Sunday, August 29, 2010

A review of the SBST Scania K230UB and SMRT Mercedes-Benz OC500LE [Part 1]

As the Scania Euro V batch and the Mercedes Benz OC500LE’s 2nd batch starts rolling in, both variants sporting their own improvements over their predecessors.

The two new types of single deck buses that are currently on the roads ->
  • Swedish breed – Scania K230UB brought in by SBS Transit.
  • Germany breed – Mercedes Benz OC500LE brought in by SMRT Buses
Both buses share similar features that can rival each other.
  • are bodied by the Gemilang, a Malaysian coachwork company.
  • are wheelchair accessible buses (with manual ramps)
  • both are environmentally friendly buses
  • both introduces revolutionary firsts in Singapore’s public transport.
So how do they fare?

Part 1 focuses on the Scania K230UB.

Scania K230UB – SBS Transit – Euro IV & V

EURO IV version

The Euro IV version (demonstrator SBS8033D [top] and the production version [bottom]).

When i first saw the 1st batch Euro IV version of the bus i felt that it’s a modern looking and  a step forward to a better public transportation. It boasted a few firsts for SBS Transit, such as
  • the first Euro IV public buses (after the Euro III B9TL),
  • the first Single Deck buses featuring Wheelchair Accessibility for Passengers In Wheelchairs (PIW) and the
  • first buses fleet to feature Electronic Destination Signage (EDS) by Coolair.

Cue the buzzer, im quite wrong. i still remember my first trip to Orchard Road on one of the Scania K230 on service 174 in Nov 2007 (hint : 1 of the first few buses deployed on 100/174 on their first revenue service). Stepping into the inside of the bus, the whole bus was vibrating quite badly. And for the whole ride it wasn’t quite exactly comfortable. Jerky, braking hard, Osim-level massaging chairs with hard cushion that can rival the bucket seats the retiring SMRT Scania Elbos and hearing the windows and panel’s rattling. I was pretty surprised. Are these the buses that’s going to replace our aging public buses?
Exterior design/bodywork
  • Front
    • A modified licensed Scania front, and the first thing that catches the attention of any passengers is the Electronic Destination Signage or EDS. Supplied by Coolair, it moves SBS Transit away from the era of traditional plastic destination signage. From afar, one can at most see a blob of orange light till the bus nears the bus stop, and given the small font size it’s actually quite hard to see the destination/route number before the bus arrives at the bus stop.
    • Resembles the smiley face, similar to the B9TL’s smiley face concept, with broad wipers and black accentuating the Scania’s modern looking front.
    • from the front you can also see the modern-looking rake-like air intake of the aircon pod.
    • On the whole, the front looks quite nice but can be a bit boring once you see the 500 buses having the same front.
  • Side
    • With the black areas defining the interior walls as the rear half of the bus is not low floor. The rear row of seats is very high due to the engine and it’s pretty small window there. It looks like a truck carrying the cargo at the back. The left of the bus has the Coolair EDS at the left bottom. Nothing too inspiring, just a typical design off the shelf with big Alcoa rims.
  • Rear
    • It’s trying hard just to be Scania-ish by reminding us it’s a Scania with the grey “Scania” strip like the big Scania grey area at the front. The rear EDS is located on the left, and the rear window being small and a “coach-like” rear design. It’s not exactly attractive. Add on the big round rear lights and the right signal light that juts out quite offensively. Oh well….
  • Overall the bus looks quite nice from the front and side. Forget about looking the rear.
  • The interior is mostly brown and the colour is bland, dull, uninspiring and boring. though opinions may vary. Add on the the design of the aircon duct channels; they’re are pretty simplistic and cheap and seems like they are there to just serve its function of channeling cold air from the air conditioner,Slap in the purple grab poles which honestly was a good idea to reflect the company colours together with the red seats, but the brown simply spoils everything. ‘Nuff said, the best is to look out of the window and the scenery instead of looking inside the bus.
  • Comfortable, cooling and nice. Apart from the last row of seats which may or may not be abit stuffy depending on the aircon and the engine below them. The passenger’s at the low floor area seats may not be able to adjust the aircon outlet because it’s situated quite high.

  • Red and Yellow Vogelsitzes complement the interior.The choice of material cover isn’t a good one. If you are to be sitting on the seat for a long trip, say 51, be prepared to move around for another cold seat as the material traps heat quite readily, and the cushion of the seats aren’t thick enough, making a long ride uncomfortable.
  • Legroom’s quite large for most seats. So a plus there.
  • Scanias are quite well known for their vibrations in Singapore (partially stemming from their older brothers in SMRT, the L113CRLs. The measurement of how successful the bus is in the areas of comfort for the passengers.The Euro IV batch vibrates very little to mildly only after they fixed the intolerable vibrations in the subsequent batches (and it continues to vibrate quite hard though more tolerable now). But the vibrations simply shouldn’t be so much as to cause discomfort to them.
  • In fact you get the feeling of the bodywork’s cheapness and almost no sturdiness as it vibrates, overhead panels rattle, the poles are rattling when the bus goes over minor road bumps.
  • It’s a bit of a jerky ride when the bus accelerates and decelerates so one can say it’s not really that smooth though this shouldn’t be a problem as the bus gets worn in.
  • The radiator’s droning……make it stop! The engine noise sounds much better!
  • Rather smooth on highways and roads, but any tiny bumps can cause the interior to shake badly and the grab poles on the low floor area seems to be giving way to breaking at any moment. Quick acceleration and deceleration with its 6 speed gearbox
Well, the Euro IV buses are the first 500 of the 900 Scanias ordered and it had alot of problems that makes the journey rather unpleasant. How will the Euro EEV fare?


The Euro EEV version

When i first saw the Euro EEV version of the Scania i was a little bit skeptical about it given the experiences i had with the Euro IV buses. Hearing that they fixed the problems, i took a ride on one of the Euro EEV with the other bus fans. To be exact, this should be the Scania K230UB version that should be running on the roads!
Exterior design/bodywork
  • Front
    • A slightly different front look this time round compared to the Euro IVs. A bigger EDS that’s by Hanover (and more camera friendly), with a bigger font and bigger terminating destination shown. It’s actually much more clearer from a distance
    • The grey area’s rounded at the edges in instead of streamlined to with the front.
    • The wing mirrors are now bigger, and contains two mirrors to provide the Bus Captain with a wider range of view.
    • The aircon pod’s different, and fits the style of a citybus.
    • On the whole, the front looks quite nice but can be a bit boring once you see the 400 buses having the same front.
  • Side
    • Same as the Euro IV apart from the Hanover EDS on the left side that’s placed at the top of the for seating just right after the front door above the left wheel hub.
  • Rear
    • looks more natural now as the grey strip is closer to the window,effectively making it a streamlined design, giving it a more smooth curve. Though the coach-like rear is still there ^^;
  • Overall, the front and rear looks better than the Euro IV version.

  • More seats and a different configuration for the grab poles at the front of the bus, The brown colour interior/design is carried over from the Euro IV version. Overall, refreshing interior configuration but still bland, dull and uninspiring design for the interior including the panels at the aircon duct.
  • One of the chief complaints about the Euro IV version is the number of seats. For the Euro EEV version there is an increase in the number of seats though not by so many (from 30 to 34) seating passengers in exchange for 1 wheelchair bay. The seats above the wheel hubs are now integrated with the interior fittings instead of dumping a seat above the right wheel hub like the Euro IV batch 2. Other than that, nothing about the seats themselves changed.
  • Same as Euro IV version. Comfortable but the problem of the air-conditioning at the rear row still remains.

  • Red and Yellow Vogelsitzes complement the interior with the same material and same story from the Euro IV version.
  • Surprisingly, very little vibration from the Euro IV batch. It actually makes the bus more comfortable to ride.
  • The radiator’s droning……make it stop! The engine noise sounds much better!
  • Bodywork feels more solidly built now.
  • Not much jerking, pretty much smoother!
  • Smoother when it changes gears, less jerky. retains most of the performance characteristics of the Euro IV batch.
So there you have it, part 1 covering the Scania Euro IV/Euro EEV batch. The Euro EEV batch is a sure improvement over the Euro IV. And the standard should be where the Euro EEV buses are, not the Euro IV buses.The 500 Euro IVs are all delievered and the Euro EEV batch’s deliveries are ongoing. Most of the problems of the Euro IV have been rectified in the Euro EEV version.

The Euro IV version gets 2 out of 5 stars
The Euro EEV version gets 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Next up – The OC500LE’s review!

1 comment:

  1. I really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well.Thanks for sharing this information.And I’ll love to read your next post too.