Brasil is a country of enormous contrasts. In many cases, it is the dividing line between urban areas and rural regions that defines an invisible frontier dividing wealth and poverty, lack of opportunity and well-situated circumstances. Those who can, attempt to make their way into a city. This requires money, however, and thus funds that many people simply do not possess.
Among the essential tools whilst pursuing the path to a better future therefore are public transport buses. Thus, the Ministry for Social Development (today the Citizens’ Ministry) ordered 500 mini buses type Volksbus 8.160 ODR from Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus, which are slated for near-term delivery. Offering a capacity of 25 passengers, these vehicles can transport about half a million people per year — which amounts to roughly 20,000 bus trips through the villages and towns of rural Brasil.
The ordered vehicle type, namely the mini bus model Volksbus 8.160 ODR, was developed for travelling on rough and rolling roads in remote rural areas. “This bus actually features the technical equipment of an off-road vehicle, such as a more robust chassis with elevated suspension, a differential lock, mixed-size tyres, as well as stabiliser bars,” explains Ricardo Alouche, Vice President Sales, Marketing and Customer Service at Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus.
Most likely turning these buses into a very popular means of transport is an additional advantage: “All buses are equipped for the disabled and access with a wheel chair becomes a trouble-free experience.” During the model development phase, Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus also thought of passenger comfort factors: “As temperatures in Brasil are either extremely hot or exceedingly cold, we equipped the buses with both air conditioning, as well as heating,” (explains Alouche).
How can access to modes of transport be improved in rural regions?
Incidentally, the Volksbus 8.160 ODR is the very model already deployed in Brasil via the school route initiative Caminho da Escola for the last 12 years. The objective of Caminho da Escola is to ensure that children experience a safe commute to their educational institutions, which quite often are far away from home. Every year, 18,000 VWCO vehicles transport about four million children to school.
“Akin to the school bus programme, the Citizens’ Ministry creates new opportunities for all social classes in Brasil,” says Marco Saltini, Director of Governmental and Institutional Matters at Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus. “The 500 new buses are intended for supporting the integration of a poorer population, primarily comprised of people living in remote regions. And the objective is offering them approximately similar opportunities in the countryside as compared to urban areas.” Ricardo Alouche adds: “In working with the Citizens’ Minstry, the minibus programme provides a new standard, not only in rural Brasil, but also in major cities. In Resende, the location of our plant, several of these buses are already in operation. And we observed that they offer enormous benefits to people.” And Marco Saltini comments: “As we are well aware that the rural areas in our nation need our support, we are proud of this programme and are glad to implement it, as we are determined to pro-actively contribute to social change.”