After being mothballed for an entire semester, our third-generation ISBs, the Scania K230UBs, have unexpectedly returned to service. This article covers the recent history of the buses from 2020.
By early 2020, our three remaining Scania buses PA9558D, PA9772B and PA9779H were still in use and nearing ten years of age. They were used mainly as last-resort spares, peak-hour scheduled fleet adds and often A2E buses.
Going into 2020, I recall PA9558D had a fully working EDS, while PA9772B had the side EDS malfunctioning and PA9779H was fully analogue.
Following a series of mishaps (including, apparently, someone formatting the data drive by mistake) and general wear and tear, all three Scanias soon became unable to display anything on the front and side by March.
PA9558D is seen in this photo on A2E right before the circuit breaker, using an assortment of old A2E signage.
PA9772B, meanwhile, is seen here on B2 with the EDS displaying “Off Service”.
PA9779H had not been seen on service since end-2019 when it had to be deployed on D1.
During the circuit breaker period, ISB frequencies were cut. With fewer trips, I wonder if the Scanias ever made any appearances – but because of the nature of the circuit breaker, it wouldn’t be possible to confirm.
During the zoning semester, fewer buses were used overall, corresponding to fewer bus journeys being made. ISB routes were suspended and replaced by a different set of zoned routes with their own schedule. As a result, by the middle of the semester all three Scania buses were parked up in a corner of Carpark 11 in varying states of sunken suspension. I suppose their EDS was never programmed to include the zoned routes – they would have had to repair them first.
PA9558D was the only bus kept in usable condition, however – PA9772B and PA9779H were observed with many drivers’ belongings hung up neatly around the bus. It seems that they were adopted as makeshift drivers’ lounges or storage space. Repurposing buses as lounges or storerooms is actually a very common practice for bus companies worldwide, although this is usually done with buses that are no longer driveable.
After zoning ended and the original routes were restored, I was not sure if the Scanias would make a return, as I didn’t know if there would still be a need to run special added trips during the peak hours. It seemed likely as the pre-circuit breaker schedule was being restored, but the condition I’d seen PA9772B and PA9779H in gave me doubts.
On the very first day of school, I was informed by a fellow enthusiast at 9.50am that PA9558D was spotted emerging from UTown on D2. As it turns out, the bus was reprising its role as the peak hour D2 fleet add to carry students from Kent Ridge MRT to UTown, though it was soon replaced by PC3947T.
PA9772B emerged soon after – this time running the Direct Lunch Shuttle, as the third bus to perform this service after PC3925G (a Volvo B9L without working EDS) and PC5140R (a large blue coach). It was not driven by a current ISB driver, however, but the driver of the blue coach – actually an ISB old hand.
PA9779H has yet to be seen, and I’m not sure when it will return to service – a small plant was growing out of its rear door at Carpark 11 – but maybe it will return soon.
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