Gerardo Múgica
Partner México
Alexander Dennis
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View from the Top

A Different Choice for Mexico’s Successful BRT

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 12:33

Q: What made Alexander Dennis’ Enviro 500 double-decker buses the preferred choice for Line 7 of Metrobús?
A: We were in a good position since approximately 60 percent of the double-decker buses in the world are manufactured by Alexander Dennis. We presented our proposal to Metrobús with great success, which was later escalated to SEMOVI and to the then-Mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Mancera. However, we did not sell our buses directly to the government. Rather, we negotiated with private operators to showcase our vehicles as the best option for the city’s mobility. As a concessional system, we did not have to enter a tender with the government but we did compete with other companies that also wanted to supply their units. Once we found out which companies would be the future concessionaires, we started lobbying with them and they realized that we had the experience and backbone to support a project such as Line 7. Operating in Reforma Avenue was a huge break for us. Normally, companies arrive to a country by selling one or two units to a couple of fleets. Instead, we arrived to one of the most important corridors in the city, which gave us a unique visibility as a new brand in the country.
Q: What were the benefits of substituting the old microbus units operating in Reforma with Alexander Dennis units?
A: Thanks to the implementation of Line 7, the city managed to reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 19,000 ton. Originally, there were 350 microbus operators in Reforma that transformed to 180 single-decker units when Corredor Villa Lomas and Corredor Bicentenario were implemented. These units were operational until Mar. 4, 2018. Alexander Dennis’ 90 units were inaugurated into the new Metrobús corridor the very next day.
When implementing a new mobility solution, we must consider the vehicle’s performance and its benefits per capita. While a car or another type of bus might offer a better mileage-per-gallon rate, our buses are capable of transporting 130 people thanks to their double-decker configuration. Having said that, Alexander Dennis’ buses feature the most advanced engines in the entire country’s vehicle park. We had to provide all the equipment and the spare parts necessary to service these units because they were the first of their kind in Mexico. Line 7 is the first double-decker corridor in Latin America and the first major double-decker BRT line in the entire world. Furthermore, we are the only company in Mexico providing aluminum buses,thus offering another advantage in terms of performance and sustainability. The same bus manufactured in steel would weigh approximately 2 tons more.
Q: What opportunities do you see to improve public transportation in Mexico?
A: The industry must change its mindset so more people use public transportation, not because they have to but because they want to. For that, companies must opt for better-quality buses that can offer clients safe, clean and comfortable passage. In the end, this is a matter of dignity in the use of public transportation. This, of course, entails a change in tariffs, which is a very sensible topic in the country. Especially when considering the low-income population, tariffs cannot be easily raised. However, every low-entry, high-technology system in the world is currently subsidized. Economically speaking, I am against easy subsidies as a solution to general cities’ needs. But, to improve public transportation we must understand that there are certain problems with special social implications that can only be solved via government economic aid.
Q: What role does Alexander Dennis want to have in the development of the Mexican automotive industry?
A: We see great potential in the midibus segment of between 8.5m and 11m. Our challenge at the moment is to build enough presence and stronger relationships with operators to build a retail market. Projects like Line 7 of Metrobús take years in consolidating but if operators became more involved and participative in the development of their fleets, we could close faster, smaller deals with projects that just need small renovations or adjustments in their offering.

 

Alexander Dennis is a British bus manufacturer with branches in the UK, US, Canada, Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand and most recently Mexico. The company is the world’s leading manufacturer of double-decker buses