Bus Lines what it is today…”

A Euro III MAN diesel engine, with automated manual transmission, ensures optimum fuel efficiency. Chief Executive Officer of Interstate Bus Lines, George Mokgothu, says: “The spirit of entrepreneurship made Interstate Bus Lines what it is today, and continues to be nurtured in all divisions of our operation.

Skills development is a key element of our strategy to offer excellent service and value for money to our customers. “We have a highly efficient driver training centre that includes a medical facility to ensure driver wellness.”

 

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Tristan Wiggill
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