Now that was fast – just a few days after the first units were spotted, the 3-door Zhongtong N12 has made its debut on NUS service. This is the latest electric ISB model to hit the roads of NUS, and is likely to be the last new model purchased for NUS. There are more than ten buses in this batch, meaning that Zhongtongs will form the majority of electric buses at NUS.

The first unit, PD679G, made its service debut on 22 December 2022, running on service A2. It is seen here heading past Exit B of the Kent Ridge MRT station, a rather underrated spotting location. I quite like this shot.

It would appear that the 3-door Zhongtong N12s are painted in a slightly lighter shade of orange than their 2-door counterparts and the BYD B12s. The colour on PD679G looked a fair bit closer to adless Volvo B9Ls.

The last remaining 2-door Zhongtong N12, PD728Z, has also ended NUS service along with the BYD C9 coach, PC8313P. It’s not clear whether PD728Z will join its 2-door siblings at Sentosa or at NTU.

With the bus on service, we can get a nice good look at the third door area. It’s not quite as spacious as the BYD B12 design in my opinion, but the door is still in plain sight to encourage passengers to move in to the rear. That ledge looks slightly concerning though. A handlebar to seal off the area might be nice, but the rubber lining is a nice touch.

As mentioned previously, the front half of the bus is similar to the 2-door variant, with similar features, but with some changes in layout. The black glass panels now extend all the way to the stanchions surrounding them, the PIS is now in clear glass, and the interior number plate is unobstructed in the centre. The previous article contains a comparison of the two variants.

Additionally, this view shows that the 3-door Zhongtongs are fitted out with a nearly full complement of ISB standard signage just like the BYD B12 – the mask-wearing notice is placed on the driver’s door, and the new NextBus app/Campus Services contact decal is mounted in the window. The only thing missing from this view is the Mystery Rider poster behind the driver – the one for this bus is probably still in some Volvo B9L.

A week later on 27 December, PD679G ran on A1, and five more 3-door N12s joined the fleet as follows:

  • PD533T debuted on Services K and L, replacing PC8313P
  • PD554H debuted on Service A2
  • PD576U debuted on Service A1
  • PD593U debuted on Service BTC
  • PD705P debuted on Service A2

More Zhongtongs were also spotted awaiting debut, such as PD516T and PD696G.

The irony of a fleet of Zhongtongs making up the majority of ComfortDelGro university shuttle buses is not lost on me at all – the previous operator at NTU, Tong Tar, also made heavy use of Zhongtongs, albeit shorter LCK6103G “Sunny” models. I think our N12s, however, look a lot better.

More Zhongtong N12s are expected to join PD679G and the BYD B12s on the roads in the coming weeks, displacing the Volvo B9Ls which have served us well for seven years! Here’s to a happy graduation for the Volvo B9Ls, and hopefully a smooth road ahead for our electric 3-door buses.

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