Volvo Buses gathers BRT experts as part of future city solution strategy

We were asked by Volvo Buses (through VREF) to organize a short Workshop to the Executive Directors of Volvo Buses in Gothenburg. The Workshop was finally delivered on February 11 and 12 in the Rosared Mansion, 40 kms away from Gothenburg. The Centre was represented by Rosario Macario, Haris Koutsopoulos, Darío Hidalgo, Ricardo Giesen and myself. We had two other speakers: Joaquin Losada, one of the owners of the multinational bus operation firm Fanalca, and Graham Smith from HSBC (the only bank that has an office specially devoted to BRT projects). The Workshop was attended by around 15 of the most important executives in Volvo buses. The Workshop was very vivid, raising a great discussion on what the role of a leading firm like Volvo should be to support a successful BRT industry. We invited them to get involved beyond their role of producing and selling the buses the cities need, since the same great buses can be part of a failed or of a successful system. We need Volvo to think “out of the bus” and collaborate with cities on other aspects that are crucial for delivering a mobility solution that reaches the expectations. For example, infrastructure, interaction with pedestrians and bicycles, management, control, etc .

This is the text Volvo shared internally about the workshop:

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is not a one man show. It is a solution that involves stakeholders such as city planners, authorities, banks, bus manufacturers and bus operators. As part of the Volvo Group city solution strategy, Volvo Buses gathered this week key stakeholders and experts to discuss, share best practices and inspire to the next step in further developing Volvo Buses BRT strategy.

BRT solutions are growing on global basis, and operate today in 149 cities. Additional 84 cities are in the planning phase, which is a great opportunity for the Volvo Group. «Bus Rapid Transfer is a corner stone in Volvo Buses long term strategy towards sustainable bus transport solutions. We have a leading position globally within this area», says Håkan Karlsson, CEO, Volvo Buses.

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«Historically we have a strong presence in BRT solutions in South America, but now we need to expand our BRT plans to other parts of the world. I think megacities in Asia have huge potential from a mass transportation perspective along with smaller European cities where the purpose is more related to improving quality of life in the city centre» he continues.

«It will however require a business approach that focuses on the total offer and solution and we need to get involved outside the bus. I am very satisfied with the seminar and it will serve as a base for developing and concretizing the next step in Volvo Buses BRT strategy».

Participants in the meeting were among others Fanalca Group, HSBC, Volvo Group, EMBARQ, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Anneli Hulthén, Mayor and Chairman of the City Executive in Gothenburg.