First published on 03 August 2016. Last updated on 30 November 2016.
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.
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.
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.
The following 21 buses are registered under SMRT Buses:
SG5040P, SG5041L, SG5042J, SG5043G, SG5044D, SG5045B, SG5046Z, SG5047X, SG5048T, SG5049R, SG5050K, SG5051H, SG5052E, SG5061D, SG5062B, SG5063Z, SG5064X, SG5065T, SG5066R, SG5067M, SG5068K
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.
In September 2016, LTA leased additional Volvo B9TL buses to SMRT Buses for the fulfillment of new service standards under the Bus Contracting Model.
The following 19 buses are registered under SMRT Buses:
SG5085K, SG5086H, SG5087E, SG5088C, SG5089A, SG5121P, SG5122L, SG5123J, SG5124G, SG5125D, SG5126B, SG5127Z, SG5128X, SG5129T, SG5130M, SG5131K, SG5132H, SG5133E, SG5134C
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.
On 26 November 2016, another 7 buses were leased to SMRT Buses. The buses are: SG5581U, SG5582S, SG5583P, SG5584L, SG5585J, SG5586G, SG5587D.
Yet another 8 buses were leased to SMRT Buses on 29 November 2016 The buses are: SG5573T – SG5580Y. SG5573T, SG5574R & SG5575M were formerly leased to SBS Transit. More on transfer of buses to different operators in our dedicated article.
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.
- 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.
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.
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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