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SMRT brings in Southeast Asia’s first Mercedes Benz Citaro! November 6, 2009

Posted by hafizbam in Bus, Fleet News, SMRT, Something New, Transport Events.
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Singapore's first Mercedes Benz Citaro.

A sneak peek at Southeast Asia's first Mercedes Benz Citaro. Photo courtesy of Ho Kok Pern.

Singapore’s bus enthusiasts got all excited this week after learning that the country’s second biggest public bus operator – SMRT Buses – has brought in what everyone has been wishing for: the award-winning Mercedes Benz Citaro citybus!

The Mercedes-Benz Citaro (or O530) is the current Mercedes-Benz/EvoBus mainstream bus intended for public transport, introduced in 1997 and replaced the Mercedes-Benz O405/O405N series. Manufactured in Mannheim (Germany), Ligny-en-Barrois (France) and Sámano (Spain), it features a low floor for easy access.

There is currently one unit resting within the Cycle & Carriage compounds in Teban Gardens. Word has it that it has been imported wholesale from Germany and is awaiting modifications to meet local specifications before hitting the roads. While there are no SMRT logos on the bus, one will definitely not go wrong guessing which company it belongs to from the common red, black and white livery already applied on its body.

Daimler’s press release confirmed SMRT’s order for 66 units of the bus, which features the BlueTec diesel technology already widely used in Europe.

BlueTec in Asia

Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) is the first company in Southeast Asia to put Mercedes-Benz urban buses with BlueTec 5 into operation in short-distance public transport. This means that the BlueTec diesel technology so successfully introduced by Daimler in Europe now also has a presence in Asia. And with an order for 66 Mercedes-Benz Citaro BlueTec urban buses that meet the stringent Euro 5 exhaust standard, the SMRT Corporation in Singapore is setting new benchmarks in Southeast Asia.

This is the third wheelchair-accessible bus model to be brought in by SMRT in the last two years. The first came in the form of Mercedes Benz OC500LEs in Gemilang bodywork, with the second being Singapore’s first Chinese public citybus – a Yutong ZK6126.

Further details with regards to this bus will be posted on this website as and when updates stream in.

You may read more about this bus here.

Welcome onboard SMRT bus… or is it SBS Transit? June 21, 2009

Posted by hafizbam in SMRT, Something New.
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One of the many SMRT buses to have received purple and pink vinyl cushion seats. The pink seats are supposedly reserved for those with greater need. Photo courtesy of Varun Naidu.

One of the many SMRT buses to have received purple and pink vinyl cushion seats. The pink seats are supposedly reserved for those with greater need. Photo courtesy of Varun Naidu.

SMRT’s recent refurbishment exercise for its older Hispano-bodied Mercedes Benz 0405 buses, which makes up at least half its bus fleet, may have left some passengers wondering whether their bus service had been taken over by rival SBS Transit.

The green fabric seats which have become synonymous with TIBS SMRT buses, are quickly being replaced with thicker purple and pink-coloured vinyl cushions. Yes, nowhere near the corporate colours of SMRT of red and black. But very close to that of SBS Transit’s purple and orange.

To add to the confusion, some buses which have been refurbished earlier on in the year had their fabric seats replaced with similar vinyl cushions – only green in colour – like those on the Volgren-bodied Mercedes Benz 0405 buses.

So far, all but one bus to have undergone the purple treatment are based at Woodlands Depot, with the odd one out from Ang Mo Kio Depot.

And all this is in addition to the existing black seats on the Hispano Habit and Volgren bendies; green seats on other bendies, some Dennis Lances, DAFs, Scanias and Hinos; as well as black and red seats for their latest wheelchair accessible 0C500LEs.

The interior of our buses may become more colourful and the choice of seat colours may be questionable. But whatever the motive behind these choices may be, the new seats are definitely more comfortable to sit on! (Great for those long journeys that tend to cause back and butt pains!)

A perfect product from SMRT: the new Mercedes Benz OC500LE November 16, 2008

Posted by hafizbam in Deployment Updates, Something New.
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The first in its batch - SMB1H on route 190 at Clarke Quay

The first in its batch - SMB1H on route 190 at Clarke Quay

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.