Electric bus operations on the ISB network have officially begun! Since 1 August 22, two electric buses were officially deployed to the ISB network. As they were initially deployed to Service BTC, the announcement was made via a poster placed at Bukit Timah Campus, which also served to reassure passengers that these buses — of coach design — were on a temporary deployment and that the future all-new electric ISBs will be wheelchair-accessible.

While an electric coach has been trialled on campus before by the CDG-NUS Living Lab – in fact, it is indeed one of the two running now – that trial was on a smaller scale, with the bus being deployed outside the ISB operations and running its own, short schedule. With two electric buses on regular, scheduled duties and driven by ISB drivers, this marks the start of a truly electric ISB network. What’s new here is that the e-buses are now in the official roster, and rostering and maintaining electric buses is very different from diesel buses.

After all, electric buses do not need to take a break from ISB duty in the middle of the day to refuel – but they do need to be parked at a charging point to charge overnight. This has implications on scheduling and rostering, and is something that the bus operator must get familiar with for the future. The current deployment, ahead of the debut of wheelchair-accessible new ISBs, also comes as an opportunity to familiarise more drivers with electric bus operation.

Both electric coaches have been modified to bring them in line with ISB specifications as much as possible to help start electric ISB operations. Since they are operating the scheduled trips of Service BTC, they are visible in the NUS NextBus app. The two buses are also equipped with EDS that displays the ISB routes, while their wraps also indicate that they are NUS buses.

On the inside, the buses are fitted out next-stop announcements, bells, and a full complement of ISB standard signage – you can even rate your ride under the Mystery Rider programme, as the buses are compatible with the e-form.

As earlier mentioned, the Living Lab e-coach is now deployed to Service BTC. Registered PC8313P, this is a BYD C9 with an integral BYD body.

The other e-coach to debut on Service BTC is a BYD C8 registered PC9768D. Fresh out of a previous trial, it has a Malaysian Pioneer body.

While the two electric vehicles made their debut on Service BTC, they were redeployed from 22 August in response to BTC passenger loading. PC8313P was redeployed to Service K, with two doors helping to clear crowds somewhat.

Meanwhile, PC9768D was redeployed to Service E, where its single door did not affect dwell time significantly.

As we continue to await the future fleet of electric, wheelchair-accessible ISBs, let’s hope that these electric coaches can help NUS and ComfortDelGro kick off electric ISB operations well!

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