pátek 22. května 2009
The only Mercedes Microbus
I took my chance to get acquainted with the masters of the only Microbus in Cartagena built on technology of Mercedes-Benz, and by this also to gain further knowledge about the public tranportation in Cartagena.
I can witness myself more and more sections of the so called "Transcaribe" construction being finished, which will soon exclude lead to acquisition of all the public transportation companies by the company of the same name. Transcaribe shall introduce fast buses going up and down the main Avenida, and no other buses will be allowed there. The rest of the routes will continue to be served, but the smaller operations are said to will be unified under Transcaribes direction. Therefor, many of the eldest (and most picturesque) buses are expected to disappear...
I have noted something different first time I took (not knowingly) the only Mercedes-Benz bus like a month ago. We have to admit, that this creation is not that appealing from the outside, and it cant be recognised as the Mercedes, unless one recognises the different wheel rims. The carroserie is custom-made, ane the frontal part bears unidentified headlights and no radiator grille. What is noticeable, is the placement of the engine compartment way out front, which is something rare in this size of the buses. Only in the interior, the typical Sprinter dashboard tells the story.
But offcourse once inside and on the way, we instantly feel that is not the common Chevrolet-Isuzu technology that we deal with here. When it comes to the fluency of the ride, its subjectively 30 - 40 % better than that of Isuzu which jerks anytime the driver brakes or accelerates, not speaking about the rough clutch that launches passengers all around the bus each time the gear is changed:) The clutch of Mercedes is much softer, the same applies on effect of brakes and on suspension. The auditory comfort of passangers is subjectively 40 - 50% better, as the engine runs much smoother and quieter, and as it is not place within the cabin but in the front and accessible from the outside.
Now we also have to consider the driving style of the two brothers - owners, who are middle-aged and obviously take pride in their vehicle, thus not being rough with it as we can witness in cases of many of the young drivers / common buses. But stil, even with a bad driver the increase of comfort would be clearly perceivable.
As I spoke with one of the two brothers who was currently not driving to find out about history of this bus. Both brothers were drivers for Coointracar, but they made a deal with the company that they will substitute the "standard" bus by their own one. They bought the Sprinter chassis and had the carosery built by the company "International" in Barranquilla. I have been told that this vehicle is very reliable as the control systems are mechanical and not electronic, as it is case with other Sprinters which (but with the original body) are used by MarSol and one other company to facilitate intercity passenger transport.
This story is just another proof of the superiority of german engineering:)