Sunday, August 29, 2010

SMRT’s Yutong ZK6126HGC

Some history

Months ago in China, there laid a bus lying in a Yutong plant, awaiting shipment to Singapore to SMRT Buses. Most of the bus fans and forum visitors thought that the bus is photoshopped with the livery of SMRT. But as discussions when on, all of us discovered that there are ezlink equipments installed, and that Yutong does LHD buses for export market. More confirmations that the bus arrived in Singapore soon crushed the speculations that the picture is photoshopped.

From then the waiting game started – from Feb till now,the bus was spotted with trade plate in the west and some depots but somehow no one managed to catch a pic, adding to the already mysterious yet alluring sense that this is gonna be the first ever public bus that’s from a China coach manufacturer, and the front of the bus was never revealed in the forum at all, till today, though previews of the front was sort of hinted at.

Till it was revealed to be registered a few days ago as “SMB135E”

And you can imagine the suprising reaction of the public and SLs alike when they saw this odd looking, unique yet new bus with the logo [中国宇通] from the side and the back.

How does this F1RST MIC public bus fare?

This Yutong ZK introduces more F1RSTs for SMRT Buses.
  • F1RST China public bus to be on revenue service
  • F1RST to use a set of similar front/side/rear EDS that shows synchronised route information. Previous SMRT Buses uses a Main EDS with route info, and smaller side/rear EDS displaying only the route number.
  • F1RST public bus not to have an adjustable aircon outlet. Read more about it under “Aircon”.
  • F1RST public bus to use rim covers for the rims.
  • F1RST public bus to ever have a seatbelt for the Bus Captain.
First day on revenue service on 854 – Bedok/Yishun.

I never got a chance to take any MIC public buses or coaches till the recent introduction of this Yutong bus. There was also the stereotype that MIC buses are cheap, sucks in quality etc etc, and there must be a special reason why SMRT Buses actually accepted this demo unit from Yutong. Searching Yutong’s website it’s actually quite a good company that is the largest bus manufacturers in China.
Exterior design/bodywork
  • The front looks unique for a citybus, and probably because the design is not like the usual European-styled citybuses it attracted quite a bit of attention on its maiden day, and it reminds of one of the Volgren Hino demo (TIB905Y) Though one have to get used to the looks of this bus.
The headlight/bumper area
  • The side of the bus does follow the SMRT’s recent configuration (Entrance, two windows, Exit doors). And the side is similar to the Hispano Habit, minus the tinted windows. The Yutong badge is displayed prominently beside the entrance door to let passengers know this is a YUTONG [中国宇通] bus. The side EDS, for the first in SMRT Buses, displays the route info together with the route number.
P8200071 The Yutong’s front and side.
  • Rear of the bus looks nice, though one can be reminded of the O405 Hispano/OC500LE Gemilang’s rear and it does not have a third brake light. Also, the route details and route number is also displayed prominently on the top, also a first in public buses to give passengers seeing the bus from the rear more info about the route/direction it travels.
P8200072 The rear

Hopper Windows.
Overall, this bus’s design seems inspired by several buses, the Volgren Hino (front), the Hispano Habit (side), and OC500LE Gemilang/O405 Hispano (rear) and the UMW Dennis Lance though it blends a touch of China buses look.
  • If you’ve taken the recently introduced Scania K230UB or the OC500LE, the interior configuration should not be too much of a suprise. It has the interior styling of the OC500LE combined with the seating arrangement for the OC500LE/Scania K230UB.
P8200051 The interior, viewed from back
P8200059 Priority seats
PIW Wheelchair area
Exit door/Wheelchair ramp
Bus Stopping
Doors Closing sign
The rear door’s mechanism hidden beneath the bus, unlike other plug door buses in Singapore which more of the plug door’s mechanism can be seen.
  • If you’re wondering where’s the adjustable aircon outlet, the green aircon vents are the answer. From ball/eye type to a single vent type (Habit/OC) then to this vents. Unless you seat at the rear row of seats. More trainset influences in this bus (On SMRT Trains, you can’t adjust the aircon flow either).
P8200052 Aircon ducts. Yes, those tiny holes. SMRT forgot that we’d like to adjust the aircon flow in buses, unlike sharing a huge aircon system in their trainsets.

P8200054 Though the rear row of seats have these ball type vents.

Though i have to say, thanks to the various tiny holes, the aircon did not come out as strong though it was still quite cooling.
  • The China type seats, probably inspired from Volgelsitze and having a brown/red leather combo cover for the cushion. Though the seats feel pretty comfortable.
P8200075 Above the rear wheel hub there’s a flat area for the foot of the person to rest, no irritating arch to bend the foot on.
Overall, the bus is pretty comfortable, apart from the slightly noisier interior when the engine idles. And when the bus opens and closes, there is a long loud beep tone when the doors open and close. And for the rear doors, it opens very nosily, though i believe AMDEP will fix that up with Yutong. The starting off/idling can feel like you’re actually on a coach, and also, ergonomic wise, the interior compartments like the ticketing machine and the rear door left ez-link card reader is mounted too high for some people to tap their cards.
The vibration of the engine can be felt mostly at the rear rows of seats, but it is rather tolerable.
Apart from the slower pickup and the slight difficulty in reaching the top gear (max speed 60kmph), the performance is pretty good at the moment.
Overall, this bus gets a 7 out of 10 and there are rooms for this bus to be improved on. But it is a very impressive MIC product apart from some obvious minor flaws to it (like the rear doors opening) and design flaws (the aircon ducts are missing!). And the bus is pretty noisy in the interior sometimes.I believe SMRT’s starting to really make their buses department more and more like the experience on trains (after voice announcements, they have none-adjustable aircon ducts like the ones on the trains).

Also debunking the myths that China products is low-quality cheap copycats, this Yutong has surpassed my initial expectations in regards to the build quality. The bus feels pretty solid and well built. And given similar Yutong buses are being used in several countries, including mainland China, it’s a really good alternative over the traditional western chassis/buses.
Misc stuffs to note about this bus.
P8200070 The Yutong badge.
With warning signs to alert you not to hit your head.

P8200061 The PIW bell now faces down/sideways due to the original PIW design having more accidental presses when it is faced upwards.
Speakers, 8 of them in the bus for a yet unknown purpose
The noisy door system as of 20th August 2009. Yea, very noisy when it opens.
No Standing On Steps on a floor/zero step entrance to exit bus. Weird
The reverse view camera.
Rear rim covers, the PIW button and the fuel tank cover.

The logo on the window - Yutong Coach
The fire extinguisher compartment above the right wheel hub.

**Update on 06/05/2011 : The bus has since been rejected and is now with Bedok Transport

1 comment:

  1. Excellent blog !!Thank you very much to share with us,such a wonderful information you provide in your blog articles.

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