Archive for May, 2012

SIA Hop On

May 30, 2012

SH Tours operates a hop on hop off service on behalf of Singapore Airlines. Selected Singapore Airline passengers can use the service free of charge. Other passengers must purchase a one day pass. Five trolley style buses built by Soon Chow were used.
PZ8C, PZ68D PZ98S, PA8127X are Fuso RM118Ns with the exit door located just after the front wheel. PZ819D is the only Fuso RK125L, the exit door is located at the rear.
Besides the five trolley buses, two other normal coaches in SIA Hop On liveries were also used at one time.
All the five original trolley buses were scrapped. PZ819D at a local scrap yard :
The replacements were Isuzu LT134Ps built by SC Auto : PZ8C, PZ68D, PZ98S, PA8022P

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May 23, 2012

The two pandas Jia Jia and Kai Kai are scheduled to arrive at Singapore Zoo in December, much later than the original plan.
When China gave two pandas to Taipei zoo, the city bus operator Zhinan Bus which operates route 282 to the zoo, helped to publicise the animals by having the bus electronic display to show a cute panda :
China is going to give two pandas to Singapore zoo, will the local bus company do the same come December?
Here is a edited picture of a Mercedes Citaro bus with a panda displayed :

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The rise and fall of Japanese buses – public buses

May 16, 2012

The first Japanese public buses was introduced by STC beginning in 1962. They were Isuzu city buses shipped from Japan in completely built up (CBU) form. These were followed by two Fuso demonstrators. The last batch was Nissans delivered from 1967 through to 1969. A total of four hundred was used by STC during that period. None of the ‘chinese” bus companies used Japanese buses. The Nissans and one Fuso survived right up to the formation of SBS, the rest were scrapped.
After the Nissans retired, SBS did not purchase any more buses from Japan. The Japanese bus manufacturers sent a number of demonstrators to SBS for trial, hoping that the company is impressed enough to secure an order. Among the demonstrators were a Hino AK176, an Isuzu BD and a Nissan UA20 in around 1979. None of the demonstrators were accepted. Nissan refused to give up, sent another U21SXN to SBS. This time, Nissan managed to secure a small order of twenty U31SCN from SBS in 1986.
The break for Japanese manufacturers in the public bus market came in the form of a Soon Chow bodied Hino BX341E demonstrator for Singapore Shuttle Bus :

Newspaper advertisement from Hino showing the first Hino BX341E public bus for SSB

After trying out the demonstrator, SSB placed an order for fifty units of Hino BX341E shipped from Japan in completely built up form. The Japanese builder is Teikuko. More CBU Japanese buses were ordered by SSB for their fleet renewal. Eventually SSB operated a fleet made up completely of Japanese Hino and Nissan CBU buses. When Trans Island Bus Service was formed, the initial fleet was made up completely of Japanese CBU buses, also from Hino and Nissan. After the retirement of the initial batch of buses, TIBS switched to European buses. Hino did however manage to secure an order of twelve buses from TIBS. This last batch of Hinos was bodied in Malaysia using Australian Volgren kits. With the retirement of the Nissans in SMRT fleet, these twelve Hinos were the last Japanese public buses still in operation.

A TIBS Nissan U31RCN on route 167 before the company was bought over by SMRT

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The rise and fall of Japanese buses – school & private buses

May 9, 2012

When Singapore was a colony of Britain, preference was given to buses imported from UK. Various British makes were imported into Singapore. By the 1970s, British built Albions and Ford dominates the public bus scene while most school and private bus companies go for Bedfords. By the end of 1970s, Mercedes Benz entered the market and capture a sizable share. By the 1980s, Albion/Leyland and Mercedes Benz buses were the main work horses of SBS.
In the private bus scene, Bedford and Mercedes were the two main players. General Motors, the parent company of Bedford sold off Bedford to AWD. AWD closed down not long after in 1990. The private bus companies were faced with only one choice : Mercedes Benz. One enterprising dealer imported a number of retired transit buses from Japan and started to sell them to the bus operators. Majority of these second hand Japanese buses were Hino REs, bodied by Teikuko, mostly originating either from Keihan or Donan Bus :
These Hino REs originally built with typical Japanese sliding type rear door. The dealer replaced all the rear doors with locally built two leaf jack knife type before selling to the local bus operators. A few ex-Seibu Bus were also sold, all of which went into service still in the Seibu livery.
The market for second hand Japanese transit buses looks promising but the government applied the brakes by banning the sale of second hand imports. The dealers of Japanese vehicles seized the opportunity and offered buses built on truck based chassis. Mitsubishi Fuso was among the first. This was one of the early Fuso model FK-series :
From 1990 onwards, Japanese brands and Mercedes Benz became the two main suppliers of buses to private and school bus operators.
In October 2006, the government introduced Euro IV emission requirements, all the Japanese models were not able to meet the requirement and abandon the bus market. The exception is Isuzu, which continues to sell the LT and LV models meeting Euro IV standards. Overnight, the market share of Japanese brands disappeared, in its place, the Chinese made buses took over.

Acknowledgement : wikipedia commons

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Private buses/coaches 2005 – 2011

May 2, 2012

It is the time of the year to take a look at the private buses/coaches in the year 2005 to 2011.
The total number of private buses used in the percentage calculation in the below chart is 1415 units.
China buses include Kinglong, Higer, Golden Dragon, Zonda, Yutong, Zhongtong, Sunlong, Foton
Japan include Hino, Isuzu, Fuso, Nissan
Sweden include Volvo, Scania
Germany include Mercedes Benz, MAN
Others : only Daewoo
Small buses are excluded : Rosa, Coaster, Hiace, 515CD, Urvan, etc…
The above data are based on my daily observations, they are not taken from any official sources.
Same as for last year, Chinese made buses dominates the market for private bus and coach market. Prices for Chinese made buses are very competitive. They are shipped to Singapore in completely built up units, there is no lead time for bodying the chassis, easy for any operator to buy one on the spot and put into service.
Percentage market share of buses from Sweden and Germany maintain at more or less the same level as previous years.
Japanese buses drops even further compared to 2011. For the first time, Scania sold more buses than Isuzu.
Scania and MAN dominates for the European makes. Mercedes Benz is still absent from the private bus/coach market. Nissan has dropped out of the bus and coach market completely. The only Japanese marque available is Isuzu.

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