Every day, bus drivers ensure that the public can continue travelling and get safely from A to B. There is a good reason why they are classified as essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Aiming to provide the best possible protection to stop drivers contracting the coronavirus or other infections, MAN Truck & Bus is now offering a hygienic protective barrier that can be retrofitted on city buses, intercity buses and coaches. “The safety of drivers is a priority close to our hearts. Ultimately, they’re the ones who are out there day after day to keep the transport system running,” explains Heinz Kiess, Head of Product Marketing Bus at MAN Truck & Bus. “The ceiling-high screen keeps the driver’s cab separate from the passenger area, protecting both drivers and passengers.”
Precautions will need to be taken to protect bus company employees, especially once the current spacing and sanitation rules are gradually relaxed. “Front-door boarding is still prohibited and the front rows are still off-limits on many buses. As soon as these are reopened to passengers, the driver will automatically be re-exposed to much more contact with new people, whether to answer their questions or sell tickets,” Kiess adds. MAN Truck & Bus worked closely together with bus companies in a variety of countries when discussing and implementing its ideas and solutions for protecting drivers. The aim was to ensure that these satisfied the needs and preferences of operators as effectively as possible. “Naturally, the specially developed hygienic protective barriers also meet all the legal requirements and never impair the driver’s vision.”
For the new MAN Lion’s City generation, the protective screen for the driver’s workplace can either be installed as a factory-fit or retrofitted as part of MAN’s After Sales service. Customers can choose between a fully sealed version and a version with an access point for ticketing. “We’ve seen growing demand for these in the city bus market,” Kiess notes. “But we’ve also received enquiries for all other vehicles operated by our customers, such as intercity buses. We can install these quickly at the MAN Bus Modification Center in Plauen, Germany.” The bus modification experts also perform custom retrofits for models from the existing Lion’s City generation. In addition, they can convert the barrier behind the driver’s workplace into a partition on board MAN Lion’s Coach and NEOPLAN Tourliner coach models. The tall dividing screen is made of shatter-resistant polycarbonate and installed with an aluminium section, while the bottom panel is made of satin glass. “The MAN Bus Modification Center, which specialises in bespoke, practical solutions, has a particularly important role to play – especially now in the midst of this crisis,” Kiess emphasises.
The first retrofits have already been completed in Plauen, including a hygienic safety solution for VfL Wolfsburg’s MAN Lion’s Coach L. “This makes VfL Wolfsburg the first German Bundesliga club to have installed a coronavirus protection system on board its team bus.” MAN has also retrofitted dividing screens to the two Lion’s City E models being field-tested by Hamburg mass transit operators Hamburger Hochbahn AG and Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein GmbH (VHH). “As a result, these electric buses aren’t just zero-emission vehicles – they’ll also have enhanced coronavirus protection while they’re out servicing their routes,” Kiess says. In addition and as a matter of course, recommended regional, national and international hygiene and distancing rules stipulated or recommended by the relevant authorities should be adhered to in buses as well.