SMRT Volvo B9TL buses begin operations!

SG5068K on 172 - SMRT Buses Volvo B9TL, Wright Eclipse Gemini II body
SG5068K on 172 – SMRT Buses Volvo B9TL, Wright Eclipse Gemini II body

First published on 03 August 2016. Last updated on 15 Feb 2017.

On Wednesday, 3 August 2016, SMRT Buses rolled out multiple Volvo B9TL double-decker buses on revenue service. First spotted on Bus Services 180 and 983, these buses bear the standardized Lush Green SG❤Bus livery with SMRT’s corporate logo.

These buses are owned by the Land Transport Authority, and have been taken out of its pool of buses in storage and issued to SMRT Buses to operate and maintain, in exchange for SMRT’s own Alexander-Dennis Enviro500 buses which were transferred to Tower Transit under the Bulim Bus Package.

In addition to the first batch of Lush Green buses, additional Volvo B9TL buses were allocated to SMRT Buses to meet new fleet requirements under the Full transition to the BCM. Owing to the lack of lead time for repainting, SMRT started deploying them in SBS Transit’s corporate base livery starting in early September 2016.


Background

SMRT double-decker buses first commenced revenue service on 13 July 2014, They were of the Alexander Dennis Enviro500 make, with a total of 201 units acquired. Four months later, SMRT Buses started trialing a MAN ND363F (A95) double-decker bus, and more of such buses were subsequently procured, although the total number of buses ordered remains unknown.

In the same year, the Bus Contracting Model was announced. All bus assets would be gradually transferred to, and eventually owned by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). With that, the LTA steadily began to build up a pool of Government-owned buses by recalling buses previously issued to Public Transport Operators under the BSEP, as well as procuring new buses by adding on to existing bus orders by SBS Transit and SMRT. As a result, LTA gained a pool of brand-new buses mostly of SBS Transit-specifications (since they were undergoing large-scale fleet renewal at the time).

In the weeks and months leading up to the Bulim Bus Package, a handful of Alexander Dennis Enviro500 buses were transferred to Tower Transit corresponding to their original deployment on Service 106. In a seemingly odd decision, LTA arranged for even more Enviro500 buses to be transferred from SMRT to Tower Transit. In return, SMRT would receive SBS Transit-spec Volvo B9TL buses (previously in storage) to make up for the shortfall.

These Volvo B9TL buses operating with SMRT are painted in the Lush Green livery with SMRT corporate logos and interior stickers.


First Sightings

On 18 July 2016 (Monday), multiple units of the Volvo B9TL with Wright Eclipse Gemini II bodywork were spotted parking in SMRT Buses’ Depots in Woodlands and Kranji. Wrapped in SBS Transit’s corporate colours, the buses can be easily distinguished from the other SMRT Buses. None of the buses have been put on revenue service, and some were previously spotted parking in Tower Transit’s Bulim Bus Depot.

This is not the first occurrence of SBS Transit buses being issued to SMRT Buses. Previously, 9 Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses with SBS Transit interior configurations were issued to SMRT Buses. Registered as SG1691L – SG1699R, the nine buses feature SBS Transit’s interior colour scheme while bearing SMRT Buses exterior livery. More on these buses at our dedicated article here.

This is an unusual move as SMRT Buses has not operated Volvo buses before. The bus operator currently operates a majority of Alexander Dennis, MAN and Mercedes-Benz buses, with no other Volvo models. It is unknown why LTA would issue the Volvo buses to SMRT Buses, when there are over 20 new MAN A95 buses parked at Bulim Bus Depot.

Additional Buses

In September 2016, LTA leased additional Volvo B9TL buses to SMRT Buses for the fulfillment of new service standards under the Bus Contracting Model. Owing to the lack of lead time for repainting all of these buses into Lush Green before 1 September 2016, SMRT started deploying several units in SBS Transit’s corporate base livery, with a small SMRT logo at the front and rear of the bus.

More buses were leased to SMRT as replacement for the retiring Mercedes-Benz O405G (Hispano Mk II) buses.

As of 12 Feb 2017:

SMRT Volvo B9TL
Registration No. Quantity
SG5040P – SG5052E, SG5061D – SG5068K, SG5085K – SG5089A,
SG5119Y – SG5137U & SG5148M – SG5156P
54
SG5417L – SG5419G, SG5421Z – SG5431U, SG5433P,
SG5435J – SG5436G
17
SG5573T – SG5587D, SG5595E – SG5599U & SG5602T – SG5603R 22
Total 93

Some of the SMRT Volvo B9TL’s were previously leased to other operators such as SBS Transit Ltd. More on transfer of buses to different operators in our dedicated article.


Specifications

These buses share identical technical specifications to SBS Transit’s Batch 4 Volvo B9TL buses, a notable interior feature being its ‘straight staircase’ with two landings instead of the conventional curved and continuous staircase. SMRT’s Enviro500 buses already feature a similar design.

Basic Specifications:

  • Volvo D9B310 EC06B engine
    – Turbocharged & intercooled, 9364cc
    – 310 hp (228 kW) @ 1900 rpm
    – Torque rating of 1400 Nm @ 1100 – 1500 rpm
  • Euro-V compliant
    Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology requiring diesel exhaust fluids such as AdBlue.
  • ZF EcoLife 6 AP 1400 B gearbox
    Six-speed automatic transmission
  • Wright Eclipse Gemini II Bodywork
    Body kits supplied by Wrightbus of United Kingdom in CKD (complete knock-down) form, assembled locally by SBS Transit’s technical counterpart, ComfortDelgro Engineering
  • LECIP Electronic Display Signages (EDS)
    Orange LED matrix design.
  • Carrier Sutrak air-conditioning, rear-mounted

At launch, SMRT programmed the Electronic Display Signages (EDS) with a simple, thin font for both the service number and the route details. These have since been updated with a thicker font for both the service number and the route details, and the route details are now centralised.


Interior

Similar to the 9 SMRT Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses with SBS Transit specifications, SMRT Buses has affixed its own stickers inside the bus, replacing the SBS Transit ones. All other interior fixtures remain unchanged.

Gallery (Lush Green):

Gallery (SBS Transit Base Livery)

In September 2016, LTA leased additional Volvo B9TL buses to SMRT Buses for the fulfillment of new service standards under the Bus Contracting Model. Owing to the lack of lead time for repainting these buses into Lush Green before 1 September 2016, SMRT started deploying them in SBS Transit’s corporate base livery, with a small SMRT logo at the front and rear of the bus.


Reactions

For commuters and bus enthusiasts alike, the deployment of Volvo B9TL buses (in full SBS Transit specifications) on SMRT bus services brought about a large novelty factor and even reminiscence of SBS operations on some bus routes (180 was previously operated by SBS before handing over to TIBS in 1983). Having introduced double-deck buses only 2 years ago, SMRT’s LTA-issued Volvo B9TL buses are the third model of double-deck buses that the company operates, representing a refreshing variety of bus models in the face of aggressive fleet standardization.

The decision for LTA to exchange SMRT’s Enviro500 buses for Volvo B9TL buses is unknown; after all, they could have simply issued more Volvo B9TL buses to the Bulim Bus Package. One possibility is that LTA wanted to gain some mileage on these Volvo B9TL buses which were previously in storage, sitting unused in Bulim Depot for months to years, and balances out SMRT’s high-mileage Enviro500s which are frequently deployed on bus routes plying long expressway sectors (190, 700/A, 960, 966, 972 to name a few). With more Volvo B9TL buses joining the SMRT fleet in the near future, more bus routes are expected to receive them, especially those with long expressway sectors.


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6 thoughts on “SMRT Volvo B9TL buses begin operations!

  • 11 August 2016 at 10:22 PM
    Permalink

    LTA should consider having similar fixtures and same interior seat cushions and colours to go with Lush Green. e.g. license to carry, notices to pay the correct fares, EDS etc. should be of SG♡BUS; SMRT-colour interior and green poles so that everything is regardless of bus operator.

    Maybe this move is in case SMRT wins Seletar? SMRT would operate these Volvos anyway, in the event it takes over 13 bus services from SBS Transit. By the way, will LTA issue Alexander Dennis Enviro500s and MANs to SBS Transit?

    Reply
    • 6 November 2016 at 7:11 PM
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      Yea a whole lot of bus enthusiasts would be really mad if everything is DAMN GREEN.

      Reply
      • 10 December 2016 at 5:10 PM
        Permalink

        I beg to differ, because currently some buses are without the bus operator logos and it feels really awkward. Should allow for time for buses to be painted LUSH.

        Reply
    • 31 January 2017 at 1:48 PM
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      Its quite late to reply but i am sure enviros are not for SBST. They are for BCM used only, which is why SMRT receive volvo to replace enviro. As for MAN, in the future yes, SBST will operate them (The future concept buses). MAN NL,NG and ND models now are not for SBST since SBST have more than enough buses.

      Reply
  • 9 August 2016 at 11:44 PM
    Permalink

    It’s because LTA wanted to restrict the bus models deployed to the different areas. Bukit Batok to have ADL E500 and MAN A22 perm, whereas Jurong to have B9TL and Citaro perm buses. However, things have changed and those additional Enviros will be deployed over to Jurong instead of Bukit Batok services.

    Quite dumb isn’t it.

    Reply
    • 13 August 2016 at 11:53 AM
      Permalink

      No it isn’t. SMRT would operate them anyway, should it win Seletar or the eight SBS bus packages. On the other hand, should other bus operators, such as SBS/Tower Transit/Go-Ahead, win SMRT’s three bus packages, they would also operate these Volvos.

      Reply

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