Prague will test record-long bus

The Belgian-made bus is almost 25 meters long and has three sections.

(Update: 14.11 - 17:36 - video The Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) will be testing an almost 25-meter-long bus on the route to Václav Havel Airport Prague for four months. The three-section bus made by Belgian firm VanHool is the longest bus ever driven on Czech roads.

The bi-articulated bus arrived in Prague Oct. 31 and is currently at the garage in Řepy. Testing should start in the middle of November, after the bus undergoes inspection. The bus will mostly be tested on route 119 between metro stop Nádraží Veleslavín and the airport. The route has heavy use since there is no rail link from the center to the airport.

The bus measures 24.785 meters and can accommodate 181 passengers, with 74 seated. It is 2.5 meters wide and 3.2 meters high. DPP had to get an exemption from road regulations for the testing as the bus exceeds the legal limit of 18.75 meters.

Currently, DPP says it is interested in seeing how the bus performs on Prague streets. DPP has not announced any time frame for purchasing the buses or how many it would be interested in, if any.

The same model bus is already in use in Utrecht and Groningen in the Netherlands; Hamburg, Germany; and Geneva, Switzerland.

In February 2016 DPP tested the Mercedes-Benz CapaCity L, which is 22 meters long and was the longest bus on Czech roads at the time. That bus had two sections, compared to the three of the VanHool bus. The CapaCity L can carry 191 passengers. No plans have been announced regarding the purchase of that model bus either.

VanHool built two prototypes of the AGG330 bus in the 1990s, and both are still in service. One is in Liège, Belgium, and the other in Angola. The design of the front of the bus was updated in 2001, and Utrecht's transit company placed the first large order for them in 2002.

ABC-Companies, which is the exclusive distributor of VanHool in North America, has plans to introduce them on that market but the length exceeds regulations in most areas.

DPP currently operates some 1,100 buses with an average age of nine years old. The annual cost of bus operation is about Kč 4 billion.

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