Tuesday, August 28, 2012

SBS Transit : Volvo B10M MK IV "Superlong" / Duple Metsec (SBS997A)

The Volvo B10M-70 MK IV Superlong demonstrator was introduced in 1995. The bus is almost identical to its regular MK IV Duple Metsec (DM) 12m cousins and is allocated a registration number right after SBS996C. SBS997A is a 3 axle rigid, 14.5m vehicle equipped with a Volvo THD102KF engine and a ZF 4HP590 gearbox.

SBS997A on 62, which it was serving before being redeployed to 83 between Punggol - Sengkang (Loop).
SBS997A was trialled together with the other two high capacity articulated (bendy) buses SBS998Y (a B10M-Articulated with Duple Metsec bodywork) and SBS999U (a Mercedes Benz O405G with Volgren bodywork).

The 3 high capacity buses were trialled by then- Singapore Bus Service (SBS) to test the suitablity of using high capacity single deck buses on routes inaccessible or unsuitable for double-deckers. Rival operator Trans Island went for the articulated Mercedes Benz O405G bodied by Hispano registered as TIB838H for the trial..

SBS998Y - Volvo B10M Articulated with Duple Metsec bodywork. (Photo source - Christopher Lee)
SBS999U - Mercedes Benz O405G with Volgren bodywork (Photo source - Christopher Lee)
While the trial for all 3 units with SBS was not successful and no production vehicles were brought in, Trans Island's articulated (bendy) bus trial was successful and saw the Mercedes Benz O405G being brought in with both Hispano (MKI/II/Habit) and Volgren bodywork. SBS went on to concentrate on double deckers instead.

It was said the 3 units - SBS997A,SBS998Y and SBS999U put up for sale but only SBS998Y and SBS999U was bought by Bayes Coachline in New Zealand.
Ex-SBS998Y, Photo by Peter Thompson from http://www.omnibus.org.nz/buslocation/volvo/bayes.html
Ex-SBS999U - Photo by Zack Harrison from Google Search
It's just a guess - SBS997A's supposed problem was the passengers alighting from the rear exit- there was no third exit and passengers from the rear had to squeeze through the long length of crowd to aligh, though it might be the length of the bus at 14.5m and negotiating difficulties. SBS998Y and SBS999U's supposed problem was with the near 18m length taking up space, negotiating difficulties and the depot facilities/ driver training were catered for double deckers - the mainstay high capacity vehicle type for SBS since the 80s. 

And so the remaining bus for the high capacity single deck trial SBS997A stayed on and is likely to be retired in October 2012.
SBS997A turning out on 83 back to Punggol.
SBS997A (and the B10MA articulated SBS998Y)'s bodywork was derived from the Duple Metsec bodied MK IV 12m, with the difference in the signage area (SBS997A using Mobitec flipdot signage while regular Duple Metsec bodied MK IV uses plastic signage/route plates).
SBS997A with a 12m DM B10M MK IV.
This bodywork design was derived from the retired Volvo B10M MK III....
A Duple Metsec bodied B10M MK III (front) with a MK IV behind
....which was derived from the retired Volvo B10M MK II (Duple Metsec)

Volvo B10M MK II (Duple Metsec (Photo source - Rainbowbus)
Another difference between the MK IV DM and the Superlong is the rear - SBS997A's rear is tapered to prevent it from hitting things when turning. The tapered rear is also present on SBS998Y.

SBS997A's tapered rear. Due to the length of the bus, a "Long Vehicle" sign was installed beside the license plate, together with a warning bumper sticker.

SBS998Y's tapered rear (Photo source - Christopher Lee)
And a comparison of the tapered rear with the standard rear

The rear of the MK IV and MK IV Superlong

The interior for SBS997A is largely similar to the unrefurbished DM Volvo B10M MK IV, save for a few differences.

Interior of SBS888G, a (now retired) unrefurbished DM bodied MK IV .

Interior of SBS997A
The front view~
The differences include
  • Yellow grab poles with ribbings for extra grip for passengers.
  • Full length parallel lighting on SBS997A vs Staggered lighting on the DM B10M MK IVs.
  • Extra seatings due to the increased length
And also above the right wheelarch, the side facing seats in the DM MK IV are configured as bench front/back facing seas on the Superlong.

Front/back wheelarch seating instead of side facing seats, may be due to the increase length allowing for legroom for such configuration.
Misc stuffs:

A fan-type thing on the ceiling of the bus, and part of the parallel lighting is shown here.

Some speaker behind the drive cabin, and the "Licensed to Carry" sticker has modified numbers for the legal carrying capacity of SBS997A.

Above the driver's cabin - Licensed to carry sticker and chassis plate.
Mobitec signage controller~
Information plates on SBS997A, together with the SBS sticker that says "assembled in BA/HG" (Bus Assembly/Hougang).

The left wheelarch housing, where the farecard validator used to stand and also houses the first aid kit. The wiring for the side Mobitec signage can be seen.
The rear facing seat beside the Mobitec side signage.
The full length parallel lighting turned on.
SBS997A will be retiring on 13 Oct 2012, provided if no extensions are given. It's pretty much one of the more unique demonstrators of the 90s, being a 3 axle single decker long rigid public for high capacity trials.
SBS997A arriving Punggol Interchange

SBS997A on Off Service