It is Singapore's most environmentally friendly public bus. It is also the friendliest to the elderly and disabled - being able to ferry two wheelchair-bound passengers at any one time. And to top it all off, it is also one of the safest - boasting an advanced braking system which helps to minimise on-board accidents.
SBS Transit's newest buses, which will hit the roads from 1 November 2007, have been designed to not only cater to the needs of a broader spectrum of commuters but also to do its part for the environment.
Built at a cost of $180 million, the 500 single-deck buses boast environmentally friendly Euro IV engines which emit fewer harmful particulates into the atmosphere. In addition, exhaust gas re-circulation technology is employed to cleanse the fumes that are emitted. The buses are also made with special high tensile, lightweight material, and equipped with six-speed ZF automatic transmission to improve fuel efficiency.
Elderly- and handicapped-friendly:
The new single-deck buses are able to accommodate two passengers in wheelchairs at any one time. Large sections of the buses located behind the driver's seat have been allocated for wheelchair passengers. When no wheelchair-bound passenger is on board, this area is able to accommodate 16 standing passengers.
The new buses are also low-floor and zero-stepped. This means that the elderly and other less mobile passengers will be able to board and alight easily. This is especially important given Singapore's ageing population. In fact, all new SBS Transit buses going forward will be low-floor and zero-stepped to cater to the needs of the elderly commuter.
The zero-step design means that the new buses are now more spacious, offering extra headroom space of between 100mm and 600mm. The height at the entrance is also significantly higher at 2.6 metres, compared to 2.0 metres currently.
There is however a drawback to the design of the zero-step, single-deck bus - its engine location. Because of the low front, the engine has to be housed at the rear, meaning that the back of the bus needs to be raised. This then means that steps have to be installed midway through the bus. To minimise the incidence of falls on board the bus as a result of the steps, SBS Transit is embarking on an educational programme starting with schools to alert students of the need to be extra careful when moving to the rear. The elderly will also be advised to stay at the front end of the bus to minimise the probability of falls.
The new buses will offer commuters more legroom - between 275 mm and 340mm as compared to the 250mm space that is available on the existing single-deck buses. This design feature has been added after taking into account feedback from commuters.
Special braking features:
With the new SBS Transit single-deck buses, public buses in Singapore will boast the industry's first advanced braking system which becomes engaged whenever the entrance or exit doors are opened. This will help in ensuring that commuters board and alight the buses safely and quickly.
Bus Captain comfort:
Bus Captains can look forward to a more comfortable driving experience with a fully adjustable steering column and strategically placed switches and gauges which help to reduce driver fatigue thus improving safety and productivity. Hanging brake and accelerator pedals which are similar to those used in passenger cars are also part of the new design.
The new single-deck buses were launched by Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister of State for Finance and Transport, at SBS Transit's East District headquarters in Ang Mo Kio last week. "I am glad that SBS Transit is taking proactive steps towards meeting the target of having 40 percent of total bus fleet wheelchair-accessible by 2010. These new buses, with their low floors, will greatly assist the elderly and wheelchair-bound in their daily travel."
Wheelchair user, Ms Tan Guek Hwa, was delighted to learn of impending plans to launch a dual wheelchair WAB service. The 50-year-old administrative assistant said: "When I go out with my friend who is also a wheelchair user, we have to arrange to meet at the venue since there is no way for the two of us to take the bus together. With this new bus, I can actually enjoy the journey together with her. I am so happy. It will be a completely new experience for us! I am happy to be living in Singapore where we are given this opportunity!"
SBS Transit Chief Operating Officer, Mr Gan Juay Kiat, said: "We are pleased to introduce a new generation of single-deck buses that will provide greater comfort for our passengers. Commuters can look forward to more of these new buses coming up in the next few years and we hope that they will like them."