New Lantao Bus


New Lantao Bus
A New Lantao Bus operating on Route 37.

The New Lantao Bus Company (1973) Limited (新大嶼山巴士(1973)有限公司) – known as New Lantao Bus, or NLB – is a franchised bus company operating in Hong Kong.

Contents

History

NLB was formed in 1973 through the merger of three bus companies operated by residents of Lantau Island, and became the third franchised bus company on 1 April 1974.

In January 1992 NLB became a subsidiary of Kwoon Chung Bus Holdings Limited, a company now partly owned by NWS Holdings Limited, which is also the parent company of Citybus, New World First Bus, and New World First Ferry. All four transport operators are thus associated.

NLB's franchise was extended on 1 April 1997 to run until 31 March 2007.

Before the construction of Tung Chung New Town, almost all of NLB's routes terminated at Mui Wo. During that time – when there were no major towns on the island – most of the company's routes aimed to connect the smaller villages to the ferry at Mui Wo. Currently, however, most routes terminate at Tung Chung and many of those that formerly terminated at Mui Wo have been discontinued.

Coverage

The major service area of the company is Lantau Island, while it is the only bus company in the southern part of the Island. It now operates 11 regular routes, 3 overnight routes, 1 school-day only route, 1 holiday-only route, 1 airport route and 1 special route on Lantau Island, carrying an average of 25,000 passengers daily in 2002.

Most of the routes terminates at Mui Wo and Tung Chung, where there are ferries and MTR respectively to connect the city. Some routes are short-haul routes within the Tung Chung new town. NLB operates a holiday route numbered 1R, running from Hung Hom in Kowloon to Ngong Ping with 8 departures on Sundays and public holidays.

In 2007, the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor opened, providing a 4th road border crossing with mainland China. NLB won the right to operate a cross-border bus route B2, which runs from Yuen Long MTR station to the border checkpoint at Shenzhen Bay.[1]

Major areas serviced by NLB:

See list of bus routes in Hong Kong for the list of NLB routes.

Fleet

The current fleet comprises 78 single-deck buses. A majority of the single-deck buses operated by New Lantao Bus are Japanese-built Isuzu buses with local bodywork.

New Lantao Bus is the only franchise bus operator in Hong Kong operating Isuzu buses. These buses are tailor-made for the rough road conditions on southern part of Lantau Island. Most of the vehicles are like (tourist) coaches rather than the standard buses one would find in an urban area, except for the newer buses in the Tung Chung new town.

All of them are of high floor design, fitted with very powerful engine. Like most buses in Hong Kong, all of them are fitted with air-conditioning system. The air-conditioning system of most buses in Hong Kong is powered by the main engine. But the Isuzu buses of New Lantao Bus are fitted with a separate engine, solely for powering the air-conditioning system. This allows the main engine to operate on its full power when climbing up steep slopes on southern part of Lantau Island.

Riding on these buses is now more comfortable than 30 years ago, but there are still disadvantages about these buses. Most of the seats are arranged in 3+2 configuration, enabling most of the passengers can find a seat on board. But this also makes the corridor narrow and causing difficulties for passengers to alight the bus, especially in intermediate stops. In addition, their high floor design makes the access of wheelchair impossible. They are absolutely not suitable for operating on city bus routes. However, the road conditions on southern part of Lantau Island are too rough and they seemed to be the only possible solution.

After the development of Tung Chung new town in 1998, New Lantao Bus gained operation of an airport bus route A35, connecting Mui Wo in southern part of Lantao Island and the airport in the northern part. New Lantao Bus ordered three specially built Dennis Dart SLF (Handicapped/disabled access) buses from Dennis, England. These buses were fitted with 215hp engine and 6-speed manual transmission, which are very different from the Dennis Darts operating in most part of the world. However, their SLF design was proved to be not suitable to operate in southern part of Lantau Island.

In the mean time, New Lantao Bus also started to operate new bus routes solely serving the northern part of Lantau Island. Isuzu buses, being the main bus model operated by New Lantao Bus at that time, were sent to serve these routes. As the road conditions on the northern part are much better than those on the southern part, the buses can handle these new routes without a single problem mechanically. But their "special" configuration ended up receiving a large number of complaints from the residents, asking New Lantao Bus to send a proper bus on these routes.

New Lantao Bus finally conceded to allocate the Dennis Darts only on the northern part of Lantau Island and ordered some new Isuzu buses to serve the airport route A35. For buses to be used to serve the airport, in order to increase the comfort level, these new Isuzu buses were fitted with luggage racks and the seat configuration was in 2+2, allowing a wider corridor for passenger access. These buses can be seen used on bus route 2 to Ngong Ping and sometimes on route 3M to Tung Chung New Town.

As the number of residents in Tung Chung keep increasing, New Lantao Bus soon found out that the 3 Dennis Darts were not capable to handle the demand of the new routes. New Lantao Bus ordered 9 NL263 (Handicapped/disabled access) 12-metre single-deck buses from MAN, Germany. Also, it acquired 5 second-hand MAN NL262 (Handicapped/disabled access) 12-metre single-deck buses from Citybus. Otherwise, a double-deck MAN 24.310 (Handicapped/disabled access) was borrowed from Kwoon Chung, which serving on route 37 and 38 during the rush hour.

From the middle of March 2006 NLB has now scrapped the last of its Isuzu MT112L buses (ILS45-74) and became a fully air conditioned bus company. These buses will follow the previous model Isuzu MT112K buses (ILS6-44) which were scrapped a year and a half earlier.

Starting from 1 July 2007, it offers one route from Yuen Long to Shenzhen through Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor. This is the first time for this company that both terminals do not reside in Lantau. The company reallocated all its MAN NL263 buses from route 37, 38 to this cross-boundary route. [2]

Current fleet

  • 3 Dennis Dart SLF with Plaxton Pointer bodies (some of them already retired)
  • 6 Volvo B6LE with Jit Luen bodies (some of them already retired)
  • 9 MAN NL263 12-metre single-deck buses
  • 5 MAN NL262 12-metre single-deck buses (second hand)
  • 10 MAN NL273 12-metre single-deck buses
  • 5 MAN A91 single-deck buses
  • 49 MAN A51 single-deck buses
  • 9 Young Man JNP6122G single-deck bus
  • 1 MAN 24.310 with Berkhof body
  • 3 Mitsubishi Fuso Rosa minibuses

Retired fleet

  • Isuzu JCR460 buses (ILS1-5)
  • Isuzu MT112K buses (ILS6-44)
  • Isuzu MT112L buses (ILS45-74)
  • Isuzu LT132
  • Isuzu LT133
  • Isuzu LV423
  • 15 Leyland Victory Mk2 double-deckers
  • 5 Mercedes-Benz coaches
  • 7 Mitsubishi Fuso Rosa minibuses
  • 2 Toyota Coaster minibuses

References

  1. ^ http://www.newlantaobus.com/routing/B2.html B2 route information
  2. ^ http://hk.news.yahoo.com/070622/12/2a2pm.html Yahoo! News (Chinese only). Retrieved on July 2, 2007

See also

External links


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