Competition driving fleet upgrades on Kigali-Kampala route
Triggered when new entrant Volcano introduced the first original equipment manufacturer passenger buses in 2016, operators have started to drift away from Kenya assembled bus-bodies mounted on lorry chassis.
Modern Coast and Jaguar bus companies, longtime loyalists to Nairobi based coach builders are the latest to join the new trend with the former introducing a new Higer built cabin on a Scania Chassis while Jaguar has opted for a Yutong cabin featuring all leather seating and a water dispenser.
In this they join Trinity which is now operating a hybrid fleet of traditional Nairobi assembled bus-bodies and OEM Chinese Yutong’s.
Modern Coast’s new cabin is fresh, airy with plenty of light. It also features multiple class seating with charging ports and individual personal entertainment screens offering video on demand services.
The transporters appear to be responding to the sharp rise popularity of Volcano’s Hyundai Universe buses whose fleet on the route has now reached 26 units. The buses are popular because of a low acoustic signature, all through climate control and smooth ride.
Besides enhanced safety features that allow them to operate at much higher speeds, the Hyundai’s feature rear mounted pusher engines and transmission. Pneumatic suspension and braking means they can enter curves safely even at high speeds while the more efficient power conversion allows them to maintain robust momentum even when going uphill.
On the new buses, Modern Coast has ditched the double rear axle that dampened the impact of bumps at the rear even though the all steel construction translated into very uncomfortable vibrations and high interior noise levels.
However, the transporters efforts have not been matched by border authorities where the travel experience remains fortuitous at Katuna. Construction on the One-Stop-Border points has stalled on both the Rwandan and Ugandan sides. Travellers remain exposed to the elements while completing immigration procedures and sanitation remains pathetic with no decent toilet facilities.