猛獅 A51/A91 MAN A51/A91
Isuzu played a very important role in NLB fleet between 1980s and 1990s, to such an extent that the NLB fleet was solely composed of Isuzu products for a period of time. In the 1990s, the government planned to develop Tung Chung as a new town while Chek Lap Kok as the new international airport. NLB took this as a chance to diversify its fleet by introduced Mercedes Benz coach and Mitsubishi Rosa from the parent company Kwoon Chung. To cope with the fleet development, NLB introduced it first super low floor bus model, the Plaxton bodied Dennis Dart SLF in 1998. The role of the Isuzu was not affected after the introduction of Dennis Dart and still was the mainstream of NLB before the millennium.
A batch of 9 MAN NL263 full-sized super low floor single-deckers was introduced in 2003, the 30th anniversary of the establishment of NLB, and deploy on route 38 linking Yat Tung Estate and Tung Chung MTR Station. More MAN super low floor bus was acquired in 2004 with total 5 second hand MAN NL262 new to City Bus in 2000. Both MAN NL262 and NL263 soon took an important role in alleviating the heavy demand of this route and the service standard was improved. Though MAN single deckers had a satisfactory performance, no more MAN was introduced when the old Isuzus retired from the fleet and NLB continued to acquire Isuzu from Kwoon Chung as replacement.
1 Jul. , 2007, the 10th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China, the HK-Shenzhen Western Corridor and the Shenzhen Bay Port started operation. The first NLB route serving outside Lantau Island, B2 operating between Yuen Long WR Station and Shenzhen Bay Port, commissioned on the same day and to cope with the need for the opening of B2, more buses were introduced. The introduction of a batch of 5 MAN A91(18.350) with Asia Auto dual-door step-entranced bodyworks was the most eye-catching and all of them featured with Euro 4 emission standards engine and luggage racks were fitted for the convenience to the cross border passengers. The first MAN A91 entered service on 7 Jul., 2007 and all of them were working on route 37 and 38 before deployed on B2 at the end of Aug. 2007. In addition, A trial at South Lantau Road for a MAN A91 was conducted in Jul. 2007 but they were seldom seen serving on Southern Lantau routes prior to the opening of the new section of Tung Chung Road. After their withdrawal from route B2, the luggage racks on this batch of dual-door MAN A91 were replaced with seats and now mainly serving routes linking Tung Chung and the Southern Lantau.
To cater the demand and substituted the aging Isuzu, a batch of 10 MAN A51(18.310) was transferred from Hotelink, a subsidiary company of Kwoon Chung Group, to NLB in Aug. 2007 and started to serve passengers since Sep., 2007. Unliked the A91 mentioned above, all A51 were bodied by Asia Auto with it Spacestar single door bodywork and 4 of them (MN24 - 27) with luggage rack for serving route B2. Besides serving Tung Chung internal routes and B2 before the delivery of MAN NL273, NLB deployed the A51 on routes serving the Souther Island as the improvement works of Tung Chung Road was gradually completed. To go one step further, fully automatic transmission was fitted on the MAN, as a result safety was enhanced and shortened the journey time. As NLB withdrawn it Isuzu, more and more MAN with Asia Auto single door bodyworks were transferred from different Kwoon Chung subsidiaries between 2009 and 2010 and some of them were fitted with the Aero bodywork.
The fleet renewal scheme of NLB between 2010 and 2013 was mainly relied on the YoungMan full-sized super low floor single-deckers from China was chosen and until Jul., 2013, NLB took delivery of a batch of 7 MAN A91 (18.360) with Asia Auto Spacestar bodyworks from Kwoon Chung and this batch of MAN started service in Aug., 2013. The A91 commissioned in 2013 was fitted with Asia Auto Spacestar single door bodywork and driven by a much powerful Euro 5 standard MAN engine.
Fleet renewal programme still under process and those MAN A51 commissioned in 2007 was started to retire since 2015 and their place was taken over by the A91 from Kwoon Chung. It is a common sight for observing a MAN everywhere within the Lantau Island and completely substituted the role used to play by the Isuzu.
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