猛獅NL263 MAN NL263

編號 Class:1-10,13,24-25

隨著中港交往日益頻繁,陸路口岸交通需求變得更為強大,落馬洲的過境穿梭巴士服務受惠於這個現象,每日都客似雲來,過境人士往往在繁忙時間,需花上兩小時候車都變成常事。新香港巴士意識到單靠十架丹尼士飛鏢中型巴士,確實難以應付日益增長的客量。雖然從其他營運商長期借用兩架,配本地黃明車身的日野旅遊巴士,但由於採取單門設計,面對大上大落及路程短的環境,顯然不是最佳選擇。另外,日野旅遊巴士還有一個缺點,高地台設計令上落都需要攀登梯級,為簽a行李的遊客帶來不便。

一九九八年城巴從德國猛獅引進了NL262大型單層低地台巴士,並且取得不錯的成績,而德國大型單層低地台巴士亦於三年之後,落藉於落馬洲穿梭巴士線。新香港巴士向德國猛獅購入十架NL263大型單層低地台巴士,成為本港其中一家最先採用NL263的用家。對比英國中型單層巴士,猛獅NL263的確有不少優勝之處,首先長近十二米車身及低地台設計,總共可運載八十一位乘客,當中又以企位為主,雖然只有二十一名乘客有位可坐,不過在這路程短的穿梭服務而言,更能切合營運需要。其次,NL263採用雙門車身設計,配合無梯級出入口,大大加快乘客上落所需時間,營運效率從而得到了提升。最後,NL263配備了當時最環保的歐盟三型引擎,在排放方面較飛鏢更勝一籌。

整體械配搭方面,引擎沿用猛獅自家產品,而全自動波箱則採用福伊特出品,由主引擎驅動的空調系統來自開利超卓,雙門設計車身方面則是首次在港出現,來自葡萄牙的Caetano設計及裝配。猛獅NL263亦跟當時的新巴士一樣,裝有電子路線牌箱。首批五架新車於二零零一年九月抵港,並迅即進行新車型所需的測試,最終在國慶假期前夕投入服務,大大紓緩了穿梭巴士於這個過境高峰期內的壓力。而首批排在隊末五架的NL263亦於二零零一年年底至二零零二年初投入服務。全數猛獅NL263投入服務之初編號為11-20,緊接著原有丹尼士飛鏢,但大約一年之後兩者車隊編號互相對調。

自NL263投入服務後,新香港巴士肯定了大型單層巴士能夠在落馬洲穿梭巴士擔當重任,往後時間增購巴士加強服務時,再沒有任何中型單層巴士出現於購車名單上。 踏入二零零六年,為數三架配用馬來西亞順豐車身的NL263加入新香港巴士,分別用作加強服務及取代因交通意外退役的飛鏢GL8510。配順豐車身的NL263總載客量較Caetano車身的兄弟多出四人,成為新香港巴士中運載能力最高的車款,而車廂設計仍然維持多企位作原則。在機械配置上,則跟Caetano車身的NL263一樣。

經歷過十二年的服務生涯,首批五架NL263於二零一三年初進行車廂改裝工程,主要增加十個座位,同時減少企位數目,令總載客量減少至五十五人。不過在完成有關工程之後不久,這五架猛獅便退役,由全新的猛獅NL323接棒,至於餘下八架NL263則仍然活躍於過境穿梭服務。

Demand for shuttle bus service between Huanggang increased as a result of much frequent interaction between Hong Kong and mainland China. It was not surprised that commuters need to spend at least two hours to get on the shuttle bus during peak seasons. It was impossible to satisfy this huge demand with only 10 Dennis Dart midibuses. Though a pair of Hino coach with local made Wong Ming bodyworks were hired, however, restricted by the sole doorway designed, they would not be the right choice for this shuttle service with growing demand. To go one step further, the high floor level of the Hino caused inconvenience to passengers with bulky luggage.

The introduction of MAN NL262, full-sized super low floor single decker, by City Bus in 1998 got a good result and finally we saw another MAN full-sized super low floor single decker on the "Huanggang - Lok Ma Chau" shuttle service in 2001. NHKB acquired a batch of 10 MAN NL263 and it is the first bus operator introduce this type. All NL263s are 12m in length and low floor design with 21 seatings plus 60 standees, carrying capacity more than almost one third of Dennis Dart. In addition, dual doors designed can facilitate the flow of passengers and enhanced the operation efficiency. Moreover, MAN NL263 was the greenest bus when entered service as they fitted with Euro 3 MAN engine.

Instead of engine from MAN, both fully automatic transmission unit by Voith and roof mounted Carrier-Sutrak air conditioning also came from Germany. The bodybuilder was first seen in Hong Kong, Caetano from Portugal and all Dennis Dragon and some Trident of City Bus with their bodyworks completed by Caetano. Though it was not necessary to show any route details, electronic route display was fitted. The first 5 were delivered in the end of Sep., 2001 and commissioned just in time before the National Holiday to relief the pressure of the service. While the remaining 5 finally joined NHKB between the end of 2001 and early 2002 and all of them classed as 11 - 20, and then exchanged with the Dennis Dart, re-classed as 1 - 10 in 2002.

It is no doubt that the introduction of MAN NL263 suitable on this short-distanced service and when new buses acquired, NHKB turned to different full-sized super low floor decker. As a replacement of a Dennis Dart involved with a traffic accident, and also for service improvement, a batch of 3 NL263 bodied by Gemilang, a Malaysian bodybuilder, introduced in 2006 and become the highest carrying capacity model in the fleet with 85 passengers (25 seatings and 60 standees) can be carried.

As reduced the cost for carrying Certificate of Fitness after their 12 years of service, NHKB decided to replace the Caetano samples with brand new Gemilang bodied MAN NL323. The first 5 were retired in Apr., 2013 and just before their withdrawal, their seatings were changed from 21 to 31 and total capacity reduced to 55 resulted.

請按圖放大圖片 Please click the photo for an enlarge version

MAN NL263 with Caetano bodywork

車隊編號 Fleet No.:1
車牌 Registration No.:KF4910
拍攝地點 Location:落馬洲 青山公路 Castle Peak Road, Lok Ma Chau

車隊編號 Fleet No.:3
車牌 Registration No.:KF6334
拍攝地點 Location:落馬洲巴士總站 Lok Ma Chau Bus Terminus

車隊編號 Fleet No.:6
車牌 Registration No.:KK5546
拍攝地點 Location:落馬洲巴士總站 Lok Ma Chau Bus Terminus

車隊編號 Fleet No.:9
車牌 Registration No.:KL2769
拍攝地點 Location:落馬洲巴士總站 Lok Ma Chau Bus Terminus

車隊編號 Fleet No.:10
車牌 Registration No.:KL2613
拍攝地點 Location:落馬洲巴士總站 Lok Ma Chau Bus Terminus

MAN NL263 with Gemilang bodywork

車隊編號 Fleet No.:13
車牌 Registration No.:ML3995
拍攝地點 Location:落馬洲 青山公路 Castle Peak Road, Lok Ma Chau

車隊編號 Fleet No.:24
車牌 Registration No.:ME6682
拍攝地點 Location:落馬洲巴士總站 Lok Ma Chau Bus Terminus
拍攝地點 Location:上水 彩暉街 Choi Fai Street,Sheung Shui

車隊編號 Fleet No.:25
車牌 Registration No.:ME6682
拍攝地點 Location:落馬洲巴士總站 Lok Ma Chau Bus Terminus
拍攝地點 Location:香港 落馬洲管制站 Lok Ma Chau Control Point,Hong Kong

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