Farewell, Volvo B10BLE buses. The only batch of Compressed Natural Gas-powered public buses last operated on 26 July 2019 and has been retired.
In 2002, SBS Transit acquired two Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered Volvo B10BLE buses, as part of the CNG Pilot Project, a trial for the suitability of CNG buses (and taxis) for Singapore roads. The project, jointly undertaken by the Ministry of the Environment, SBS Transit and SembCorp Gas, was launched on 22 April 2002 along with the opening of the first CNG refilling station in Singapore, located on Jurong Island.
The first two units, SBS2988M and SBS2989K, were registered in April and July 2002 respectively. A further 10 units of the Volvo B10BLE (CNG variant) were registered in December 2005 and began revenue service the following year. By utilising cleaner CNG fuel, these buses met the Euro IV emission standards even before Euro III standards were adopted locally.
During the early years of introduction, these buses could only be refuelled on Jurong Island with CNG stations on the mainland not built until years later. The were originally deployed on Jurong Island services when launched (between Jurong East Interchange and Jurong Island). When private operators took over the services, they were redeployed on Boon Lay and Jurong East routes, mainly on Bus Services 105 and 243. In late February 2017, these buses were transferred from Soon Lee Bus Depot to Bukit Batok Bus Depot and refuelled at either Jurong Island or Toh Tuck, and were deployed on Bus Services 99, 156 & 175.
As CNG buses are limited to a very small number of refuelling points, coupled with the additional complexity of fuel storage and specialised engine components, CNG buses have not caught on with both public and private operators alike.
Despite being low-entry, these buses are not equipped with a wheelchair ramp, though a similarly designated wheelchair area is available on the bus, which is utilised as additional standing space. As Singapore gears towards a 100% wheelchair-accessible public bus fleet by 2020, non-wheelchair accessible buses are expected to be fully retired by the end of 2019.
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