SBS Transit’s first MAN A95 (Lion’s City DD Facelift) was launched on 9 September 2017, serving Bus Service 76. Registered as SG5835M, it was the first public bus in Singapore to be equipped with an automated wheelchair ramp. It featured the latest Lion’s City DD Facelift bodywork, with slight modifications in the front bumper and rear design, which was also previously seen in Knackstop’s “Singapore Bus Model.”
The automated wheelchair ramp trial was part on an ongoing study by the Land Transport Authority to study the feasibility of automated ramps, while weighing “operational, practicality and cost considerations.”
Public buses with automated wheelchair ramps are a common sight in some cities such as London, Paris and Perth. However, wheelchair-accessible buses, since their introduction 11 years ago, were all been equipped with manual fold-out ramps fitted on the floorboard of the exit door. These ramps require the bus captain to leave their cabins to deploy them.
Automated ramps for buses are intended to allow quicker boarding and alighting for wheelchair-bound passengers as compared to manual ramps, resulting in overall time-savings for commuters and less burden for bus drivers. However, the automated ramp comes at a higher cost: with moving parts and mechanisms, they cost significantly more to maintain, as inspection and maintenance is required on a far more frequent basis.
SBS Transit mainly operates Volvo double-deck buses under the Bus Contracting Model. SG5835M is the first MAN bus model leased to SBS Transit. SMRT Buses, which currently operates the largest fleet of MAN A95 buses in Singapore, has 77 units with the older design (SMB5888H-SMB5904U, SG5740C-SG5799J), and 30 units with the first facelifted design (SG5800M – SG5829G.) Tower Transit also operates SG5999Z, a 3-door 12.8-metre concept bus which features the first facelifted design.
SBS previously operated a MAN 16.240 HOCL demonstrator unit registered as SBS81S, entering service in 1991 and retiring in 2008. Another demonstrator unit was a MAN 18.240 HOCL-NL registered as SBS8031J, a low-entry bus entering service in 2008. It was retired in 2009 after SBS Transit picked the Scania K230UB chassis for its large-scale fleet renewal.
On 20 July 2017, SBS Transit registered its first MAN A95 bus, SG5835M. The bus was spotted on route training for SBS Transit Bus Service 71, an upcoming Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP) Bus Service under the Seletar Bus Package on 28 August 2017 while displaying the route details.
On 9 September 2017, SG5835M entered revenue service on SBS Transit Bus Service 76 in the late morning. However, the SBS Transit corporate logos was yet to be pasted on the bus, which distinguishes it from other companies’ buses with the Lush Green SG<3Bus livery. The bus was recalled back to Ang Mo Kio Bus Depot in the early afternoon, and returned to revenue service only in the late afternoon, operating a few round trips into the evening.
Automated Wheelchair Ramp
SG5835M is equipped with Masats RT1 Dual Telescopic Ramp, installed underneath the exit door. When deployed, the automated ramp extends outward by one metre, and at 0.8 metres in width, is suitable for a large variety of wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
Supplied by Spanish manufacturer S.A. Masats, the company presently supplies electric door systems and manual wheelchair ramps for transit buses in Singapore, notably those of the MAN brand, including the MAN NL323F, MAN NG363F, and MAN A95. The telescopic ramp allows for a maximum load of 300kg, and a maximum 17-degree inclination of platform.
During the automated deployment, a constant beeping sound alerts commuters to the ramp movement.
It was observed that the exit door must first be closed before the ramp can be deployed. When the green button is pressed (mounted on the top right of the exit door), the ramp deployment process starts. This process is best illustrated in the video above.
When deploying, the exit doors first pop open to allow the ramp cover to fold downwards unobstructed. The doors then close while the ramp extends automatically, and reopens again after the ramp is fully deployed.
When stowing the ramp, the process is reversed. When the green button is activated, the doors close and the ramp retracts automatically. Just before the ramp fully retracts, the doors pop open again to allow the ramp cover to fold upwards unobstructed, before closing again.
The additional step of popping the door open to extend and stow the ramp was necessary as the exterior door gasket overlaps with the ramp cover, interfering with independent operation. In other regions, similar automated ramps fitted to buses are designed to not interfere with the normal operation of the exit door.
The ramp deployment process still requires the assistance of the bus driver by activating the green button the exit door from the inside, given the likely scenario of other commuters being unfamiliar with operation of the ramp. This process may be further fine-tuned in the future.
The bus featured very similar interior specifications as compared to earlier MAN A95 Facelift buses. A total licensed seating capacity of 85 is offered, comprising 28 lower deck 57 upper deck seats. An additional foldable seat is integrated into the wheelchair backrest, which is fitted to the wheelchair bay. Seats are equipped with USB Charging Ports on the sides of the bus.
An additional interior panel has been added to the front of the upper-deck to cover the external design element.
While the onboard Passenger Information System (PIS) is a standard feature to the MAN A95 (which was originally configured for SMRT Buses specifications), it represents a novelty to the SBS Transit fleet which are not fitted with similar display systems. The LED text display, mounted at the front of the bus on both the upper and lower decks, display the name of the next stop as well as”Bus Stopping” when the bell is pressed.
As part of the 122 such buses of this batch, SG5835M bears a modified rear design which would also be used on the later-delivered MAN A95 Facelift buses. The earlier buses of this batch featured a different rear design.
SBS Transit’s second MAN A95, SG5853K, is equipped with a manual wheelchair ramp. It made its revenue service debut on 2 October 2017, running on Bus Service 151.
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