Bonn. Bonn Information is looking for a new service provider as Stadtwerke Bonn pulls out of the project.
A real magnet for tourists, everyone in Bonn must have seen the open top bus on its city tours, with the striking adverts for the General-Anzeiger on the sides. But now the days of the blue and red vehicle are numbered.
"We will only be able to use the bus for the rest of this year," reported Melanie von Seth, head of Bonn Information, to the members of the Economic Committee. This is due to the technical condition of the vehicle, which was built in 1996 and is now prone to breaking down. The Stadtwerke Bonn (SWB), which previously provided both the bus and the drivers, is not prepared to invest in a refurbishment or new acquisition, von Seth said.
"We are taking the vehicle out of the fleet," confirmed SWB spokesman Werner Schui. "There is too much maintenance required to be able operate the bus economically. The Mercedes bus has 609,000 kilometres on the speedo and runs on a diesel engine with a soot filter - and therefore wears a green sticker.
The bus has been in use in recent years from April to November by Bonn Information. The "Big City Tour" is, according to the city, the most popular tour offered in the "Bonn Tours for Individual Guests". Particularly on weekends and depending on the weather, the occupancy rate is over 70 percent. "Many tourists also spontaneously buy tickets when they see the bus parked here," the head of Bonn Information told the committee.
Since the SWB are no longer interested, the local authorities have to find another service provider for the bus and the drivers. Melanie von Seth said that the specifications of the corresponding tender are currently being refined. "We are still considering whether it should really be an open top bus again. Depending on the weather, it was often impossible to hold the tour with an open roof when it was raining, cold or hot. A conceivable alternative for the tourism expert would be a bus with a panoramic roof. The concept for the tours is already being revised at Bonn Information. "I am confident that we will have a solution by 2020," promised von Seth.
A number of local politicians in the committee showed support for using an open top bus again. As far as the engine of the new vehicle was concerned, Angelica Maria Kappel of the Green party was not the only one to recognise that "it can only be electric."
According to SWB, the current bus was previously on the road in Böblingen as a public bus. Following its conversion to an open top bus, a private entrepreneur used it for city tours in Cologne. In 2011, the Stadtwerke bought the bus and overhauled it. This year there are still around 225 tours on the agenda.
(Original text: Andreas Baumann, Translation: Caroline Kusch)