Thursday, February 20, 2014

SBS Transit : Volvo B9TL/ Gemilang (SBS7777Y)

5 times 7
Possibly one of the most unique demonstrator registration plate given to a bus - SBS7777Y breaks two "traditions" of sorts. One, no auspicious links to the digit 3 or 8 in the Chinese auspicious culture since the introduction of wheelchair accessible buses, and two, the first Volvo B9TL 100% low floor bus to be registered (back) in the 7000 series registration plate, which were allocated for the low entry ComfortDelgro Engineering & Wright Eclipse Gemini II bodied Volvo B9TL.

There are registration plates where the 4 numbers are of the same digits registered for the new generation low entry/low floor SBS buses - but they are not demonstrator buses.

SBS3333X. Not a demo.

SBS6666R. Not a demo either.
SBS8888D - the only Euro IV K230UB in the entire SBS fleet with an 888X series registration plate (which that series later became the Euro V batch of buses). Nope, not a demo too.
And as of date, only SBS6666R managed to be deployed on the same number service 66 like how SBS7777Y is deployed on service 7 for its first service.

The bus is bodied by Gemilang and is configured to be a 100% low floor bus like its Wright bodied cousin, and the guesses that the registration was to be SBS3888L (3000 series low floor bus, 888 for auspiciousness). It didn't happen, and this is a very wild speculation of what might have happened (some food for thought).....

Maybe....? SMB388S, SBS3888L. A tad too similar? High capacity bus bodied by Gemilang too. Hmmm.....
This bus is a MAN NG363F also bodied by Gemilang, marketed by MAN as a Lion's City GL bus. We may never know.

And a bit more history on the fleet of Volvo B9TL to date.

Euro 3 Volvo B9TL, low entry configuration, Comfort Delgro Engineering bodywork (first wheelchair accessible public bus)
SBS7500D, first Wright bodied Volvo B9TL Euro 5, low entry configuration.
And probably/maybe because of the introduction of SMRT's 100% low floor MAN NL323F A22 buses, the batch of Wrights became low floor.

SBS3000 series Wright bodied Volvo B9TL Euro 5, 100% low floor.
And a slightly updated version of the 100% low floor Wright bodied configuration later on - the rear view mirrors are electronically operated, the emergency exit window stickers were changed from translucent/red wording to green stickers with white lettering. The door systems were also updated to the kind that you have to twist and pull the knob to release pressure in an emergency.

Back on the SBS7777Y, this is the same B9TL Euro 5 spec chassis but with a different bodywork, designed by Gemilang Coachworks of Malaysia and it is based off an earlier bodywork (and their first in-house double decker bodywork) on a Scania K310UD for SBS Transit.

This was what SBS7777Y's bodywork design is based off - and yes, the Gemilang bodywork design is very unique for SBS7888K!
No mistaking of SBS7777Y with SBS7888K!
The front bumper and bottom half - it sees the introduction of a new feature that's sort of present on the Wright bodywork (though apparently configured to be part of the headlamps set rather than standalone - the Daytime Running Lamps). Those 5 dots on both left and right side that's lighted up.

Even though SBS7777Y's general bodywork style/design language was based off SBS7888K's, it has its own distinct identity and design language that sets it apart from SBS7888K. The front styling, including the bottom half is based off SBS7888K, but instead of grey, it's white. And it has that subtle Volvo slash that gives the bus its awesome character. The whole bus at first glance from the front gives a very premium feel to anyone who sees it.

There are changes to its headlamps design, the way the lamps are shaped and spaced out. It's also probably the first public bus in recent history that sees the orange indicator lights so close to the windscreen.
SBS7888K's rear.
The design language that they kept off SBS7888K's rear is that epic black area that is pretty stunning, and the rear tail lamp area - though lacking in some visual impact as compared to SBS7888K. .
And as compared to the Wright or ComfortDelgro bodied B9TLs, this is also the first B9TL to have many badging for the front, side and rear (!) - including the first ever model badge at the rear (B9TL Euro 5)! Though originally the rear did not come with any badging and there was no space to put a white SBS Transit logo, so probably the badging is to give it some visual appeal against a plain and frankly not so striking rear....?

Add the awkward looking grille at the engine cover, and the awkwardly painted red colour at the tail lamp area (it was originally unpainted), it doesn't look particularly attractive. Though the engine grille cover is shaped that way for the B9TL's engine to vent its heat out more efficiently (?).

The driver's cab is pretty standard, probably following the Wright styling.

The driver's dashboard & controls

The CCTV monitor & LECIP electronic signage controller - with a light for the driver.
Now on to the interior, the general layout for the three bodywork variant of Volvo B9TL is about the same.

Lower deck of the ComfortDelgro Engineering bodied Volvo B9TL, low entry

The layout is the same as the ComfortDelgro Engineering bodied B9TL.

No your eyes aren't playing tricks, this isn't a duplicate photo. It's the 100% low floor configuration (with two pairs of side facing seats brought to face front and placed at the low floor area, while the footrest area for those two seats became the area for mounting of the seats.
And enter SBS7777Y's lower deck. Deja vu? The air conditioning system is supplied by Denso by the way.

You'd be forgiven to believe this is a Wright bodied Volvo B9TL at first glance - but there's subtle differences that makes it different from the Wright bodied buses such as the grab poles layout and design.
Fast forward the upper decks, layout's about the same as well -

Upper deck of ComfortDelgro Engineering body B9TL

Upper deck of Wright body B9TL

You'd be forgive if you mistook this as a Wright bodied B9TL upper deck as well at first glance, though there's an additional pair of seats added (like the lower deck) to give a total of 57 seats instead of 55 seats..
It's not too surprising that the Gemilang bodied Volvo B9TL's interior is based off the Wright bodied Volvo B9TL - SBS Transit would probably be also wanting for passengers to have a consistent experience on their buses while travelling.

But even though it is based off the Wright bodied interior, it has its own distinct characteristics that set it apart from many other buses.

SBS7777Y & Volvo for life! Along with a cool bus captain!
Again, forgiven if you mistook this as a Wright bodied B9TL at first glance :P
Those grey poles thing at the entrance & exit doors also made it to the Gemilang design, though it is of a different design. And speaking of the doors, they are SMC Transit door systems.

The seats are supplied by Ster, called the New City, instead of the usual Vogelsitze System750 seats.

Instead of individual seat frames mounted to the side for the priority seats, the seats are attached on an island mould as one unit. 
And that unit is moulded with the wheel arch cover for the front left wheel.
The wheelchair bay & standee area - the backing for the cushion is not black and glossy like the Wright bodied design, instead it is a matt finish and is of a light shade of brown.

Also to note is that there is an extra pair of seats (one on each side) of the side facing seats above the second axle to make up four side facing seats. On the 100% low floor Wright bodied B9TL, this would have been a 3 side facing seats configuration above each wheel.

And the rear half of the bus - and yes, there's only four individually mounted seats on the lower deck, the rest are on the islands as part of the bus interior configuration.
Maybe it's to give the bus a more integrated feel by having the seats on the island moulds instead of individual seat frames.  Those grab poles replaces the missing seat handles that are used by passengers.
And moving on to upper deck.

The staircase.

In case someone falls while going downwards, there's a grey cushion mounted there to soften the impact.

This is how it looks like from the back to front.

The Ster New City seats.

The rear window feels very Alexander Dennis Enviro-inspired....
And this is how the front looks.
Something that is unique here is the pair of poles at the front - usually there is only one pole across the front upper deck's windscreen for most of SBS Transit's double deck buses. Not sure why though.

Double poles.

And as for the ride - it's about the same as the other Voith gearbox Volvo B9TL buses, just the interior aesthetics are different.

The first Gemilang bodied citybus & the latest Gemilang bodied citybus for SBS Transit.
Meeting its Wright bodied cousin
When it was doing its test run/driver familiarisation.
That paper on the bus door says "Do not move this bus". The irony is, it's being moved.
The rear - the black aircon grille is more easily seen here.
The rear and right side - shiny Alcoa rims now take the stage.
In conclusion - This bus looks awesome at the front & side - that front lower half really gives that premium feel for the bus, something like how the Mercedes Benz Citaro does with its design. Interior feels pretty good too. The front with the Volvo slash is very subtle & striking, with the off centre Volvo badge below the driver's cab area catches the eye too!

That premium feel.....

The same can't really be said for the rear design.

The rear is rather plain at best, and without the badging and the extra red paint on the tail lamp area, it'll be having less visual impact on the roads.
 Overall, wow. Gemilang's design for this bus is pretty good!