If any Sakhalin partners of Minsk Automobile Works had doubted the safety of Belarusian buses, their fears have been allayed, following a marathon journey. The nine comfortable MAZ vehicles covered around 10,000km. Having traversed Siberian roads, they have arrived in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk to start operations, with only a small portion of the journey spent in special carriages and on a ferry.
The average class vehicles can carry over 70 passengers on medium length routes, and are working in the remote Russian region for the first time. Despite great distances, strong business ties exist, and Sakhalin drivers and passengers appreciate the new city buses, with their automatic gears (supplied by a famous European firm) and soft, comfortable suspension. The Mercedes-Benz diesel engine meets international Euro-5 requirements, being economic, quiet and powerful. Moreover, the MAZ buses are low floored and lower automatically each time they reach a bus stop, with a special gangway appearing to allow access for prams, and those with less mobility.
According to the Minsk Automobile Works, another 110 passenger vehicles are to be delivered to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk this year, including large and medium-sized buses, and specially equipped vehicles for schoolchildren. The plant has won three tenders, fighting off rival firms by proving its advantage.
In 2015, Minsk Automobile Works exported 522 buses to Russia, becoming the fourth largest supplier. It sold 38 buses to Rostov-on Don, 28 to Norilsk, and 80 to St. Petersburg, while 58 buses using ecologically safe natural gas were delivered to Yekaterinburg.
By Vladimir Yakovlev