Archive for March, 2014

Mobile lounges

March 26, 2014

One of the most odd looking form of transport I have taken were these mobile lounges :
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Washington’s Dulles International Airport is one of the few remaining airports to use the mobile lounge.
Airports have several ways of moving hundreds of passengers disembarking from a plane to the terminal building. In the early days, buses and trailer buses were used. This is a trailer bus pulled by a Ford Trader tractor unit at the old Paya lebar Airport, very effective in moving large number of passengers :
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Nowadays most airports use aero bridges which link the terminal building directly to the airplane. Some of them uses specially built buses to do the job for planes which parked away from the terminal building :
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The mobile lounge used in Dulles Airport is a 54 feet carriage capable of carrying 102 passengers. The vehicle can raise themselves on screws to mate directly with the airplane. This allowed the passengers to deplane and walked directly into the vehicle to be transferred to the terminal building. The two fin like towers on the roof house the screws when the carriage was lowered. Currently these vehicles were no longer used to deplane passengers but for inter terminal transfer.
When the vehicle is lowered and travelling :
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When the vehicle is raised and the canopy extended :
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At the front end of the vehicle is the driver’s cabin togather with the accordion like canopy that could be docked onto the airplane’s door or terminal building :
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Seating arrangement inside the mobile lounge :
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There are four rows of seats, 2 rows back to back at the centre facing the windows and 1 row each on both side facing the centre.
View of mobile lounges docking at the terminal building :
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Acknowledgement : 1. Wikimedia Commons 2. Flightglobal

Memories of bus rides – lorry bus

March 19, 2014

Besides STC trolley buses, one of my very early memories of bus rides was taking a ride with my parents on lorry buses such as these :

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I was very young back then and I could not recall what type of bus it was. I remembered that the bus had a bonnet and the door was at the back of the bus :

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The design of the door looks like the old London double deckers. The bus was very small and the seats were all aisle facing. The chassis was a lorry and so not much expectation from the quality of the ride. It was very common for bus companies to mount a bus body on lorries after the second world war as bus chassis were in short supply and there were lots of allied army lorries been demobilized and sold on the market at a very cheap price. By the mid 1960s, all these lorry type buses were replaced by proper buses.

Acknowledgement : Old bus photo from National Archives Singapore

Old bus terminus – Chai Chee

March 12, 2014

The Chai Chee bus terminus was built at around 1974. Before this terminus was built, there were several roadside bus terminus scattered around the area : Opera Estate 20, 21, 22, Telok Kurau Road 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 152, Changi Road/Siglap Road 30/30A, 31, 31A, 32, 33, Joo Chiat Place 41A. All these road side terminus were closed and moved to Chai Chee. This the map of the area :
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This is the terminus in 1980s :
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The terminus is located were this block of flat and shop houses now stands :
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The boarding area is located at the place where the 32A staircase now stands. On the left is the bus parking area :
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Chai Chee terminus was closed when the Bedok terminus located nearby started operation.

Bus re-organisation Part 5 : The first day

March 5, 2014

The buses which ply around my home are Katong Bedok Bus Service route 3 and 4, Singapore Traction Company route 16B and 21. Katong Bedok 3 and 4 uses a wide mix of bus models : Mercedes LP321/322, LP1013, LP1113, Vulcan 6PF, Albion Victor. STC 16B uses an all Albion Victor fleet and STC 21 uses a mix of Nissan RX102K3 and 4R94. Katong Bedok route 3 serves East Coast and Bedok area. Route 4 operate only a few trips during school pm peak hour, mainly for students. To go to town, it the only services available were STC 16B and 21. Frequencies were bad, often crowded and many times, commuters have to wait for a few bus to pass by before they can get on board.

When the reorganisation was announced in the press, my brother went out to get a copy of the new bus guide :

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A check on the bus guide showed that there will be more bus services available :
Amalgamated Bus Company : 32, 41A
Associated Bus Service : 45
Singapore Traction Company : 30, 40, 43
As a bus fan, I was eager to know what kind of bus models will be used on these routes. I was hoping that there will be newer buses deployed on these routes.
The next morning, I eagerly look out of my house verandah to see what kind of buses will be used by the new companies :
ABC 41A – mix of Vulcan, Morris, Albion Victor
STC 30, 40, 43, and ABS 45 – all Albion Victors
Only ABC 32 used the new Mercedes LP1113s.
ABS 45 and ABC 41A was a letdown, all used very old buses.
The greatest disappointment was STC. I was hoping that at least one of the three services use Isuzus or Nissans, which at that time, were the best buses. I also wouldn’t mind the Guy Arab Mk IVs either, they have powerful engines and unique half cabs.

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Old STC Albion Victors which where assigned to all the STC routes serving my area.

Some of these bus model deployment were however temporarily arrangements. By end of 1971, as more new buses were registered, the bus scene changes. Buses of STC 30 was replaced by Isuzus, brand new Albion Vikings and Leyland Comets replaced all the old buses of ABC 41A and new Bedford SBs replaced the old Albion Victors of ABS 45.
All over the island, many people were caught off guard, unaware of the change despite efforts by the authorities to publicise the event thorugh TV and newspapers. Many people did not bother to buy a copy of the bus guide and were unsure of which bus to take. Large crowds were seen at bus stops during peak hours. The authorities send out the army personnels (part of national service, they claim) stationed at major bus stops to help commuters. It took a few weeks for the situation to return to normal.