Archive for January, 2015

The 4S service

January 28, 2015

The 4S service, which stands for supplementary school service scheme was announced to the press in December1978 by SBS. The initial plan was to operate a pilot service at Tanjong Katong area from 6 to 7pm to guage the response. The area was chosen because of a large concentration of schools and it will be extended to other areas with similar high concentration of schools.
The service basically run along major school corridors to pick up students after school so as to allow students a better chance to reach home earlier, students will not need to rush with other regular commuters going home in the evening.
The service started in January 1979 when the new school term began. Instead of a trial, SBS decided to go ahead and introduce 7 services :16S, 41S, 100S, 135S, 156S, 172S, 180S
The company will use a total number of 10 buses and the fare will be a flat rate of 20 cents.
A Mercedes OF1413 bus on 156S (route number photoshopped) :
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In theory, it was a good scheme. The bus should reach the bus stop just immediately after the school dismissed the students so that the bus will be packed only with students. In practice, it was a hit and miss affair. Sometimes the bus arrives too late due to traffic congestion, all the students would have taken the regular buses. The 4S buses are not allowed to pick up adults resulting in an empty bus completing the trip.

Golden Arrow

January 21, 2015

In 20 Nov 1978, SBS operating the Blue Arrow services requested Singapore Airport Bus Services to join in the scheme as a trial. SABS operates a fleet of Mercedes aircon coaches and 3 of them will be deployed on Blue Arrow 301 route operating from Katong to Shenton Way. These buses were known as Golden Arrow 301 service and charges a flat fare of $1.
It will operate 5 trips in the morning from Monday to Saturday one way. There will be no evening service as SABS’s coaches were needed for the airport services.
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The response from the public was poor. The main complaint is the fare of $1 is too high compared to the Blue Arrow’s non aircon fare of 40 cents. The service was eventually terminated on 24 Jan 1981.
That was not the end of Golden Arrow. Another attempt was made to introduce Golden Arrow 308 plying the same route as Blue Arrow 308. There were only 3 trips in the morning. This service too was withdrawn due to poor ridership. The public had not accepted aircon bus services which came with much higher fares. Airon buses reappere many years later when SBS introduced aircon service on route 168, it was a success, paving way for eventual air conditioning of their entire fleet of buses. The main reason was the fare of the route 168 aircon buses was only slightly higher than normal fares unlike the Golden Arrow services, something which the public was willing to pay.

Blue Arrow

January 14, 2015

Blue arrow services were the first attempt by SBS to provide semi express service during peak hours. The scheme was modeled after London’s Red Arrow services. The Red Arrow services are peak hour semi express services designed to move maximum number of passengers per bus to the city area. It utilized dual door single deck AEC Merlins with minimum seats to pack in more standing passengers.
Unlike the Red Arrow services, the Blue Arrow services were designed to provide a fast, economical and reliable service from private residential areas to the Central Business District.
The services also aim to encourage car owners to take public transport in order to reduce congestions in the CDB.
30 buses will operate limited stops within the private residential areas and then running express to the CDB area. Mercedes OF1113s with short body length of 9m were chosen so that the buses will be able to maneuver in the narrow streets of the private residential estates :
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Six services went into service on 28 July 1975. They are one man operated and cost 50 cents per trip. All the services will terminate at Shenton Way. Frequency is 15mins.

301 : Meyer Road next to Katong Seaview Hotel
302 : Bedok Garden, Lucky Hills
303 : Tai Kheng Gardens, Sennett Estate
304 : Serangoon Gardens, Lorong Chuan
305 : Mayflower Gardens, Sembawang Hill Estate
306 : Eng Kong Park, Dunearn Road
Time of operation :
Mon – Fri : 7 to 9am, 4.30 to7pm
Sat : 7 to 9am, 12 to 2.30pm
Two more services were added in 1976 :
307 : Chai Chee
308 : Ang Mo Kio

Some of the more popular services were converted to normal service :
304 became 107 in Jan 1978
307 became 7 in Mar 1979
308 became 138 in July 1978
The rest of the services were withdrawn due to poor ridership.

The current similar version of the Blue Arrow services are the Fast Forward, City Direct and Premium services.

Mercedes Benz LP300 series

January 7, 2015

The first Mercedes buses used by local stage bus companies were the LP3xx series. Katong Bedok was the pioneer. This is a Katong Bedok Mercedes LP312 laying over at Bedok Road bus terminus :
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The Mercedes LP3xx series were originally manufactured as trucks from 1959 to 1964.
The abbreviation “LP” stands for “Lastwagen Pullman” (Pullman truck)
L = lastwagen (German for truck)
P = “Pullman”
The term “Pullman” was borrowed from American streamlined passenger trains designed by George Mortimer Pullman known as Pullman trains.
The 3 digits followed the letter LP denote the engine type. This model designation was used by Mercedes from 1954 to 1963 :
LP312 = truck chassis, OM312 engine.
After 1963, Mercedes use the more familiar LPxxxx where the first 2 digits represent the weight and the last 2 digits denotes the horsepower :
LP1113 = truck chassis, 1100kg, 130hp.
Three models of the LP3xx series were used by local bus operators :
LP312, OM312 engine, 90hp, 4.6L
LP321, OM321 engine, 110hp, 5.1L
LP322, OM322 engine, 126hp, 5.675L
Many of the LP322 survived to the formation of SBS in 1973.
Video shots taken from the old Malay comedy film Mat Tiga Suku (crazy Mat) showed a Katong Bedok Mercedes LP312 arriving at a bus stop :

This another Katong Bedok bus, a LP321. Note that this bus retained the original truck front with the 1 piece windscreen and elliptical shape radiator grill, a trend which local body builders used to build Mercedes buses up to the late 1970s :

Acknowledgement : Photo from F. W. York, History of Singapore Trams, Trolley Buses and Buses