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Volvo double deck gets electronic display June 19, 2009

Posted by hafizbam in SBS Transit, Something New.
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SBS9618K with its new electronic display for service 168 at Woodlands Regional Interchange. Behind it is an unusual appearance of a Volvo B10TL Super Olympian SBS9888Y on service 161. Photo courtesy of Jack Aw Yong.

SBS9618K with its new electronic display for service 168 at Woodlands Regional Interchange. Behind it is an unusual appearance of a Volvo B10TL Super Olympian SBS9888Y on service 161. Photo courtesy of Jack Aw Yong.

SBS Transit finally runs a bus with an electronic number and destination display into Woodlands town – and it’s not a Scania nor a Trident.

In an unexpected move, the company fitted an electronic display system into one of its ageing Volvo Olympian double decker buses, which makes up the bulk of its double decker fleet. SBS9618K has been chosen to be the demonstrator unit and it is currently deployed on service 168 running between Bedok and Woodlands via Tampines. The manufacturer of the electronic display is japanese firm Lecip Corp, which I understand was one of the (unsuccessful) bidders to supply electronic displays for the Scania K230UB wheelchair-accessible buses.

As it turns out, the display is at best, disappointing. While it is bright, the numbers on the right appear a blob of orange when seen from far. The display at the nearside of the bus next to the entrance door is similar to the new Scanias’ – the via points keep scrolling. A rear number display is also fitted. Clearly its small size shows that the display is meant to be fitted onto a single deck bus, rather than a double deck which, as had been done with other units around the world, should be fitted with a much larger version allowing passengers to see the number from afar, nevermind if they cannot see the destination.

The effort to install electronic displays into more buses is one that is appreciated and should be encouraged. However, the bus companies have to ensure that their efforts do not go to waste; that their new displays not only overcome the shortfalls of using traditional blinds or plastic/metal plates, but can also benefit the commuting public. Bearing in mind that the local population is going to see an increasing proportion of the elderly, small number displays are definitely not the right way forward.

Perhaps this is precisely the reason why Transport for London still makes it mandatory for buses in the city to still be using blinds instead of opting for electronic displays despite all their flexibility and advancements since the flip-dot matrix technology.

Regardless, it is rather questionable for SBS Transit to install the electronic displays onto the older batch of Volvo Olympians instead of its newest Volvo B9TLs, unless of course they are thinking of selling off the Olympians at a higher value instead of sending them out for scrap. Then again, it is best for these Lecip displays to go off the roads sooner rather than later, especially if more buses are slated to go through the same fate as SBS9618K.

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