丹尼士長矛 Dennis Lance

編號 Class:AN,901-910(龍運巴士,Long Win Bus)

單層巴士對於香港的巴士營運商來說,是一個複雜的課題。在客量低路線上使用單層巴士,可以控制成本及把有限資源調撥到其他更有需要路線;在路程短而客量又多的路線,由於乘客都不願意到上層尋找座位,所以這些路線安排單層巴士行走,尤其大型單層巴士,可以加快乘客上落速度,從而令行車時間得以縮短而令班次可以更為頻密。可惜,現實是,面對車隊限額,巴士公司不得不引進大容量雙層巴士,令到單層巴士發展受到局限,而在地區議會及乘客角度,他們要求是班次密而且可以有位可坐的巴士服務,這對發展單層巴士服務受到極大限制。

丹尼士在一九九二年向九巴提供二十四架長矛單層巴士底盤,是繼一九八五年同廠的大型單層空調巴士獵鷹後,第二款大型單層巴士打進本地巿場。對比獵鷹,長矛提供一個更加低矮的登車地台,只設一個梯級,而當丹尼士首款大型單層低地台巴士,亦是源自長矛。同時,長矛的底盤設計亦給予了工程師靈感,去設計出車廠第一款三軸低地台雙層巴士─三叉戟。當年九巴希望把這些大型單層巴士,投放於彌敦道穿梭路線,運作模式就像地下鐵路一樣,加強巴士運作效率,提供班次頻密,車程快捷的服務。另一方面,十二架長矛則被安排投放到機場路線,接替前輩獵鷹,為到港旅客提供服務。可惜,就如前述,區議會對於部份路線由雙層巴士換成單層巴士行走,表示反對,而乘客亦不願由以往一程巴士到達目的地變成要轉車,加上由於彌敦道走廊路線客量實在太高,單層巴士在繁忙時間便顯得力有不逮,故此,有關計劃最終未有實行。

全數二十四架長矛均配上亞歷山大的PS型車身,空調系統跟同門飛鏢一樣,由德國超卓提供,除了一架機場版樣板車(AN11)是於英國亞歷山大完成車身裝嵌,其餘二十三架都是九巴於屯門裝嵌廠完成車身裝配工作。首十二架(AN1-10,12及13)全數配用雙門巴士版車身,提供四十五人座位及三十三人企位,而前門更打破傳統,是一道寬闊的前門,配合低矮地台,雖然仍有一級梯級,但對於加快客上落時間及有速度有顯著幫助。另外十一架新車(AN14-24)則配用單門客車版車身,在裝上行李架及高背絲絨坐位,用作擴充及更新機場巴士車隊。首批新車於一九九三年五月至七月陸續領牌後,巴士版新車被安排接替當年向雅高租用的日野巴士,行走30X及238X至於單門版機場巴士,投入服務後迅即安排到啟機場路線,直到啟德機場於一九九八年七月五日關閉為止。就在長矛巴士投入服務不久,空調巴士日漸受到巿民歡迎,而為了滿足需求,九巴集中資源引進更多雙層空調巴士,未有再購入任何大型單層巴士,直到零九年引進瑞典Scania產品為止。

在往後時間,因應客量增加,雙門版長矛先後從30X及238X抽調出來,當中兩架長矛改為行走隧道路線110少部份則於稍後時間被安排行走203E以及其後的224M。而更多的長矛更陸續被調往新界北區,行走78K,273,273A及278K等等的短途接駁線,這亦是長矛被認為最適合服務的路線。至於單門版的長矛,在啟德機場於一九九八年關閉後,當中十架(AN14,15及17-24)於同年九月開始陸續被轉往子公司龍運巴士,編號為901-910(初期編號為LW136-145),行走客量低的機場接駁路線,但縱然全數長矛都是行走機場接駁路線,原先的行李架卻被拆除,而且未有裝回座位,更令人不明所以是,有關位置嚴禁擺放行李。二零零三年,908再度轉回九巴,並重用本身的編號AN23。

隨著東涌及機場路線客量日漸增多,長矛開始不能應付,加上車齡漸高及故障頻頻,所以龍運巴士由二零零七年開始陸續把隊中的長矛淘汰,直到二零零九年十一月,只餘下907及910兩架長矛行走迪士尼路線R8,員工巴士及後備車。至於九巴,長矛巴士亦由二零一零年五月開始陸續退役,在退役前主要行走北區區內鐵路接駁路線。為紀念這款曾服務本港兩機場的車型,九巴於二一零年六月向傳媒召開記者招待會,宣佈到了十月所有長矛巴士便會從車隊中退下。在九巴再次大量引進大型單層巴士時,這批九巴中大型單層巴士先驅,仍然充分發揮出它們應有的功能,直到二零一零年八月二十九日,龍運的長矛正式全數退役,而九巴的長矛亦於十月告別載客車隊,所扮演角色由全新大型低地台巴士取代。

It is a complicated issue for the using of full-size single decker in Hong Kong. Bus operators tend to deploy single decker buses on low demand routes to maintain a low operating cost and maximize the use of limited resources. In addition, full-size single decker suitable for some short-distanced but frequent loading with a large passengers flows as they are not willing to the upper-deck. The frequency and the journey can be benefited. However, as restriction on the number of fleet imposed by the Transport Department, together with the objection from local authority and passengers, the development of the use of full-size single decker was limited.

After the commissioned of the Dennis Falcon in 1985, Dennis supplied KMB with 24 Dennis Lance in 1992 and to be the second full-size single decker in Hong Kong. Dennis Lance offered commuters a relatively low one-step entrance compared with Falcon. In fact, the first full-size super low floor bus model offered by Dennis was developed from Lance and then further into the first 3-axles super low floor double decker Trident. KMB planned to provide a frequent and rapid service alongside Nathan Road with full-size single decker. This plan soon were turned down by different District Council as they required KMB allocated double decker on those trunk routes. To go one step further, the full-size single decker cannot suit the heavy demand of the route serving the Nathan Road Corridor.

All Dennis Lances are bodied by Walter Alexander and the air-conditioning unit as same as the Darts supplied by Sutrak from Germany. Except the demonstrator (AN11) received it PS-type bodywork at Falkirk in Scotland, all Dennis Lance completed their bodyworks locally. The first 12 (AN1-10, 12 and 13) are fitted with dual-door bodyworks with 45 seatings plus 33 standees. The wide entrance is first chosen on Dennis Lance to facilitate the flow of passengers. Airport coach configuration was chosen on the remaining Lances with single doorway for expand and upgrade the fleet of Kai Tak Airport routes. All Lances registered between May and Jul., 1993. Bus version Lance were deployed on 30X and 238X replacing Hino coaches hired from Argos Bus. Coach version Lances were then put on Kai Tak Airport route taking the place of Falcon until the closure of Kai Tak Airport. Afterwards, air-con bus services widely accepted by the public and KMB introduced double decker air-con buses to meet the demand. The development of full-size single decker was suspended until 2009 when KMB introduced full-size single decker again.

As passengers growth, KMB started to withdraw Dennis Lance from 30X and 238X. Two of them were then deployed on cross-harbour route 110 while some found their new home in 203E and 224M. Since 1996, Dennis Lance started to work on Northern New Territories routes like 78K, 273, 273A and 278K. While those withdrawn from Airbus service, 10 of them (AN14, 15 and 17-24) were transferred to Long Wing Bus (901-910, previously LWB136-145), the subsidiary company of KMB Group, for the use of airport shuttle routes. The original luggage rack for the airport route was removed and a "no luggage" notice was stuck instead of any seats fitted onto the original position. In 2003, 908 was transferred back to KMB and fleet no. AN23 was used again.

In 2007, LWB started to dispose the aging Dennis Lance and until Nov., 2009, only 907 and 910 left in the fleet for route R8, staff bus and reserve purpose. Since May, 2010, the KMB Lance started to withdraw from the fleet and before their withdrawal, they were mainly deployed on feeder service linked with railway station in Northern New Territories. To commemorate Dennis Lance serving Kai Tak and Chek Lap Kok Airport (The Hong Kong International Airport), KMB held a press conference and told the public all Dennis Lance would be retired in Oct., 2010.

The Last LWB Dennis Lance delicensed on 29, Aug., 2010 while the last sample for KMB, decommision in Oct. 2010. The role that Dennis Lance played then replaced by the newer full-sized super low floor single decker.


KMB

LWB


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