Archive for August, 2012

Bicycles

August 29, 2012

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Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my…..

Bicycle Race sung by Queen, 1978.

My dad used to own a Raleigh bicycle, a product of England. He paid a princely sum to purchase it. Back then, bicycles were not for “recreational purposes”. They are used for “economic” reasons. People use bicycles to go to work. Bus services were bad. A bus trip to work can take a great deal of effort. First, commuters will have to wait for a long time in between bus arrivals, sometimes the bus may not even arrive! When the bus does arrive, it was usually filled to the brim, with passengers hanging on to their dear life at the door. The alternative is to take pirate taxis a.k.a. “ba ong chia”, which were privately owned cars used as illegal taxis. Fares are off course much more than those of buses but cheaper than licenced taxis. The only choice for most people is to use bicycles.
Bicycle owners were required to register their bicycles with the authorities and each bicycle were given a registration number plate, a red metal disc about 10cm in diameter, with a number in white. The number plate had to be fixed at the rear. In addition, all bicycles must have a red reflector at the back and a working light at the front. Cyclists are required and expected to follow the traffic rules. My dad was once stopped by a policeman and was given a ticket for traffic violation all because he does not have a working light at the front of his bicycle. His bicycle has a light at the front and a dynamo. This is a dynamo, a bottle shape gadget which generates electric when the cyclist pedal :

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We stayed in a five storey SIT flat. My dad used to park his bicycle downstairs as he is too lazy to carry the bicycle up to the 3rd storey where we stayed. The building does not have a lift. As a result, his dynamo and lights kept getting stolen. In the end, he gave up and bought a small battery operated torch and clip it to the bicycle everytime he go to work. After my dad retired, his Raleigh bicycle was left abandoned and eventually disposed off by the HDB cleaners. It’s a pity I did not thought of removing the licence plate and keeping it as souvenir.

Nowadays, bicycle are cheap, anybody can own a bicycle and authorities no longer require owners to register their bicycles but laws governing its use still applies. This is where the problems started. The public thought that there are no rules when cycling on the roads. This let to several spats and arguments between cyclists and motorists, each accusing the other of ignoring safety and traffic rules. Ask any cyclists on the roads about traffic rules governing the use of bicycles on the roads, chances are that 99.999% of them know nothing. Whose fault is it? The cyclists? The authorities?

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Comfort Sherpa

August 22, 2012

The first fleet of NTUC Comfort co-operatives are Ford Transit and Morris/BMC JU minibuses. When the life span of those buses were up, the co-operatives opted to replace them with another British product, the Sherpa :
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The Sherpa imported into Singapore are all batched as Freight-Rovers. They were the 1984 version with square headlights :
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The Sherpa was originally derived from the 1960s Morris/BMC J-series van. Morris/BMC was taken over by British Leyland and British Leyland in turn created the Freight-Rover division as part of the Rover Group in 1981. The product was then branded as Freight-Rover Sherpa.
After the Sherpas, Comfort turned to Japanese products, the Nissan Urvans and Toyota Hiace as their choice of minibuses.

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Hippo at Jurong East

August 15, 2012

Spotted these posters at Jurong East bus stops last Saturday 11 August :
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Jurong East celebrated National Day and had their carnival at Jurong Spring Community Club. Two SBS Transit Citaro and one Hippo open top double decker were chartered to fetch the residents to the community club. The bus services were free, a good chance for the residents to ride the open top double deckers around the housing estate.
SBS6033S on service A:
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SBS6034P on service B:
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The Hippo is PC1024U :
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The CNG project

August 8, 2012

The CNG project was launched in 2002 by SBS Transit, Sembcorp Gas and Ministry of Environment to introduce CNG buses in Singapore. The original plan was for SBS Transit to purchase a fleet of 30 CNG buses and compressed natural gas will be supplied by Sembcorp. Eventually only 12 were acquired by SBS Transit. The first two CNG Volvo B10BLE were used on Jurong Island service 712 :
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The rest of the 10 buses did not enter service until 2006. These CNG buses will probably be the first and the last CNG buses to be used for public transportation.

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tinkle, tinkle, tinkle…

August 1, 2012

No, it is not Christmas, not yet. This is the sound of the coins in my pockets when I walked around back in the days before farecards were introduced. When SBS convert all the services to one-man operation, commuters have to carry lots of coins in their pocket. Coins were in much great demand as the bus drivers would not give any changes.
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The early days of OMO was tough, I often use notes to buy things and keep all the change in coins I can get because that is the only way to get enough coins for bus fares. It does not help that the earlier coins introduced in 1967 were bigger and heavier than the current ones (introduced in 1985). Here is a comparison of the sizes :
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After getting several complaints from the public, coin changing machines were placed at bus interchanges :
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The machines accept only one or five dollar notes. I would normally take along a plastic bag to contain all the coins. I would need about $35 worth of coins per month just to take the bus to work and back, excluding those I need for weekend use.

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