British Bus Fleet for Cuba
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AREMARKABLE order in that hardest of hard currencies, the mighty dollar, has just been secured by a famous British chassis-making concern. Reference to which is made elsewhere in this issue. Amounting in all to some 10,000,000 dollars, it covers the supply of 620 buses, with appropriate spare parts, which, within 15 months, are to replace the whole tramway system of Havana, the beautiful capital of Cuba.
Apart from being an outstanding contribution towards the reduction of Britain's dollar gap, we can well be proud that a famous British company and one of our best-known bodybuilders have combined to produce a type of vehicle which hasaaken precedence over all its rivals in the U.S.A. and on the Continent.
The establishment of a complete bus system in such an important South American city will certainly exercise a most favourable influence upon other potential buyers of commercial vehicles— and not only buses—both in this huge part of the American continent and, possibly, elsewhere.
One particularly interesting fact was that it was an American businessman, at one time his country's ambassador in Brazil and Peru, who was invited by the President of Cuba to arrange for the replacement of the tramway system in question.
His procedure was to form a company to take over the existing assets, conduct the negotiations, and operate the new fleet for a few years, after which the company and the system would be taken over by the Government of Cuba. It was only after a thorough investigation of the whole position and of the types of vehicle which could be made available, that he selected the British vehicles.
No further proof is required that in the field'of the public-service vehicle in particular, the products of Britain can vie with those of every other country in respect of quality, price and production. This was, of course, an exceptional order which could be accepted only by concerns with the most extensive facilities. It is worthy of note, however, that every assistance was given by the Export Credits Guarantee Department of the Board of Trade, without the aid of which the deal could not have been satisfactorily concluded.
The conversion of the complete tramway system of Havana is no small task in itself, but to it is added the problem of training over 5,500 men and women employees (which number will be raised to 7,500 in six months) in their new duties. To achieve this, three schools have been established in Havana at the expense of the new Cuban company, /nd these will operate a 16-hour day in four-hour shifts, whilst an expert from the maker's works is being sent immediately.