Archive for July, 2011

The last of the old Soon Chow bus

July 26, 2011

The last survivor of the old style Soon Chow bus PH1943R, a Mercedes OF1318 registered on 5 July 1993, two more years to go before it must be taken out of service as required by law :
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All other buses with similar body type had already been deregistered.
This body style was first introduced by Soon Chow in the early 1970s. It was widely used by public, school and private bus operators. One of them was even built as a mobile clinic for the Singapore Blood Bank. This Soon Chow model held the record as one that was mounted on the most variety of bus chassis : Austin, Albion, Bedford, Berliet, Ford, Hino, Isuzu, Leyland, Mercedes, Seddon and Tata. The body originally came with ribbed body panels, which at the time of introduction, something very new. Soon other body builders also follow and use ribbed body panels on their products. The body style undergone some facelift in 1980s with the all aluminium front replaced by fibre glass. Smooth body panels also replaced the ribbed type on the face lifted models.
One of the first few Soon Chow bodied Mercedes OF1413 bus on SBS route 90:
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Acknowledgement : Mercedes OF1413 bus photo from National Archives Singapore

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Changi’s Albions

July 19, 2011

Changi Bus Company began increasing its fleet size in the late 1960s as part of the government’s encouragement to improve and expand bus services. New models such as Austin FF1100s, Mercedes LP1113s and Albion Viking EVK41Ls were acquired by the company. Both the FF1100s and LP1113s were built to traditional configuration with door at the centre. The Albion Vikings were built to dual door configuration with entrance at the front and the exit at the centre, similar in layout to the STC’s Japanese imported buses :
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Just like Hock Lee Amalgamated Bus Company, these Albion Vikings were also bodied by Soon Chow. However, the body design was completely different from those of Hock Lee’s. Changi’s Albions feature full depth sliding windows, sloped at an angle.
This photo was taken at Robinson Road showing three ex-Changi (transferred to Associated Bus Service) Albions. Whilst the second and third one were still in its original form, the first one’s front end was rebuilt after an accident :
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Acknowledgement : Photos from National Archives Singapore

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An unexpected bus depot visit

July 12, 2011

On a trip to Kluang in Johor, the aircon of the “Johor Super” express bus which I took died shortly after it left Larkin bus station. The bus belongs to the City Bus group (former Transitlink JB). The weather was hot and the interior of the bus heated up very quickly. All the passengers were sweating profusely. I start to wonder if the driver is going to stop along the road side and call the company for a replacement. The driver just drove on along Jalan Skudai for some distance before getting off the main road onto a side road and finally into the City Bus depot :
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The driver asked the mechanic to look at the aircon unit mounted under the bus and hopefully can get it fixed and carried on the journey. The verdict was “rosak”, cannot be fixed. By now all the passengers cannot stand the heat in the bus anymore. All of them got off the bus, stand around and wait. Some of them went into the office building and demanded for another bus to continue the journey. Some bus company guy then came out and told everyone that there was no spare bus! Around the depot, there were many buses parked, all of them were not in working condition according to him :
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A number of buses were still in the Transitlink JB livery, most of them appear to be in bad shape :
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All the passengers were left wondering what to do. After more discussion between some passengers and the City Bus people, a bus appeared from behind the depot. Looks like there was a solution to the problem but the replacement driver doesn’t know the way to Kluang. Finally one passenger volunteered to be the guide and off we go.

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Memories of KTM

July 5, 2011

30th June marks the end of an era for Tanjong Pagar railway station. The KTM trains will terminate at Woodlands from 1st July. On the last day of operation, hoards of people turn up to bid farewell and take photos of the place.
My first glimpse of the Tanjong Pagar railway station was during one of the trip to the Jurong Bird Park. I was on a STC 30/30A bus passing by Keppel Road. It was also the first time I saw the KTM trains.

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Tanjong Pagar railway station.

My first ride on a KTM train was a trip with my classmates to Cameron Highlands. We set off from Tanjong Pagar at 7am and we were supposed to reach Tapah, a small town at the foot of Cameron Highlands at about 4pm. When the train reached Kuala Lumpur, all the passengers were told to alight. All the train service to further north of Kuala Lumpur was suspended. No reason was given, and also no refund and advice for passengers heading further north. My classmates went to find out from some kind passerbys on how to get to Cameron Highland. We were told to grab a cab and go to Pudu Raya bus station and hop on to any express buses going to Cameron Highland. Alternatively, take an out station taxi. We decided to get a taxi instead. The North South Highway was not built yet and we have to travel along a two way narrow winding road. Along the way, it began to rain and to our horror, only one of the windshield wiper was working! The driver sped along the narrow winding road and we were praying that the cab won’t end up in the ditch or ravine. We did eventually reached Cameron Highland safe and sound. The way home was uneventful. We took the train from Tapah all the way to Tanjong Pagar.
After the trip to Cameron Highlands, we decided that KTM train will not be our choice of long distance travel to Malaysia. However, I did took the KTM trains several more times. Most of the later trips were to nearby Johore towns of Segamat and Kluang for hiking.

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KTM train crossing level junction

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