After a multi-year comparison with manual transmissions, Allison Automatics proved to have the best overall value
KRASNOYARSK, Russia – After five years of running PAZ-3204 buses with manual transmissions and four years with Allison fully automatic transmissions, Konstantin Knapnugel recently added seven more PAZ buses to his transit fleet – all equipped with Allison Automatics.
“Before purchasing, my team discussed and compared all aspects of the buses, including repair and maintenance,” said Knapnugel. “We all agreed that the Allison fully automatic transmission is much better.”
Knapnugel has been working in the field of passenger transportation in Krasnoyarsk since 2006. There are 70 vehicles in his fleet now, including 22 PAZ-3204 buses, of which 11 are equipped with Allison Automatics.
The first two Allison-equipped PAZ-3204 buses were purchased by Knapnugel in 2012. His fleet already included similar buses with manual transmissions since 2011. So when the need for new buses arose, he decided to compare them with two Allison-equipped buses.
“Our fleet serves only city routes. Urban operation is characterized by frequent stops, so we wanted to switch to automatics,” said Knapnugel. “Our dealer offered us two PAZ buses with Allison transmissions. We decided to try them and see how they behave.”
In 2014, the fleet acquired two more Allison-equipped PAZ buses, bringing their total to four. By April 2017, the first two buses’ mileage reached 350,000 km – with an average annual run of 85,000 km.
According to Knapnugel, the long comparison showed the operating costs of buses with Allison Automatics are lower compared to those with a manual. “The cost of a 1-km run of a bus with a manual transmission is 3.74 rubles, and it amounts to 3.19 rubles for the automatic transmission.”
Continuing the comparison of his manual- and automatic-transmission buses, Konstantin said that the driver’s qualification and responsibility are of great importance in the operation of buses with a manual transmission.
“Qualified drivers can run on one clutch up to 80,000 to 100,000 km. Less qualified drivers wear out the clutch after 40,000 km. But then again, a lot depends on the situation. The maintenance mechanic takes the driver’s words for clutch problems when inspecting buses before a trip. So, the driver waits until the clutch plate is completely worn out and starts destroying the clutch assembly. If you miss this moment, the clutch assembly – which is several times more expensive than the clutch plate – breaks down. Consequently, both the repair cost and downtime increase substantially with a manual transmission.”
Allison Automatics are unique because, instead of a clutch assembly, they use a torque converter which experiences very little wear and requires only periodic fluid and filter changes to maintain peak performance.
According to Knapnugel, another important advantage of PAZ-3204 buses with Allison transmissions is preventing the driver from moving until the doors are closed. “This significantly increases the level of safety. Sometimes, on buses with a manual transmission, the driver forgets to close, or closes the doors after the bus has started to move. This can lead to a passenger being injured.”
Knapnugel plans to continue increasing the number of medium-class buses in his fleet. Having considered the pros and cons of vehicles equipped with manual and automatic transmissions, his team has agreed on PAZ buses equipped with Allison Automatics.