Hungarian Mini- and Midibuses: Smaller Investment, Effective Operation for a Livable Environment

Automotive

Pál Lovász

The history of KF Service Solutions Kft., founded by Pál Lovász and five others, has been linked to the Hungarian transport sector for 20 years. Not so long ago, the company operated as one of the most extensive bus repair and rental service providers for the Volán group. Nowadays, KF Service Solutions’ portfolio contains three companies connected to the public bus passenger transport market and the vehicle manufacturing and sales market.

Activities cover the operation, rental, sale, and repair of buses and also the exclusive representation of the ISUZU brand in Hungary, among other things. The company also  converts unique minibuses based on Mercedes and Renault chassis, and in 2016 it started to develop the HUNNOID bus range, best-known for its bi-articulated system that helps reduce the unit costs of public bus transport services by 30-40%. 

BBJ: Five years ago, the company introduced its proprietary HUNNOID bus range that, thanks to its bi-articulated solution, captured the industry’s attention. What are the advantages of using these buses?

Pál Lovász: HUNNOID is one of our company’s success stories, and it is also an example of how much knowledge and experience is accumulated in maintenance workshops. Developments that offer a solution for existing, practical problems are bound to be successful. The bi-articulated system ensures cheaper operation and lower emissions if the necessary capacities are fundamentally reconsidered, and midi- and minibuses become more widely used. Let me explain it to you. In Hungary, about 30% of the population uses public transport, and most of them take the bus. They do so at different times and locations and with varying levels of utilization. In the West, the ratio of midi- and minibuses in urban and interurban public transport and tourism is 20%, while the share of the same bus types in Hungary is less than 1%. However, based on our experience, the operational costs of these buses are 30-40% lower than those of traditional models, and they also present lower noise pollution and environmental pressures.

This is where HUNNOID’s offer should be considered. While the capacity of an urban bus is around 70 people, we could increase the seating of our midibuses to 50 people by using the bi-articulated system; at the same time, fuel consumption remained less than half of that of regular buses. Midi- and minibuses entail smaller investments, and thanks to their low axle load, they are allowed in certain city areas, for example, on old and narrow downtown streets, that are not accessible with large buses.

BBJ: Why, then, has the solution offered by midi- and minibuses not become widespread in Hungary?

PL: We are hopeful that this only applies to the past when innovative solutions facilitating the reconsideration of capacity needs and their fulfillment were not yet available. That is why we have invested and will continue to invest a great deal of energy into development and why we are planning to start production in Ózd, 155 km northeast of Budapest, near the border with Slovakia.

Currently, scheduled urban and interurban public transportation is not liberalized. Large transport companies are, in a way, confined by old technological solutions, and were not able to take into account more innovative and practical solutions. Our company is flexible, and reacts quickly: now, when due to the coronavirus pandemic it is important to operate more buses on the same routes, so that passengers can maintain a safe distance from each other, we can make even 200 buses available for transport companies like Volán or BKK.

BBJ: Do you plan to introduce your bi-articulated buses to the international market?

PL: We have already received some inquiries concerning the patented bi-articulated solution from large multinational OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers). In 2024, we would like to enter the international market not only with the bi-articulated HUNNOID bus but with a broader range of buses.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of  May 21, 2021.

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