A perfect product from SMRT: the new Mercedes Benz OC500LE November 16, 2008Posted by hafizbam in Deployment Updates, Something New.
Tags: Mercedes Benz, new bus, SMRT
It is rare for me to applaud efforts by SMRT (or the lack of it) in improving their transport services. But their latest initiative in bringing in new wheelchair-accessible public buses in the form of 66 Mercedes Benz OC500LEs fitted with a modified Gemilang bodywork (with a Citaro front) has definitely scored them a lot of points, even if the number of such new buses they are bringing in pales when compared to SBS Transit’s massive fleet replacement drive.
An obvious change for these new city buses lies in their registration plate numbers. The new “SMB” officially recognises these buses as the first to be bought by SMRT, ending the former TIB series at TIB1257C. The electronic displays have also changed to orange in colour, with the service number displayed on the right. I’ve always felt this should have been the way since TIBS days as it is easier for commuters looking out for their buses.
Like SBST’s new Scania K230UBs, there are two wheelchair spaces available between the entrance and exit doors, which doubles up as useful extra standing space most of the time. There are however, less tedious steps for passengers to climb to get to the seats behind the exit door, and surprisingly, SMRT managed to pack in more seats (though not necessarily less spacious), with a handful out of the 35 Vogelsitzes bearing black covers instead of the majority red which is a clever way of making the bus reflect the company’s corporate colours and at the same time, adds class to an already grand-looking interior bearing white panels. Even the pairs of seats above the rear wheels did not have the irritating hump found in other buses, including the K230UBs.
Aircon outlets resemble that of the Mercedes Benz 0405G Habit designer bendies which are not really helpful for passengers sitting next to the aisle. An interesting feature for the OC500LEs is the automatic playing of announcements such as “Doors Closing”, “Please move in” and the like. While the MRT-like door closing chime may be a bit irritating, the other announcements come in handy at times. After all, if it ain’t helpful, SBST surely would not want it in their own buses (rumour has it their new batches of buses will feature such announcements as well).
While I am no expert in the technicalities of the bus, overall the bus gives passengers comfortable rides that are not as jerky as the K230UBs. Riding on one on say, service 190 along the expressways feels like floating down the road with no noisy engine sounds to annoy you. Its Euro-V compliant engines make these buses the “greenest” public buses to grace Singapore’s roads today.
So far, there are only slightly more than thirty units of such buses shared between Kranji and Ang Mo Kio Depots, deployed on routes like 190, 811 and 851, though most of them are still running around on other routes as spare buses. Woodlands Depot has yet to receive its share of these new buses as yet.
In conclusion, these new Mercedes Benz buses by SMRT really scores a lot of points in many aspects of a public bus and more of such should be brought in not only to replace the older buses like the Nissan UDs but expand the fleet in the coming years ahead.