SMRT Buses is leasing additional buses from LTA to support their increase in fleet requirements for their operations to fulfill the BCM requirements. As such, Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses built to SBS Transit specifications have been introduced into the SMRT fleet.
Initial 9 buses (SG1691L – SG1699R)
On Monday, 25 April 2016, SMRT Buses rolled out 9 new Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses with the new pixelated livery onto revenue service. Registered as SG1691L – SG1699R, these buses are built to SBS Transit’s specifications – purple grabpoles, yellow and red seat covers and the orange-purple coinbox.
The buses made their initial stint on Bus Services 61, 67, 171, 851, 854, 855, 857 and 961, but later confined to residential routes around Yishun. As compared to SMRT’s original fleet of 51 Mercedes-Benz Citaros, the buses do not have a Passenger Information System (displaying next bus stop information) and announcement system. In its place is a simple bus stopping indicator. There are two fewer seats, and a simple wheelchair backrest stands in the wheelchair bay instead of a foldable seat – all being SBS Transit’s specifications.
SMRT also added some interior furnishings to distinguish the bus from regular SBS Transit Citaros. These include the WeCare name board at the wheelchair bay, Priority Seats stickers, “Please Move To The Rear” and “Thank You for Travelling with SMRT” texts pasted along the interior panels and at the exit door respectively.
These buses were received by SMRT Buses in early 2016 under the Bus Contracting Model. The buses were initially housed at Woodlands Bus Park bearing SBS Transit’s exterior colours, and were later repainted into SMRT Buses’ pixelated livery. The Electronic Display Signages – a different model from SMRT’s original Citaro buses – were also reformatted and programmed with SMRT bus service data.
While all Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses under SMRT are housed under Ang Mo Kio Bus Depot, it is highly likely that ownership of the SG plated Citaros will be transferred to the future Seletar Bus Package, which will operate out of the upcoming Sungei Seletar Bus Depot. The depot is located between the Seletar Expressway and Lentor Avenue is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2017.
While the thought process behind such cross-operator bus transferring arrangements are unclear, LTA might have been using them in place of new BSEP buses, putting these new buses to good use by boosting SMRTs fleet prior to their transfer to the Seletar Bus Package.
For those interested in catching the new buses, they have been seen on a daily basis on Yishun Feeder or Intratown bus services.
More Citaros for SMRT Buses (SG1030U – SG1050L)
In August 2016, SMRT Buses received 21 LTA-Owned Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses to meet new fleet requirements. Like all GCM assets, these buses were loaned from the LTA.
These buses were registered as SG1030U – SG1050L. 10 buses, SG1030U-SG1039X, were formerly assigned to Tower Transit Singapore and made a handful of revenue service appearances on Bulim Bus Package routes. The other 11 buses, SG1040R–SG1050L, were under storage as excess buses at Bulim Bus Depot since their registration in February 2016. To cover for Tower Transit’s shortfall in buses as a result, the LTA has leased 10 replacement Citaro buses (SG1020Z-SG1029A) to the Bulim Bus Package operator the month before. These reserve buses were previously in storage at Bulim Depot.
At debut, the first 10 buses (SG1030U-SG1039X) sport a full SBS Transit base livery with two small SMRT corporate logos at the front and rear of the bus. On the interior, stickers with SBS Transit logos on them have been peeled off, leaving a neutral interior. Tower Transit had removed these stickers before deploying these buses on revenue service, just as they did for buses freshly transferred from SBS Transit to Tower Transit in May 2016. SG1037B was an exception, first appearing on revenue without SMRT logos.
The later 11 buses (SG1040R-SG1050L) sport the SBS Transit base livery only on the sides of the bus, while the front and rear of the bus are fully white and have a small SMRT corporate logo affixed. On the interior, all stickers have been left in place, including those bearing SBS Transit logos on them, which SMRT have not removed.
These buses are to boost up SMRT’s revenue service fleet to meet new standards under the Bus Contracting Model come 1 Sep 2016, where the full transition is complete. More at our article on Bus Industry Completes Transition to Bus Contracting Model.