猛獅NL系 MAN NL Series
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When started to serve the resident in Discovery Bay, the fleet of DBTSL was composed of Japanese products with only small proportion of full-sized single decker. The first European bus was arrived in 1995, the Mercedes Benz O405 can carry almost 100 passengers, to cater the demand of between ferry pier and residential area. Instead of Benz, DBTSL then introduced more and more European buses liked MAN from Germany and Dennis from UK. As preparation for the operation of Discovery Bay Tunnel, a batch of 5 MAN NL262 were ordered for the external service between the community and Tung Chung.
NL262 was not new thing to Hong Kong in 2000, backed in 1998, City Bus already acquired 60 samples for networks expansion and further 20 were introduced in 2000. For the MAN NL262 ordered by DBTSL, as they served relatively long-distanced service and different passengers flow with urban area routes, more seats are offered and only single door as both entrance and exit. To go one step further, for the need of placing personal belongings, luggage rack is provided. All MAN NL262s powered by MAN engine with ZF fully automatic gearbox in contrast with Voith fitted on City Bus NL262. The compartment is air conditioned by Sutrak from Germany.
The mode of transportation changed in Discovery Bay after the opening of Discovery Bay Tunnel. More and more residents changed from ferry to external bus service to and from the community and as a result, a pair of MAN NL263, bodied by Caetano from Portugal and complied with the Euro 3 emission standard, were entered service to cater the demand in 2001, just after the introduction of same type by NHKB. NL263 is the successor of NL262 and awarded the Bus of the Year 1999 in Oct., 1998. It should not be a surprise for a MAN engine fitted and with a ZF fully automatic transmission and suitable for running the highways. MAN NL263 is the first super low floor bus provided wheelchair parking bay in DBTSL fleet and liked the NL262, only one doorway fitted and a luggage rack is provided within the cabin. A further 5 NL263s were delivered in 2002 and two of them was fitted with dual-doors bodywork for internal service and Voith gearbox was chosen.
HK Disneyland was opened in 2005 and MTR operated Disneyland Resort Line for linking the park and Sunny Bay together with an addition stop for Tung Chung Line. DB03R was opened as a result of providing feeder service between Discovery Bay and Sunny Bay Station. DBTSL acquired more buses for this new route and 5 second-hand MAN NL262 were acquired from City Bus. The mechanical specification of this batch of NL262 almost identical with the first hand NL262 unless Voith transmission fitted. Moreover, dual-doors bodywork fitted on these NL262s and this is the most distinguishable difference between two batches of NL262. One of the NL262 from City Bus (JM1951) was classed as HKR115 and this fleet number was previously on a first hand NL262(JL6489), however, this former HKR115 was involved in an serious accident and written off afterwards in 2005.
As the continuously growing demand, further new buses were ordered by DBTSL after the commission of the NL262 from City Bus. This purchasing order consisted of 5 brand new MAN NL263, the very last sample of NL263 in Hong Kong, bodied by Gemilang from Malaysia and delivered in 2007. This batch of NL263 featured with Voith fully automatic transmission and Carrier-Sutrak air-conditioning.
The successor of NL263, NL273 also can be seen in the DBTSL fleet. As a replacement after the withdrawal of the Mercedes Benz O814 minibuses, two MAN NL273s were acquired in early 2009 and the carrying capacity can be increased at the same time. The obvious difference between NL273 and NL263 is the former fulfilled Euro 4 emission standard. Though they were bodied by Gemilang, a new frontal design was chosen. 3 more NL273s were introduced in end of 2009 to cope with the development of DB North.
Finally, the fourth model of the MAN NL series appeared in DBTSL, the MAN NL323. The first NL323 was arrived at Discovery Bay in 2010 and the third Mercedes Benz O405 DBAY120 commissioned in 1997 was then retired. This NL323 also carried the same fleet number. It is hard to tell this is a NL323 instead of NL273 as the they shared the same bodywork design from Gemilang. An addition NL323 was ordered and delivered in 2011 as a result of the withdrawal of DBAY107, a MAN NL262 new in 2001.
The livery and fleet number on those NL262 and Caetano bodied NL263 already changed to cope with the new image of Discovery Bay. Except the two retired MAN NL262 mentioned above, the remaining MAN NL series fleet still active in Discovery Bay.
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