|Volvo B9TL (CDGE)|
|Years in operation||2006–Present|
|Engine||Volvo D9A300 EM-EC01|
|Transmission||ZF Ecomat 6HP 602
Voith DIWA 864.3
ZF EcoLife 6AP 1410B
|Emission Standard||Euro III|
In 2006, SBS Transit brought in 200 units of the Volvo B9TL (CDGE) double-deck bus. These buses were Euro III-compliant, with bodywork assembled locally by ComfortDelgro Engineering, or CDGE (the engineering arm of SBS Transit’s parent company, ComfortDelgro). The bodywork was derived from the earlier Volvo B10TL (PSV/CDGE) demonstrator, which bore a prototype bodywork designed in collaboration with PSV International.
The Volvo B9TL (CDGE) buses are the first wheelchair-accessible public buses in Singapore, having been fitted with manual wheelchair ramps. Many more Volvo B9TL buses would later be procured, but paired with the Wright Eclipse Gemini II bodywork instead. As of 2021, the Volvo B9TL is the most common bus model in Singapore, with more than 1600 such units on the roads.
Early retirement of Volvo B9TL (CDGE) buses commenced in March 2021.
The Volvo B9TL is a rear-engined, low-floor double-deck city bus built by Volvo Buses since 2002, available in 2-axle and 3-axle variants. The bus is popular in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The Volvo B9TL was built to succeed the 2-axle Volvo B7TL and the 3-axle Volvo B10TL chassis. A key difference from its B7TL and B10TL predecessors is its new 9.3-litre engine originally designed by Renault Trucks. The larger engine delivers more horsepower, an advantage over the Volvo B10TL which was notorious for its poor performance on steep ascents. Another major design change over the B10TL was the relocation of the water tank from the front of the bus (near the right front wheel) to the rear, next to engine components.
When launched in 2002, the B9TL was initially offered only in a 12-meter 3-axle layout. The 2-axle variant was introduced in 2006 to fully replace the B7TL, with various chassis lengths available (10.3m, 10.4m and 10.6m). The Euro III-compliant Volvo D9A engine (rated at 300 or 340 horsepower) was initially offered, with Voith of ZF transmission options. The Euro V-compliant Volvo D9B engine would later be offered to replace the D9A engine.
While the bodywork design was developed by ComfortDelgro, the design was later sold to/acquired by Manufacturing Commercial Vehicles (MCV) of Egypt.
MCV would later reproduce the bodywork design as the MCV DD103 while incorporating minor styling changes. This bodywork design was produced between 2011 and 2014 (although a prototype unit was first unveiled in 2010) and paired with a Volvo B9TL 2-axle chassis. It saw few bulk orders during its short production run and was later succeeded by the MCV Evoseti.
Volvo B9TL (Euro III) – PSV/CDGE bodywork (200 units)
In late 2004, SBS Transit placed orders for 150 Volvo B9TL (Euro III) chassis at a cost of S$71 million on 28 December 2004, with an option for 50 more units. Buses were assembled locally by ComfortDelGro Engineering (CDGE), the engineering branch of SBS Transit’s parent company ComfortDelGro. A prototype bodywork had previously been fitted on a Volvo B10TL (SBS9889U), developed by SBS in cooperation with PSV International, and this bodywork was going to be mass-produced for use on the Volvo B9TL.
On 15 February 2006, a prototype bus was unveiled, a Volvo B9TL with a zero-step entrance, a manual wheelchair ramp and other wheelchair-friendly features. As Singapore’s first Wheelchair-Accessible Buses (or WAB), they were going to pave the way for a more disabled-friendly transport system. The launch date was delayed from April to June to prepare bus stops for wheelchair boarding and alighting activities. Finally, on 27 June 2006, SBS Transit Service 21 became the first wheelchair-accessible bus service with 10 Volvo B9TL CDGE buses assigned to its fleet.
Later in 2006, SBS Transit exercised its options for an additional 50 more buses at a cost of S$29 million, soon after putting its first B9TLs into operation, bringing the total fleet size to 200. These B9TLs come with the same Euro III-compliant Volvo D9A300 engine, but a four-speed Voith DIWA 864.3 gearbox instead of the six-speed ZF Ecomat 6HP 602 fitted to earlier buses.
Volvo B9TL (CDGE) buses were registered between 17 May 2006 and 28 September 2006, with the registration numbers SBS7300P to SBS7499A. All buses were units were registered just days before the 1 October 2006 cutoff date, after which the minimum emission standard for diesel-engined heavy vehicles was raised from Euro III to Euro IV.
|Basic Technical Specifications|
|Engine||Volvo D9A300 EM-EC01 engine, 9364 cc, Euro III-compliant
Power/Torque rating of 300 hp (220 kW) @ 1900 rpm / 1400 Nm @ 1100 – 1400 rpm
|Transmission||ZF Ecomat 6HP 602 gearbox (149 units) – Six-speed automatic
Voith DIWA 864.3 gearbox (50 units) – Four-speed automatic
ZF EcoLife 6AP 1410B gearbox (1 unit) – Six-speed automatic
|Bodywork||PSV International / ComfortDelGro Engineering Bodywork
Prototype bodywork designed by SBS and PSV International
Assembled by ComfortDelGro Engineering
|EDS||LECIP Electronic Display Sign (EDS)
Orange LED matrix mounted on front, side and rear
Formerly using plastic destination signs on front, side and rear
|Doors||SMC Transit doors
Double-leaf entrance, double swinging plug exit
|Capacity||Licensed capacity of 124 passengers:
53 upper deck seating, 27 lower deck seating and 44 standing
The design of the Volvo B9TL (CDGE) buses were adapted from the Volvo B10TL (PSV/CDGE) demonstrator (SBS9889U), which was a prototype bodywork designed by SBS and PSV International, a UK-based company that designs passenger vehicles (including buses) and assembles them in their country of operation, mainly using components sourced regionally.
Similarly, the Volvo B9TL (CDGE) buses were assembled in Singapore by ComfortDelgro Engineering (the engineering branch of Comfort DelGro, SBS Transit’s parent company).
The Government had subsidised the cost of fitting the bus with wheelchair-friendly features, such as the manually operated wheelchair ramps. Each bus has one wheelchair bay. The bus was also equipped with safety features such as throttle interlocking, which prevents the bus from moving off when doors are opened. Doors will not open above 5 km/h nor close if the wheelchair ramp is still deployed. Additional blinkers on the offside of the bus make the bus more visible to oncoming traffic as it exits a bus bay.
SBS7321D had its ZF Ecomat 6HP 602 gearbox replaced with a ZF EcoLife 6AP 1410B gearbox for reasons unknown. The same make of gearbox is fitted to Wright-bodied Volvo B9TLs.
|Volvo B9TL CDGE transmission|
|ZF Ecomat 6HP 602||SBS7300P – SBS7341X, SBS7347E – SBS7402D, SBS7448Y – SBS7499A, excluding SBS7321D|
|Voith DIWA 864.3||SBS7342T – SBS7346H, SBS7403B – SBS7447A|
|ZF EcoLife 6AP 1410B||SBS7321D|
Volvo B9TL (CDGE) buses originally used plastic destination signs (more colloquially ‘destos’) on the front, side and rear. In late 2011, SBS Transit started refitting these buses with Electronic Display Signs (EDS) supplied by LECIP. SBS7392Z was the first bus to receive it in August 2011, and this was eventually rolled out to all 199 buses by early 2012. The upgrade consists of three sets of electronic displays, for the front, side and rear of the bus.
The new LECIP EDS units had route numbers that were smaller than that of the plastic destination signs which they replaced. However, this allowed SBS Transit to accelerate the phasing-out of plastic destination signs.
Starting in 2019, a handful of buses had their retrofitted first-generation side EDS units (i.e. beside the entrance door) replaced with larger EDS units, identical to ones fitted to Volvo B9TL (Wright) buses (also supplied by LECIP). SBS7328K first received it in January 2019, followed by SBS7382C in late 2019, SBS7491X in January 2020, and SBS7398H in January 2021. Comparison photos are in the gallery.
Refurbishment / Lush Green Livery:
The first Volvo B9TL CDGE to be repainted to Lush Green was SBS7368U, which returned to revenue service on 6 October 2018. Repainting of the remaining 198 buses was completed in late September 2019, with the exception of SBS7428E which returned to service in December 2019 following an accident a year prior.
Mid-life refurbishment of these buses was also carried out around the same timeframe (2018-2019 period). This included:
- New floorboard covering
- New seat covers and upholstery
- Repainted grab poles, stanchion poles and interior panels
- Original transparent handgrips with advertising space replaced with conventional ones
- Upgraded CCTV system with HD cameras
- Replaced interior lights
While initial units were refurbished with yellow seat covers, subsequent buses were refurbished with red seat covers commonly found on other SBS Transit bus models.
Accidents & Incidents
On 7 March 2010, SBS7440T (Ang Mo Kio Depot / Service 25) was one of six double-deck buses that were burnt in a fire at Ang Mo Kio Bus Depot. It was de-registered several months later in November 2010, making it the first Volvo B9TL in Singapore to be de-registered.
On 23 April 2018, SBS7428E on Service 72 was involved in a fatal accident outside Yio Chu Kang Bus Interchange, where a lorry mounted the pedestrian sidewalk and hit the bus before coming to a stop, resulting in 3 pedestrian fatalities. The bus was de-registered for a period in 2019, before being reinstated in December 2019.
In March 2021, several Volvo B9TL (CDGE) buses were taken out of revenue service, having been on the roads for about 15 years (out of their 17-year statutory lifespan). These buses were also in fairly good interior condition, having undergone refurbishment work less than 3 years prior. They were replaced by 35 units of MAN A95 (Euro 6) – Batch 2 buses.
Scrapping of retired buses commenced in end-April 2021, with buses scrapped at Kiat Lee Machinery Pte Ltd.
The early retirement of these buses could be linked to the Early Turnover Scheme, where the Government incentivizes businesses to replace their older diesel vehicles with newer ones that meet the latest emission standards. Volvo B9TL (CDGE) buses are the last Euro III public buses in Singapore, and a prevailing excess of new buses would make it easy to bring forward the phase-out of these buses.
The lower deck of the bus features 27 permanent seats. Being a low-entry bus, the bus offers step-free access only between entry and exit doors, with a raised aisle section leading to the rear seating area. A staircase behind the driver’s cab connects the lower and upper decks.
Like most double-deck buses in Singapore, the Volvo B9TL (CDGE) buses are configured with two doors: an entrance door at the front, and an exit door in the middle. The entrance doors are conventional inward-swinging leaf doors, while the exit doors are outward-swinging swing plug doors. They are supplied by SMC Transit, and are pneumatically operated.
Opposite the staircase, there are four side-facing priority seats, reserved for elderly and handicapped passengers, and passengers travelling with young children. They are indicated in green seat covers.
A wheelchair bay is located behind the staircase and opposite the exit door, which accommodates one passenger-in-wheelchair and doubles up as standing space when not in use. Wheelchair accessibility is offered via a manual ramp installed at the exit door. The Government had subsidised the cost of fitting the bus with wheelchair-friendly features, such as the manually operated wheelchair ramps; however, some buses have had their ramps replaced with a more updated design.
Grab poles and handgrips are located on both sides of the aisle. All seats also have hand grips to provide commuters with additional support.
Bus stopping bell-pushes are located around the bus cabin, either mounted to stanchion poles or on the pillars in-between windows. Emergency hammers are also located on these pillars.
The seating layout at the rear is unique to the Volvo B9TL (CDGE), with aisle-facing seats from the exit door all the way until the last row, which is comprised of 5 front-facing seats. This layout was likely chosen to avoid interfering with the wheel wells of the rear axles, Most other models of double-deck buses had front-facing seats behind the rear exit door.
The upper deck of the bus is laid out in conventional four-abreast seating, with a central aisle running the length of the bus.
There are 55 seats on the upper deck. A unique feature on the Volvo B9TL (CDGE) is the side-facing seats at the rear, which maximizes seating capacity since there was no room to install two rows of front-facing seats.
Grab poles run the length of the aisle for commuters moving around the bus. All seats also have hand grips to provide commuters with additional support. Bus stopping bell-pushes are located around the bus cabin, mounted to stanchion poles. Emergency hammers are also located on pillars in-between windows.
The staircase allows for passenger movement between the lower and upper decks of the bus. A seat counter (LCD number display) on the lower deck displays the number of available seats on the upper deck.
The farebox, New Onboard Bus Equipment (NOBE) fare collection system and Trapeze Common Fleet Management System (CFMS) display unit are located on the left of the instrument cluster. Door controls, light switches and the handbrake lever (out of frame) are located on the right of the driver.
Sale of old seats as office chairs
On 31 May 2021, scrapyard Kim Li Huat Hardware Pte Ltd posted in since-deleted Facebook and Instagram posts that it was selling Volvo B9TL (CDGE) seats repurposed as office chairs. Each seat was fitted with an office chair base and sold for $100 each, with bulk discounts available.
The story was picked up by online news sites the day after (1 June 2021), and the Facebook post was taken down shortly after, citing that all chairs had been sold out. In an article with Chinese publication Lianhe Zaobao, the bus chairs were revealed to be the brainchild of 曾俊睿, the 17-year-old son of Kim Li Huat’s boss, and Year 1 student reading Business Administration at Singapore Polytechnic. He was inspired by similar bus seat modifications online and enlisted the help of his parents to acquire the red Volvo B9TL (CDGE) seats from industry friends (likely from fellow scrapyard Kiat Lee Machinery Pte Ltd, where these buses are scrapped).
According to 曾俊睿, each seat took about two hours to retrofit, with the assistance of workers at Kim Li Huat. The modification work involved cutting double seats into single seats, cleaning the seats, and installing the lower seat mechanism, including castor wheels and the height adjustment mechanism. He also expressed surprise at the popularity of the seats, which sold 80 units within the first day of posting it online.
There are 80 seats in a single Volvo B9TL (CDGE) bus, with 53 on the upper deck, and 27 on the lower deck.
- 废车厂老板儿巧思妙想改装 “巴士办公椅”一天接80订单 | 早报 (zaobao.com.sg)
- Modifying bus sets into office chairs, polytechnic student receives 80 orders a day | News | SP
Side EDS comparison
Bus Exteriors (SBS Transit Livery)
Bus Exteriors (Lush Green Livery)
External Links & References:
- The Circle of London : London United’s new Decker… [Accessed 20 Mar 2021]