Archive for May, 2013

Cedric taxi

May 29, 2013

Japanese made taxis were once common on the roads. The main models used to be the Nissan Cedric and Toyota Crown. By early 2013, all the Nissan Cedrics will be withdrawn from service.
The first Cedric taxi appeared on the roads in the 1960s. They were few in numbers compared to the British made Austin and Morris. All the Cedrics were operated by Yellow Top and can easily be distinguished from all other taxis by its twin round headlights. The Cedric Special 6 was manufactured from 1963 to 1965. It was marketed in Singapore as the Datsun 2000 :
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The next generation of Cedrics were also introduced by Yellow Top taxis. They were third generation 230 produced in 1971 :
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After the 230 model, came the fourth generation 330 produced from 1976 to 1979. The styling is more curvy than the predecessor. Some people called it the American Coke bottle profile :
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The replacement for the 230 series were the fifth generation 430 models. This model is produced from 1979 to 1983. Styling was achieved with the cooperation of Pininfarina, providing a cleaner, more straight image than the previous generation :
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The next generation is the sixth generation Y30 (or 300C) produced from 1984 to 1987. It looked like 430. It can be differentiated from the 430 by the rectangular headlights. The 430 had twin round headlights. The radiator grille and tail light styling are also different :
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Seventh generation Y31 were the last Cedrics used as taxis :
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After all the Cedrics were withdrawn, the next to go were the Toyota Crowns. Taking over their places were various other Japanese models : Axio, Fielder, Airwave, Wish,…etc

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Morris/Austin/BMC JU250

May 22, 2013

The Morris/Austin JU250 was a forward control light van, with the driver’s cab on top of the engine. It was introduced to the UK market by the commercial vehicle division of the British Motor Corporation (BMC) in October 1967. A large number of them were imported into Singapore and were used as vans and minbuses. The first fleet of minibuses purchased by NTUC for use as school buses were Austin JU250s. The SAF and various government departments also operate a number of these vehicles as minibuses.
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The Austin JU250 was a redesigned version of the earlier Morris J2 van, with an updated front-end styling and a wider track. One unique feature of this vehicle is speedometer. Unlike all other vehicles, where the speedometers are circular dials, the JU250 speedometer is in the form of a strip :
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The red strip will move to the right when the vehicle gained speed.
I had the opportunity to ride on one of these while serving in the army. It was a memorable trip. I was on weekend duty and MINDEF requested some documents from my unit HQ. The duty officer called me up and asked me to deliver the documents. He told me that he did not have a duty driver and so he got one driver from the guardroom lockup! The guy head was shaved bald. Reason is that he was charged a couple a days ago for insubordination. Unbelievable! I am speechless! What happened if he drive out of camp and half way decided to abandon the vehicle and run away? The duty officer tried to allay my fears and said that it was the last day of detention for him and it is unlikely that he will run away. Some comfort indeed. I cannot disobey the duty officer’s instruction lest I too join the driver in detention for disobeying an officer’s instructions. I have no choice but to take him and go to MINDEF. On the way I reminded that it is his last day in detention, and that the day was a bonus for him. I asked him to drive slowly, it was a chance to get out of the four walls of his detention cell and get some fresh air, I expect no funny ideas from him. It all went well and at the end of the trip, I have to escort him back to his detention cell.

Acknowledgement : Old bus photo from National Archives Singapore

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Memories of bus rides – bells and conductors

May 15, 2013

Bus conductors in the bygone days are a special breed. They are able to balance themselves on a moving bus and punch little holes on a small square denoting the fare stage on a bus ticket. They are also able to squeeze back and forth in a crowded bus, collect money, make mental calculation and give back the correct change to the passengers. There are also those who can hang on with one hand at the door on a crowded moving bus.
Bus conductor at work (bus is a Mercedes OF1413 with Supreme Star body):
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Such scenes are very common :
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Once I was sitting at the rear end of a crowded bus. When I reached my destination, I and a few of other passengers wanted to alight. The bus conductor back was facing us and he was busy doing his work. One passenger in front of me pressed the bell. Immediately the bus conductor turned around and glared at us and demanded in a very fierce manner who pressed the bell. All of us just ignored him and get off when the bus stopped. Somehow, that particular bus conductor felt that he was not only a special breed, he was the only one who was given some kind of divine rights that only he can touch that forbidden thing called the “bell”. Mortal souls called “passengers” are not allowed to touch it. Hell had no fury like a bus conductor whose divine rights were violated.
Here are some of the bell designs :
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1. Used on buses in the old days, usually mounted on the wall above the window. Make its reappearance in the ’80s on the exit center grap pole of Leyland Atlanteans.
2. Used on buses in the ’70s to present day on some SMRT buses. Traditionally mounted on the roof. When SBS went one man operation, a short strip was mounted at the exit door pillar.
3. Used only on the Leyland Olympians, mounted on the window pillar. Orange part light up when bell is pressed.
4. Mounted on window pillars, used on Japanese buses.
5. Mounted on window pillars, purple part light up when bell is pressed.
6. Current type, mounted on window pillars. The longer ones are mounted on vertical grap poles.

Acknowledgement : Photos from Nation Archives Singapore

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Old bus terminus – Serangoon Garden

May 8, 2013

The bus terminus at Serangoon Garden was originally located on the traffic circus itself. The buses were parked packed two to three deep on the short stretch of the circus road between Serangoon Garden Way and Farleigh Avenue :
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Another view of the section of the traffic circus :
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This is a view of the terminus in the late 1950s :
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The bus services which used to terminate here were STC 18A, 18B, Tay Koh Yat 9A and Paya Lebar Bus 3.
After the 1971 bus re-organisation, the number of bus services terminating here increased drastically : ABS 72, 103, 103A and STC 100, 100A, 101, 101A, 102, 102A.
As a result, a proper terminus was built on the vacant land behind the road side terminus, with proper parking bays for buses.
Map below indicates the original road side terminus (blue) and the proper terminus (red) :
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The terminus was closed after the new Serangoon bus interchange went into operation. Part of the former bus parking bays were converted to a car park :
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The other part of the bus parking bay became the current bus stop.

Acknowledgement : Old bus terminus photo from National Archives Singapore

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Volvo B57

May 1, 2013

SBS started trial on a Volvo B57 bus in 1979. The bus was built by Soon Chow using kits from Metsec. The following year, SBS placed an order of the buses and New Zealand Motor Bodies (NZMB) bus body kit was selected. The final number of Volvo B57 bought by SBS was 350. They were placed into service from 1980 to 1984. NZ Motor Bodies was established as Munt, Cotterell, Neilsen and Company Ltd in 1926. The name was changed to NZ Motor Bodies in 1937. The business was situated in Petone until 1978 when operations shifted to a brand new 18,000 square metres workshop in Palmerston North. The company merged with Hawke Coachworks in 1993 to form Coach Work International Limited (CWI).

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The first Volvo B57 posing for a photo after being assembled in NZMB’s factory at Palmerston North. The rest of the buses were assembled in Singapore at the former STC MacKenzie Road bus depot.

The Volvo B57 is powered by a 6700cc Volvo TD70 engine mounted vertically at the front. All of them were equipped with Allison MT automatic gearboxes. The front half of the bus is the standee area with single seats on both sides. The rear half were fitted with double seats. The seats over the wheel arch faces backwards.
When these buses were withdrawn from service, 320 of them found new life as school buses in Ireland, ferrying an average of about 165000 school kids a day. All of them had the exit door sealed up and additional seats were fitted, making them 55 seaters.

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