Proud day as George Link purchases own buses

MAN bus handover

The MAN buses with their slightly different profile were delivered in batches over the last few months and have already become a familiar sight in the streets of George. The official handover was celebrated in high spirits with various stakeholders, from George Link directors to officials from the Western Cape province and George Municipality. From left are Lionel Fortuin (director), Manon McDonald (George Municipality Fleet Manager), James Robb (GO GEORGE Manager), Hannes Wannenburg (George Link CFO), cllr Charlotte Clarke (Deputy Mayor), John Heathcote (director), Aliva George (director) and Richard von Wielligh (representing the Director of Protection Services, George Municipality).

The George Integrated Public Transport Network (GIPTN) reached a historic milestone in the project when MAN Truck & Bus recently handed over the complete order of 18 new buses to George Link, the vehicle operating company providing transport services to GO GEORGE.

Part of the implementation of the GIPTN project was to see a company established out of former taxi operators that could go on to deliver various kinds of public transport services in George. The contractual agreement was that the initial fleet would be purchased by George Municipality and leased to George Link, and that any additional buses needed after three years from rolling out the bus service, would be acquired by the operating company.

According to John Heathcote, Director and Operational Manager of George Link, this was a momentous occasion for all shareholders. “We are very emotional about this milestone, especially if you consider where we’ve come from and where we stand today. We appreciate the support of the Municipality as well as Province, who have made this possible.”

Heathcote says it was an exceptional experience working with MAN to customise the company’s buses. “We eventually felt ashamed to go back to them with yet another request of something we’d like to see on our buses, but they simply complied with our wish list and Government’s specifications; it was a process of open negotiations and mutual respect. MAN’s commitment and fervour to do business is further demonstrated by the new branch they’d opened in George now, where maintenance on the buses will be undertaken.”

James Robb, GO GEORGE Manager, congratulated George Link on the first purchase of their own buses. “GO GEORGE is a transformation project and to see George Link taking ownership of their own bus fleet is seeing those who had been part of the taxi industry in George, being further empowered as the project was aimed to do. George Link explored as many options in the market as possible; their buses match Government’s specifications and the company’s expectations. We trust the acquisition of these buses will assist the shareholders to take their company to even greater heights.”

A delegation from MAN Truck & Bus SA flew to George to officiate the handover. Tiago Dias, Head of Department, National Bus Accounts commented on the process that had started at the end of 2016. “We’re proud to have become part of the journey of George Link, considering where they have come from and where they are now. We are market leaders, we have a good product, and George was the only place in the country where we did not have buses – it was about time to get some MAN buses into George! It was a great honour to deal with the guys; they’re very professional and the process was seamless. It inspires us to see the system work with buses wherever you drive in George; it’s good for the people, it’s good for George, and it’s most rewarding to be part of this.”

With the addition of the 18 MAN buses, the GO GEORGE fleet now stands at 54 standard buses (including the MAN buses), 33 midibuses and 35 minibuses. This fleet will see the bus service through the next phase of expansion, but will have to be expanded for any roll-outs after Phase 4.

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