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13 Citaro LE and two Sprinter City 65 vehicles for Verkehrsgesellschaft Gersprenztal mbH (VGG)
- Public vehicle presentation at Lorsch Abbey UNESCO World Heritage site
- VRN praises enhanced appeal of local public transport
- VGG operating on behalf of Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Neckar GmbH (VRN)
On 26 November 2015 at the Lorsch Abbey UNESCO World Heritage site, Verkehrsgesellschaft Gersprenztal mbH (VGG) and Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Neckar GmbH (VRN) staged a public presentation of 13 new Mercedes-Benz Citaro LE (Low Entry) vehicles and two Mercedes-Benz Sprinter City 65 vehicles for serving the new Ried bus network. In the presence of Christian Engelhardt, Head of the Bergstrasse District Authority, Rüdiger Kappel, Head of Sales Mercedes-Benz Buses, officially handed over the vehicles to the companies that will be providing the transport services: VGG, represented by owners Rainer Sauter and Karl Reinhard Wissmüller; and the bus company Walter Müller Reise GmbH & Co. KG, represented by managing directors Martin and Ludwig Müller.
Low Entry is a blend of sophisticated urban and inter-urban attributes
Rüdiger Kappel: "The ordered Citaro LE vehicles are a model variant from the successful Citaro modular system. The Low Entry combines the advantages of a low-floor bus with those of a raised-floor vehicle. This 'hybrid principle' enhances passenger comfort and, thanks to the low-floor design, also caters to the needs of passengers with restricted mobility."
While the Citaro LE is virtually identical to the low-floor Citaro rigid bus up to the area behind the middle entrance door, the rear part of the vehicle is designed as a raised-floor bus, allowing straightforward and maintenance-friendly installation of the components in the rear area. The rear part of the passenger compartment additionally offers enhanced ride comfort, as the drive axle and transmission originate from Mercedes-Benz's inter-urban bus and touring coach modular system. Thanks to its raised roof, the Citaro LE also offers space for standing passengers in the rear. Despite the increased height inside, the Citaro retains its slender and uniquely striking exterior appearance. In the side view, the 310 mm higher floor from the middle of the vehicle is revealed only by the roof attachment which extends further to the front, while the rear end is also derived directly from the rigid bus. Only the cooling fins on the right of the boot lid and the raised roof transition allude to the Low Entry model variant.
Local public transport requirement 3.0
"With the reallocation, we are also primarily modernising the deployed bus fleet. The uniform blue VRN design of the new vehicles is intended to further raise public awareness of local public transport. In future the buses will provide us with real-time data around the clock so that we can inform passengers online about delays or disruptions to the service," emphasises Dr Michael Winnes, legal advisor to Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Neckar GmbH, alluding to the GPS location data management in the interaction between VRN control centre, driver and the interior displays showing the route plus visual and audible bus-stop indicators. Given the interior measures that have been implemented for VRN, the term 'modernise' seems almost understated. That's because, in addition to the disability-friendly equipment such as a folding ramp, wheelchair bay and large standing-only platform, passengers also get the comfortable Inter Star Eco (ISE) inter-urban seats, a wood-effect floor covering, interior displays in the shape of 18-inch TFT monitors, a highly effective air conditioning system, free WiFi and video surveillance of the entire interior.
Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Neckar is based on the cooperation between Zweckverband Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Neckar (ZRN), comprising 24 rural and urban districts and independent towns in the three German states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse, and its subsidiary Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Neckar GmbH (VRN GmbH) with Unternehmensgesellschaft Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Neckar GmbH (URN GmbH), comprising over 50 transport companies, which include VGG and Walter Müller Reise GmbH & Co. KG.