Over 10,000 passenger transport professionals gathered in Paris last week for the Transports Publics 2012 event – a showcase for the latest developments in public transport in France and elsewhere. Among them, and pictured above, was a hybrid version of Van Hool’s Exqui.City bus, specially tailored for the French city of Metz

Located in the north east of France, the city of Metz is home to around 300,000 people. From September 2013, the city will also be home to 27 specially designed bi-articulated, hybrid buses.

The first of these 24-metre long vehicles, designed and built for the city by Belgian manufacturer Van Hool, was just one of the innovations on display at last week’s Transports Publics 2012 show in Paris. The project marks Van Hool’s entry into the French market for BHNS (Bus à Haut Niveau de Service, or Bus with a High Level of Service). They will form the first 100%-hybrid BHNS fleet in France.

The vehicles are styled to look like a modern tram rather than a bus, with the rear end of the vehicle identical to the front. To offer some variety and character, the vehicles will operate in four different colours – green, blue, cherry and yellow and each colour will be complemented with a theme. The theme of the green vehicles, for example, will be nature, with appropriate ambient sounds playing inside the vehicle.

The vehicle was officially unveiled at Transports Publics 2012, which was visited by around 10,000 passenger transport professionals. Other examples of colourful thinking on show included moves to introduce ‘Coach Rapid Transit’, a concept that aims to challenge public perceptions of coach travel in the same way that BHNS has done for buses in France. In Strasbourg, in the east of France, a Coach Rapid Transit corridor will link the city with Wasselonne, 15 miles to the east, with high levels of segregation. The concept is described as “the road equivalent of the tram-train”.


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