Archive for March, 2012

Strachan

March 28, 2012

Strachan is a bus builder based in UK. The early Strachan bodied buses were built on Bedford SB chassis. A large number of them were used by British military based here as school buses to ferry their children. Many of these buses were sold to private operators when the British forces withdrew. This is an ex-military Bedford SB bodied by Strachan sold to a school bus operator :
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The early Strachan bodies were simple, plain design but they were good sturdy products.
In 1970s, Associated Bus Service bodied a batch of Albion EVK41L using the newer Strachan body. These buses were built with forward entrance and center exit layout. Almost the entire fleet of Strachan Albions were deployed on ABS route 80 and 81, a few were deployed on 155A. This is a rear view of the Strachan EVK41L :
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These newer body style were flimsy and within a shot period of time, all of them were in various stages of falling apart. After they were passed on to SBS, the entire batch was sent to Soon Chow for re-bodying.
ABS also ordered a number of Strachan body to be built on the longer Albion EVK41UL. This chassis are 12m long and the layout was changed to forward entrance and rear exit:
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By the time these buses were ready for service, ABS merged with the other bus companies to form SBS. It was SBS which introduced these Strachan Albions to the public and nicknamed them as ‘Jumbo’ buses. These long wheel based Albions also suffered the same problems as the first batch of ABS buses. They too were sent to Soon Chow for re-bodying.

Acknowledgement : Bus photos from National Archives Singapore

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The first OC500LE

March 21, 2012

The first Mercedes Benz OC500LE bus went on the road does not belong to SMRT Bus. It was a demonstrator brought in by Mercedes Benz to demonstrate to SBS Transit and SMRT Bus in 2004. The unit was built for Transperth and carries the fleet number 1854. Unlike the SMRT Bus OC500LEs, this demonstrator is powered by CNG, with the gas pod mounted on the roof. The public was given a joyride on 8 May starting from Hyatt Hotel at Scotts Road, down Orchard Road, loop around St Andrew Road and back to Scotts Road.

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TP1854 at Newtons Circus, on the way back to Hyatt Hotel.

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Perth has a large number of these buses. TP1246 photographed at Wellington Street.

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The ‘O302’ coach

March 14, 2012

The German Mercedes Benz designed O302 coach was never exported to Singapore. The original O302 coach is a rear engined integral product offered by Mercedes. The O302 coaches found in Singapore are built by local bus builder Chua Heng. It was one of the very successful product from Chua Heng. A large number of them were built on Mercedes OF1413 and some on OF1113 chassis. A number of them were also built on Albion Viking, Tata and Bedford.
An ‘O302’ coach belonging to Sinagpore Airport Bus Service which used to ply between Paya Lebar Airport and all the hotels along Orchard Road in 1978 :
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The SABS service did not met with much success, the company made loses and an attempt was made to keep it going by terminating the service at Kampong Java fringe car park instead of looping at Orchard Road hotels. In the end, the company gave up and sold all its coaches. Some of them ended up with Singapore Bus Service, Singapore Johore Express and some private tour coach operators.
The same fate met the Airbus Changi Airport and Orchard Road hotels services operated later by SBS decades later.

Acknowledgement : bus photo from National Archives Singapore

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Neoplan buses

March 6, 2012

In 1980s, Changi Airport purchased a fleet of Neoplan buses. Some of the planes does not use the airport aerobridges and were parked at a distance away from the terminal building. These buses were used to ferry passengers from the plane to the terminal building.
Neoplan built several models of apron buses, with the smallest 16 seater crew bus measuring 2.3m wide x 6.7m long to extra wide body 12.7m long buses.
The models chosen was the N940:

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Front view. Acknowledgement : Old bus photo from National Archives Singapore

I had the opportunity to ride on one of these buses. Features observed of this bus :
– low entrance without steps
– low floor from front to back
– extra wide, 3.75m width (normal city bus is about 2.5m)
– 12.7m long
– 12 seats, 100 standing passengers
– 4 doors, 2 on each side
– engine mounted in front next to the driver
– non aircon but equipped with blowers and fans

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Rear view.

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