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Local transport meets wow

Innovation bus to inspire Frankfurt for local transport

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A new type of "innovation budget" from the public transport authority traffiQ has been used to finance a bus that is intended to motivate people to switch to local transport with innovative ideas and an unusual design. Taking to the streets of Frankfurt am Main in summer.

Modern computer rendering of a bus interior with four seats, folding seats and armchairs above the wheel arch. There are many screens on the roof displaying information and a blue sky.

Visualisation of the front interior © KesselsGranger DesignWorks

The vehicle, dubbed "ShowBus Frankfurt - Driven by Innovation", is being developed jointly by Frankfurt's public transport company traffiQ, DB Regio Bus Mitte and bus manufacturer Ebusco. The ShowBus offers numerous special features in terms of interior design and passenger information. A team of experts is currently working on the development of the bus and preparing it for daily use.

Innovation in the background

Not only is the bus itself innovative, but also how the project came about: as Prof Tom Reinhold, Managing Director of traffiQ, and Arne Schneemann, Member of the Management Board at DB Regio, explain in an article in the trade magazine Der Nahverkehr , a way was sought to take into account "unforeseeable technological developments" in the long-term tenders for bus services. For this reason, an annual innovation budget of 350,000 euros was included in the tender for route bundle B, which was won by DB Regio. In consultation with the client, the funds are to be used to implement innovative projects that benefit the common good or passengers.

"With the ShowBus, we are demonstrating that innovations can also succeed in a competitive environment and can be utilised for the benefit of passengers. This is crucial for all partners in public transport so that we can continue to achieve a high level of customer satisfaction in the future," says Reinhold. TraffiQ would also like to take the innovation budget into account in other awards in the future.

Hands-on innovation

The ShowBus is the first project to be financed with the innovation budget for the years 2023 to 2025. "It should create a wow effect as soon as you get on board, it should be something different. We want satisfied passengers who enjoy travelling on public transport because they experience a service tailored to their needs," explained Frank Klingenhöfer, CEO of DB Regio Straße. The main aim is to inspire travellers to switch to local transport. Once the ShowBus has been completed, it will be in regular operation on the eight bus routes in the Höchst bundle.

Modern computer rendering of a bus interior with a surrounding, upholstered bench seat in a night-time environment. Reflections and illuminated displays on the window surfaces, the screens on the ceiling show a starry sky.

The interior lounge in the back © KesselsGranger DesignWorks

An interdisciplinary team of experts from the vehicle industry, suppliers, DB Regio Bus Mitte and traffiQ is developing the bus from scratch. The 12 metre version of the Ebusco 3.0 battery bus serves as the basis. Passengers will be able to choose between different zones depending on their needs: a lounge area, four individual workstations or classic bus seats. These are covered with an innovative mesh material that can be easily removed and cleaned in the washing machine. During the process, the originally planned standing seats with leaning options were discarded in favour of flexibly movable folding seats. This idea was inspired by the DB Ideenzug and has never been used on a bus before.

A special lighting concept provides orientation in the bus, and information will be presented on all-round displays in future. The six large LED panels under the roof lining are also designed to create a special effect. Semi-transparent displays in the windows and on the doors show real-time data, neighbourhood maps for selected stops and information on roadworks and disruptions.

"We deliberately used sustainable and high-quality materials when designing this one-off," said Reinhold at the launch. Passenger reactions to this special one-off vehicle are being collected through market research in order to take customer wishes into account for future series vehicles.


Jan Klein