Archive for May, 2014

Unusual Mercedes Benz buses

May 28, 2014

The three pointed star was once upon a time a favorite of both public and private bus operators. Mercedes Benz buses has now lost favour with private bus companies as they switched to the cheap China made buses. The common Mercedes buses used by the private companies started with the O309s and LP1113s. Gradually other models OF1315, OF1318, OF1413, OH1318, OH1421 and OH1625 became common sights on the streets. Here are some unusual one of a kind models which were also introduced here but never gain acceptance from operators.

OF8000
Chassis : Mercedes Benz Indonesia
Registration number : PA4207A
Year : 2003
Owner : AZ Bus
VIN : MHL6844821J000036
Engine OM904LA, 4249cc, 4 cylinder in-line, 152hp
Leaf spring suspension and manual gear box
Max laden weight : 8900Kg
 photo OF8000_zps36d51689.jpg

OH1632
Chassis : Mercedes Benz Brazil
Registration number : PA7070G
Year : 2006
Owner : Private owned
VIN : 9BM6340014B412339
Engine OM929LA, 7200cc, 6 cylinder, 320hp
Air suspension and manual gear box
Max laden weight : 16000Kg
 photo OH1632_zpse26df580.jpg

OHL1829
Chassis : Mercedes Benz Germany
Registration number : PZ2828P, re-registered as PC1305J
Year : 2001
Owner : Sungee Travel
VIN : WDB3964732Z904755
Engine OM441LA, 10964cc, 6 cylinder, 300hp
Air suspension and manual gear box
Max laden weight :29000Kg
 photo OH1829_zps4d52c9f9.jpg

Relic from the past

May 21, 2014

Some of the private buses have these stickers at the back :

 photo awc_zps8e6b8529.jpg

AWC stands for Adult Worker’s Contract and ROV is the Registry of Vehicles. ROV is the predecessor of Land Transport Authority. Although the function of ROV had being taken over by LTA many years ago, the stickers still bear the letters ROV instead of LTA.
The other type of sticker which are not common nowadays is PT (Public Transport).
AWC and PT came into existence during the 1974. In order to help ease the shortage of public buses during peak hours, Ministry of Communications through ROV implemented system to utilize private and school buses to help supplement the public transport. The result was Scheme A, Scheme B buses and Scheme B lorry service. Scheme B lorry service was not popular and stopped operation after a few months. Scheme B buses continue to operate until today although it has become less popular and many of the services were withdrawn. Scheme A was very much in demand although many people did not realize that the buses hired by companies to fetch their workers every day to factories fall under this category. The word “Scheme A” was never really used, instead most people call these factory buses “company bus”, as they were chartered by the various companies.
“Company” buses or Scheme A buses picking up workers at Jurong East in the morning :

 photo JE10_zps47ad0cb0.jpg

All school buses with CB registrations must have the AWC sticker at the rear if they are involved in Scheme A. If CB buses were used for both Scheme A and B, then they have to display additional sticker PT at the rear :

 photo awcpt_zps3f7beaf1.jpg

Now private buses can be used on many more type of services such as premium bus service, Little India Express and BSEP feeder bus, why this archaic practice of sticking AWC to the back of the bus was not revoked. Furthermore with the current technology, vehicle data base are easily accessable by authorities anywhere, is there still a need for these stickers?

H. M. Naval Base buses

May 14, 2014

Most people are familiar with STC and the 11 chinese bus companies operating public bus services in the years before the April 1971 bus reorganization. There is one other bus company which most people have not heard off unless they are staying or working within the confines of the British Royal Navy (RN) naval base located at the northern end of the island. The RN naval base stretches from the west near the Causeway to the east at Sembawang. A bus service operated by Cheong Ah Kee H. M. Naval Base Bus Service serves the entire naval base area. The route starts from Rotherham Gate in the west with one terminus at Canberra Gate and the other at Sembawang Gate. Cheong Ah Kee Bus started the service in 1937. This is a ticket of the Rotherham – Canberra route showing eight fare stages between the two terminus :
 photo navaltic_zps2abc8da8.jpg
Besides the Cheong Ah Kee Bus, the other two bus companies which operated bus services in the naval base were Singapore Johore Express service from Sembawang Gate to Johore Bahru and Tay Koh Yat route 2 which ran from Sembawang 14.5 ms via Sembawang Gate to Rotherham Gate. This is a SJE Vulcan at Sembawang Gate with the destination sign Johore Bahru hanged on the radiator, the fare for the trip is only 25 cents :
 photo sjenavalbase_zps09a490e4.jpg
The SJE buses were allowed to pick up and set down passengers within the naval base, it is not an express bus service between the two terminus unlike the other more well known Rochor Road – Johore Bahru route.
When the time the British withdrew from Singapore, the naval base is no longer a restricted area. The naval base services ended around in Nov 1971 and the entire area became accessable to the public via United Bus Company’s route 160. SJE stopped operating the route and Cheong Ah Kee H. M. Naval Base Bus Service was forced to close after its application for license to operate a public bus service was not approved by ROV. At the time of its closure, the company has a fleet of 9 buses, mostly Austin FF1100s and some Bedford SBs. The company later re-emerged as the Naval Base Bus Service and took part in the introduction of Scheme B bus services in 1974. It continued to operate for quite some time up to the 1980s, after which the company closed down again for good. The buses were all working on Scheme B route 22 from Admiralty Road to Shenton Way. These were some of the buses they operated on Scheme B route 22 :
 photo naval1_zps146701e8.jpg
Top : the original Austin FF1100s which operated in the restricted area of the RN naval base.
Middle : one of them get involved in an accident and the front radiator was rebuilt to a more modern look
Bottom : one of the Austin was completely rebuilt by Soon Wing
 photo naval2_zps35d5a223.jpg
Top : Bedford SB, suspected to be ex-RN bus with front and rear end rebuilt
Midde : 2 brand new Bedford SB which replaces the Austin FF1100s
Bottom : 1 brand new Bedford VAM which replaces the last Austin

Acknowledgement : 1. National Archives Singapore 2.TheBusDude

Lost bus terminus – Rotherham Gate

May 7, 2014

United Bus Company operated a route 160 from Crawford Street to Rotherham Gate in 1971. I was very curious where Rotherham Gate is located based on the map at the last page of the bus guide :
 photo rg5_zps79026fa2.jpg
I didn’t have the chance to ride on route 162 to find out. I have been looking for clues to this place many years back but no information was available even on the internet. In recent years, however, more information became available on the internet and I was able to find the location of this gate. Rotherham Gate is one of the three major gates of the Royal Navy naval base which stretches from the west starting near the Causeway to the east at Sembawang. The gates at Sembawang are Sembawang Gate at the junction of Admiralty Road East and Sembawang Road and Canberra Gate at the junction of Canberra Road and Sembawang Road. Public entering the base need to exchange for the pass at either one of these three gates. A narrow two lane road called Naval Base Road (now Admiralty Road East and West) runs through the base from the east to the west linking Sembawang Gate to Rotherham Gate.
A map of the place :
 photo mrotherham_zpsbfb32a7e.jpg
This is the location of Rotherham Gate view from the Causeway side towards Woodlands Waterfront:
 photo rg1_zps6bae5959.jpg
The tree and the cross mark the stone gate pillars.
This is the view from the other end, the road leads to a metal gate at the far end which is locked. Previously the road leads straight to the Causeway :
 photo rg2_zps19ce3be5.jpg
One of the gate stone pillar still exists but overgrown and covered by the tree. This is a close shot of the “tree pillar”, the stone pillar can still be seen among the tree trunk :
 photo rg3_zpsd49390f5.jpg
The bus terminus is just inside the gate near the location of the yellow/black barrier :
 photo rg4_zps2e43cc7a.jpg