Tuesday, September 10, 2013

SBS Transit : Volvo B7RLE / Soon Chow (SBS8030L)


This bus is certainly, and one of the most striking public bus bodywork design when it was introduced back in 2007. It's a demonstrator but no production vehicles was brought in.

SBS8030L's left side. At first glance it doesn't look like a low floor bus due to the higher than usual window line.
The bodywork follows Soon Chow Corporation's signature front that are used on its other products, which the front had been described as "fierce" looking. One of the very few times when a modern public bus bodywork is made in Singapore (alongside the Volvo B9TL with ComfortDelgro Engineering bodywork). Even the front paint scheme for the bumper area is unique as well!

A Scania K124IB4X2 bodied by Soon Chow
Duck & Hippo Tours with Soon Chow bodywork.
The Volvo B7RLE - and to date, the only unit to be with a public bus operator. The only other operator who operates the same model is Sentosa Development Corporation.

Sentosa's Volvo B7RLE in private and RU (restricted use) plates plying in various internal shuttles. They are bodied by Liannex and feature slightly shorter bodywork due to Sentosa's tight road network.

SBS8030L is equipped with a Coolair electronic signage, Denso airconditioning and Alcoa rims which was also used on the first batch of Scania K230UB (including SBS8033D).

At the period of time, SBS Transit was probably trying out the low entry vehicles as well, so along with SBS8030L and SBS8033D (a Scania K230UB demonstrator), there was SBS8031J and "SBS8032G" as well - belonging to a MAN 18.240 HOCL-NL and possibly the Mercedes Benz OC500LE, both bodied by Gemilang. SBS8031J is no longer with SBS Transit while "SBS8032G" was never taken in by SBS Transit at all and was sold to Chitson Transport instead.

SBS8033D, still around. But not the front - we'll get to that later.

Ex-SBS8031J, which is now sold to Dnata, in use at Changi Airport.
Although it was never registered, it was speculated that the missing gap "SBS8032G" would eventually be registered for this bus.

Chitson Transport's PA9588S - its one and only registration today and the only OC500LE with city bus specs with a private operator as of today  
So, back on SBS8030L. It is one of the very few single deckers public buses before the introduction of the Mercedes Benz Citaro to have two LED markers at the top front of the bus. And it's the slightly odd bus with a higher than usual passenger window line for a low entry bus, resulting in a straight window line front the front to the back. The driver's window features a black portion underneath to give the illusion that the driver's window is bigger.

The odd feeling to know that it's a low entry bus but the window line doesn't give a hint about it.
Usually, low entry buses have a low floor (deep window line, big windows) and step entry (standard/higher window line, smaller windows) due to the floor line and passenger viewing. Not in this case. To illustrate this, here's SBS8033D in the evening.

Yes, it is SBS8033D with a new front. See the difference between the low floor (just windows) and step entry (with those black things at the bottom of the window)?
And out of all the 4 low entry demonstrator vehicles, it is the only one with no rear windows at all. 



Getting on board the bus, one is immediately greeted by the warmth and comfort of the interior. SBS Transit opted for Vogelsitze's Pino seats with yellow & green PVC seat covers. It's a huge difference as compared to SBS8033D's purple themed interior.

Warm and comfortable interior - one of the more pleasant interiors for a public bus in Singapore.
Purple themed interior on SBS8033D -  a refreshing colour scheme which didn't make it to the production batch.
Not going to touch on SBS8031J and "SBS8032G" because all their interior specifications is nearly identical to the production Scania K230UBs. The brown theme, the red & yellow seat covers and purple poles.

The layout is mostly identical to the Scania K230UB, ex-SBS8031J and presumably "SBS8032G". Side facing seats, 2 wheelchair bays and step entry floor space with forward facing seats.

The front wheel arches of SBS8030L has two forward facing seats, something that was lacking in the K230UB Euro IVs (batch 1) and only one seat on the right wheelarch (batch 2) until the introduction of the Euro V variants.

Right after the left wheel arch, there's 4 side facing seats. Why the side facing seats? Easier accessibility for elderly, disabled and pregnant passengers and allows for a larger space at the front half of the low floor area. Think the MRT layout and its side facing seats.

Green priority seats. The higher than usual window line can be seen here, usually that window line will be touching the seat handles.
2 wheelchair bays for passengers in wheelchair, opposite the priority seats.
How the aircon ducting looks
The wheelchair access ramp at the exit door.
The door closing, and some aircon outlets that most passengers will never be able to reach and adjust unless they have a ladder.
Right after exit door, it would usually be the steps leading up to the rear half of the bus. Nope.

There's a small standee space right after the exit doors. For those MRT style "near the exit door for quick alighting" passengers?
Up the steps to the rear half, it's all standard forward facing seats....well, until you get the the very rear.

Towards the rear, and another two steps to the rearmost seats.
It feels like the bus is divided into 3 sections - low floor, standard entry floor and a special floor area with some special seating arrangements going on.

One of the very unique points about this bus - the rear row of seats. It feels like a lounge area, "let's put a table, play a card game and have some drinks". Oh and don't mind the Volvo badging with a missing 'V'.
Comfortable couch anyone?
This also explains the exterior large black patch at the last left and right side windows.
It's almost a 5 years old bus as of post date, and it still feels pretty comfortable to ride on and has a very unique look. If there's production vehicles brought in, it may not feature this Soon Chow bodywork at all. 

SBS8030L, Something unique to look at out of all the public buses being operated in Singapore.

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