SMRT’s New Double-Deck Buses

External Links: Alexander Dennis Enviro500, MAN A95

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.

SMRT Press Release 2013
SMRT Press Release 2013

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 very first articulated bus, TIB838H (retired in 2013)

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.

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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.

Debut Service Registration (SMBxxxx or SGxxxxx) Remarks
13 Jul 2014 972 3501L 3502J 3503G AP07 TQ01 TQ02
18 Aug 2014 106 3507X 3508T 3509R S190 S191 S192
190 3504D 3505B 3506Z AP90 S190 S191
850E 3511H 3512E S192 S193
966 3513C 3514A 3515Y AP90 S192 S193
969 3510K 3511H* 3512E* 969S190
850ES192* 850ES193*
15 Sep 2014 188 3522B 3523Z AP90 S190
700 3505B 3508T 3529H AP90 AP91 TBC
951E 3524X 3525T S192 S193
963 3520G 3521D 3524X* 3526R 3531A AP90 S190 S191 951ES192*
01 Oct 2014 169 3524X* 951ES913 (963 crossover)
28 Oct 2014 963E 5005P 963S157 (963 crossover)
17 Nov 2014 61 3546H 61S190
176 3552P 5014S 176S190, TBC
965 3530C 3531A 965AP90, 965S190
12 Jan 2015 187 3559X 187AP90
964 3556D 964AP90
15 Feb 2015 67 3534S 3557B  
16 Feb 2015 960 3554J 3555G 3556D 5027B 5031M 960AP90, 960AP91, 960AP92, TBC
25 Apr 2015 983 3509R 3580H 5040L* * Special Run
26 Apr 2015 857 3550U 3581E  
18 May 2015 856 3547E  
15 Jun 2015 961 3581E 961AP07
13 Jul 2015 985 3591B 3592Z 3593X 985AP91, 985AP92, 985AP93
14 Jul 2015 172 5056S 172S107
11 Aug 2015 868 5054Y 5065R 868AM01, 868S101
16 Aug 2015 854 3605X  
24 Aug 2015 171 5059J*

Recalled by OCC due to accidental deployment of Double Decker on non-approved service

969S151 (Crossover from 969)
05 Oct 2015 975 3534S 3569S Downroute Special Departures only; Crosses over from Service 972
12 Oct 2015 981 3608M 3609K 981S190, 981S191
26 Oct 2015 189 3517S 3518P 3522B 3582C  
29 Oct 2015 911E 5068H*

Accidental deployment of Double Decker on non-approved service.

960S105 (Crossover from 960)
28 Dec 2015 979 3535P 3563H 979S101, 979S102
08 Jan 2016 858 5034E* Special midway departure towards Woodlands
09 Jan 2016 MRT Shuttle 5020U Kranji – Sembawang
12 Jan 2016 180 5037Y Crossover from Service 190
03 Mar 2016 302 5054Y

Accidental deployment of Double Decker on non-approved service.

67PM53 (Crossover from 67)
2017 300 Unknown Crossover from 190
12 Jan 2017 860  3607R, 5044B, 5060D, 5074P  
10 Jul 2017 167 3608M  
16 Jul 2017 806 5808S 5809P 5810J 5818M  
23 Jul 2017 188R Unknown Did not enter RWS
10 Sep 2017 962 SG5169C SG5173P SG5582S  
       

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Gallery:

A preview of SMRT's new livery on an ADL Enviro500NG diecast. 201 such units are expected to enter service in the next few years.
A preview of SMRT’s new livery on an ADL Enviro500NG. 201 such units are expected to enter service in the next few years. Link
ADL Enviro500 MMC in Hong Kong
ADL Enviro500NG in Hong Kong (Coach configuration). Operated by Citybus Ltd.
MAN Lion's City DD in Berlin, Germany
MAN Lion’s City DD in Germany. Operated by Berlin Transport Company (Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe). Link
Article on 联合早报, published 3rd April 2014
Article on 联合早报, published 3rd April 2014
SMRT Delegation and the ADL team. Image first appeared on hkitalk.net
SMRT Delegation and the ADL team. Image first appeared on hkitalk.net

———————————————————————————————————————————— SMRT ADL E500MMC:

Gallery:

SMB5002Y – Nearside
SMB5002Y – Offside
SMB5002Y – Offside
SMB5002Y – Rear

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External Links & References:

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