Bus Accident along Ulu Pandan Road on 16 January 2017

An SMRT Bus and a SBS Transit bus were involved in an accident, leaving both vehicles badly damaged. The incident unfolded in the afternoon of Monday, 16th January 2017, along Ulu Pandan Road. The buses involved were SMB1371H, a SMRT MAN NL323F plying Service 61, and  SG5570B, a SBS Transit Volvo B9TL plying Service 7 at the time of incident.

This incident came just after another major bus accident, where a SMRT Bendy bus crashed into a cluster of trees in Yew Tee on 8th January 2017. Earlier this year, on 6th January 2017 (Friday), involving a SMRT Single-Decker Bus and a SBS Transit Double-Decker Bus at Bukit Merah Bus Interchange.

Incident Accident involving SMRT Rigid Bus and SBS Transit Double-decker Bus
Bus Involved SMRT Buses MAN NL323F (SMB1371H)
Operating on Bus Service 61 (Revenue service)
SBS Transit Volvo B9TL Wright (SG5570B)
Operating on Bus Service 7 (Revenue service)
Location Bus Stop 12111 along Ulu Pandan Road (westbound), just before the T-junction with Clementi Road
Date/Time 16th January 2017, afternoon
Injuries (non-fatal) 10
Accident location marked with a star
Accident location marked with a star

Details regarding how the accident unfolded is unclear, but the SMRT Rigid Bus (SMB1371H) is understood to have been running on Bus Service 61 at the time, travelling along Ulu Pandan Road when it crashed into a SBS Transit Double-Decker Bus (SG5570B) at a bus stop.

Initial pictures of the accident show that the left front side of the SMRT bus impacted the rear right side of the SBS Transit bus, with both buses sustaining damage. The SMRT bus had its windscreen fractured and front body panels crushed inwards. Its front doors were also knocked out of position, leaving shattered glass over the floor.

The SBS Transit bus sustained damage to its rear-mounted powertrain components and air-conditioning unit, with its body panels crushed and green coolant fluid spilled over the road. The battery compartment (beside the front axle) was also opened, presumably to manually disconnect the bus electronics shortly after the accident.

Traffic police were dispatched to the accident scene. The Singapore Civil Defence Force was alerted to the accident at 2.36pm, and sent one fire engine, two ambulances, and one support vehicle to the scene. As reported by The Straits Times, a police spokesman said all 10 victims were conveyed to the hospital conscious.

Buses Involved:

The first bus involved was a MAN NL323F (Registration number SMB1371H), a rigid bus operated by SMRT Buses, running on Bus Service 61 and assigned to Ang Mo Kio Bus Depot at the time of incident. Registered in May 2013, the relatively-new bus had been plying the roads for less than 4 years, and had 13 years and 3 months of useful service life until the end of its 17-year statutory lifespan.

The second bus involved was a Volvo B9TL Wright (Registration number SG5570B), a double-deck bus operated by SBS Transit, running on Bus Service 7 and assigned to Bedok North Bus Depot at the time of incident. Registered in August 2016, the bus had been plying the roads for less than 6 months, and had 16 years and 7 months of useful service life until the end of its 17-year statutory lifespan.

Both buses were relatively new at the time of incident. The SMRT bus was built by a Malaysian company with a lightweight aluminium body structure as a weight-reduction measure. The SBS Transit bus was built locally using complete-knock-down (CKD) kits from Wrightbus, a company based in the United Kingdom.

Built by Gemilang Coachworks of Malaysia, SMRT’s MAN NL323F bus was built with Alcan’s EcoRange® body structure system, which primarily uses lightweight aluminium for extrusions, sheets, and joining elements. The rigidity of such construction is often called into question during accidents when similar aluminium-built buses often suffer serious damage in a collision.

Close ups:

The impact of the collision cracked the front windscreen of the SMRT bus, and broke several of its body panels. The SBS Transit suffered serious damage to its powertrain components, as evident from the crushed radiator grill. Coolant, the green liquid, spilled out and pooled around the accident scene, eventually flowing into other lanes still open to traffic.

On the kerbside, the damage to the SMRT bus is more evident. The front of the bus is crushed inwards, knocking the front doors out of their positions and leaving shattered glass over the floor. The left front mirror impacted the air-conditioning grills of the SBS Transit bus, leaving the mirror bent backwards. Severe damage to the dashboard components is also clear, with the Fare collection box, NOBE and CFMS consoles knocked out of position.

Our Take

While we do not have details on how the accident unfolded, we can make an educated guess based on the position of both buses involved in the accident.

With the SBS Transit bus halfway into the bus bay with plenty of room on the kerbside, we strongly suspect that the SBS Transit bus made an abrupt stop for a passenger waiting at the bus stop, likely because a passenger flagged the bus late. With the overhead bridge obscuring the view of incoming traffic, waiting passengers at the bus stop might not be aware of an arriving bus until the last moment. The driver of the SBS Transit bus approaching the bus stop might also have also been at fault for not slowing down in anticipation for waiting passengers.

The SMRT bus, having impacted the right side of the SBS Transit bus from the rear, could have either been speeding or tailgating the SBS Transit bus, and was unable to stop in time when the double-decker slowed down before entering the bus stop. If a safe distance was kept, a lapse of concentration on the part of the SMRT bus driver might have also led to the inability to avoid the SBS Transit bus, hence leading to the accident.

While damage to both vehicles is certainly repairable, it remains unknown if and when they will return to revenue service.

Gallery (Miscellaneous):

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