SMRT double-deck buses may be a common sight now, but they were big news when they made their debut in 2014. The article traces the history of SMRT double-decks from first news to roll out.
On 21 March 2014, SMRT first publically announced its decision to acquire double-deck buses. The Straits Times reported from a media preview of SMRT’s revamped “learning journey” on 20th March, where SMRT Buses vice-president Tan Kian Heong announced that the double-deckers will be deployed on longer routes from residential estates to the city.
The new double-deck buses are expected to be used on city-bound routes experiencing high demand, most notably Service 190. The move puts SMRT Buses on par with SBS Transit, which already operates double-deck buses islandwide.
Although the decision to acquire double-deck buses was made quite long ago, SMRT had not released information about it to the general public. It first mentioned about double-deck buses in a press release dated 07 Nov 2013 (SMRT Introduces New Bus Captain Progressive Career Scheme), where the role of a Senior Bus Captain 1 involves undergoing a high capacity bus driving course (Double-decker or Articulated bus). It hinted that SMRT was ready to train (or already training) its own drivers for double-deck bus operations in the future. First public mention of the new buses was published by The Straits Times on Feb 7 2014 in a reply to a forum letter written by Felix Kim. SMRT’s Director for Media and Marketing Communications Alina Boey wrote:
“…we have procured a new batch of double-decker buses, which will be plying the roads alongside the articulated buses in the later part of this year.”
The news article published on Friday, March 21 2014 reaffirms that statement with the confirmation of over 100 double-deck buses to be introduced.
A brief history:
SMRT’s first high-capacity bus was acquired in 1996, when Trans-Island Bus Service (TIBS) introduced the Mercedes-Benz O405G articulated bus. The trial was successful, and over 300 more units were acquired between 1997 and 2004 in various models of bodywork. Most of these buses are still operating today, the bulk of SMRT’s high-capacity bus fleet. As these buses approach their maximum 19-year service lifespan, newer buses must be introduced to replace them. The recently announced batch of new double-deck buses are expected to replace some of these older buses. The first batch of these new buses will enter service in June, and a total of over 100 double-deck buses will arrive.
With the new purchase, SMRT will be the second operator to incorporate double-deck transit buses in its fleet after SBS Transit, which had double-deck buses since the SBS era. Interestingly, SBS also operated two articulated buses (SBS998Y and 999U), both of which have been retired after failing their trials.
Press Release (02 Apr 2014):
SMRT is expected to operate both articulated and double-deck buses in the near future. Double-deck buses are good for high-capacity city routes, where passengers remain on the bus for longer distances. Articulated buses are more suited for heavily-used Feeder & Intratown routes; they offer faster boarding and alighting with three doors and without the upper deck which slows down passenger movement. In a press release on 2nd April 2014, SMRT has confirmed the delivery of over 570 buses. Orders are confirmed for 332 MAN 12-metre buses, 40 MAN articulated buses, and for the first time, a total of 201 ADL Double Deckers. This is the largest fleet renewal and growth initiative by SMRT to date, and re-affirms the company’s commitment to offering commuters the highest standards in safety, reliability, care and comfort. 218 of these buses will be funded under the Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP). The announcement of 201 ADL Double Deckers refer to the Enviro 500 New Generation by Alexander Dennis, also called the E500 MMC.
At least another 100 buses of this make is likely, and they are already used by many bus operators in Hong Kong. Although there are little details about the 332 MAN 12-metre buses, this bulk order is expected to comprise of MAN NL323Fs, bodywork to be confirmed at a later date. Not included in this order is an additional double-deck bus by MAN called the MAN Lion’s City DD, or MAN A39 (confirmed as A95). These buses are commonly used in Berlin and around Europe, and a single unit was brought in for evaluation purposes.
Several bus enthusiast pages on Facebook have posted that SMRT’s first batch of Enviro500 MMCs will be produced in Malaysia. We would like to assert that such information is false. These buses will be assembled in Zhuhai, China, where ADL also assembles E500 MMCs for the Hong Kong market. They will then be shipped completely-built-up to Singapore. As of 7th April, the Enviro500 MMC demonstrator unit had been sighted in Scotland. Only one unit will be built by ADL in Scotland; the remaining 200 buses will be assembled at the Zhuhai factory. The sole MAN A95 / Lion’s City DD was registered as SMB5888H on 01 Oct 2014.
Double-decker bus rollout:
SMRT’s ADL Enviro500 MMC commenced revenue service on 13th July, with three units being deployed on Service 972 (predictably the first three BSEP-registered buses) on 13 July 2014. According to SMRT, services 106, 188, 190, 850E, 951E, 960, 963, 966 and 969 would also be receiving double-deck buses progressively over the subsequent 3 months.
View main article: Alexander Dennis Enviro500 for rollout table
———————————————————————————————————————————— SMRT ADL E500MMC:
External Links & References:
- SMRT to get more than 100 double-decker buses – Straits Times
- Double Deckers among confirmed delivery of over 570 buses – SMRT