Kowloon Motor Bus fleet details
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In 1983, Kowloon Motor Bus Co. found that their Albion EVK55 coaches had begun to grow old. They first decided to replace them with double-deck coaches. However, the headroom of the departure level of Kai Tak Airport was only 3.5m, preventing the implementation of such a proposal.
in 1984, the company ordered 20 Dennis Falcon HCs. The paragraphs below were extracted from KMB's Annual Report and Accounts 1984. It clearly stated the reasons and characteristics.
"The 20 airport foaches are completely new. The 11.3 metre chassis is a Dennis Falcon HC which has a rear-mounted, underfloor horizontal engine that is turbocharged. The engine, gearbox and most of the other mechanical units are similar to those we already have in use and for which we carry spare parts - a material advantage. The body will be the very attractive Duple Laser modified to permit construction in Hong Kong. It will have a special low floor to allow easy access for passengers and luggage. All the coaches will be fully air-conditioned by Sutrak of west Germany with a system already in extensive use throughout the world.
"Careful attention is being given to the interior finish of the coach so that it is attractive and comfortable, and the power of the engine is higher than usual to provide acceleration and good hill-climbing, but without increasing maximum road speed. These luxury coaches will set a new and very high standard both for the company and Hong Kong."
Yes, they produced a very good image to Kowloon Motor Bus and Hong Kong. It meant the beginning of high quality bus service. The buses were painted in a white livery, with a narrow red waist band and pale grey skirt. Matt black colour surrounded the rubber window gaskets, plus fixed glass windows were tinted in deep brwon, give people an impression of modernity. This colour scheme have been used in non-SLF air-conditioned buses of the company.
Another innovation of these buses was that it had bilingual taped announcements over the public address system to inform passengers the next stop.
At first, KMB intended the seating layout would be 49 high-backed seats. However, owing to the luggage access problem arisen soon after the commencement of service, luggage racks replaced the first row of seats several months later.
All these buses were deployed to Airport Routes and redesignated DF1-20. Since the bus DH1700 was withdrawn after a fire on 9 January, 1989, plus the rapid growth of air-conditioned buses, KMB redesignated them AF1-19 in May 1991.
In 1994, when Darts and Lances arrived Hong Kong and started their airport service, the interior layouts of Falcons had then been changed and were deployed to a newly established route - 203E. The renovation included the removal of luggage rack and 20 seats and installation of 16 side to side seats. The alteration changed the passenger capacity from C45F to DP41F+11. These buses ran smooth until they were scrapped by late 2000.
When the buses served Airbus routes, they did not need to climb hills. When they were deployed to Route 203E, it showed off its good climbing ability to its Fu Shan Terminus. But their good climbing ability was best demonstrated through the sloped and curved Po Lam Road to and fro Junk Bay Depot.
Drawbacks include noisy interior. It was as noisy as Cummins M11 powered Tridents and Dragons. Since the buses were introduced in 1985, bus operators or manufacturers did not pay much attention to the required cooling load of air-conditioned buses in Hong Kong. The Sutrak air-conditioner became underpowered when the bus was fully laden. The Absence of Madsen outlets to the rows at the back worsened the situation. On the other hand, the single door and high floor give access problems. A driver complained that she had to open the door three times at one stop to let several passengers get off the crowded bus.
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Page created: 7 July 1999
Last updated: 11 September 2011