猛獅NL系 MAN NL Series

編號 Class:MN

來自日本的五十鈴,曾經壟斷嶼巴車隊一段長時間,即使在東涌新巿鎮及新機場落成之後,嶼巴曾經引入平治客車及丹尼士飛鏢超低地台巴士作擴展服務,但仍然未有任何動搖五十鈴巴士在嶼巴車隊的地位。在大嶼山北部,嶼巴其中一條主力路線38連接逸東邨及東涌地鐵站,客量長期處於高位,但在營運初期,嶼巴只能派出全數三架飛鏢巴士,輔以五十鈴巴士行走,儘管已經提供頻密班次,但仍未能滿足需求,而且五十鈴巴士由於是高地台設計及只得一扇車門作上落之用,結果常常招來乘客抱怨。

二零零三年是新大嶼山巴士成立三十周年的大日子,亦在這一年嶼巴革命性地向德國猛獅招手,購入九架配葡萄牙Caetano雙門車身的NL263大型低地台巴士,這是嶼巴首次向德國車廠購買巴士,同時是車隊中首款大型單層低地台巴士。全數猛獅NL263均配上原廠動力,配以ZF全自動波箱,至於空調系統由開利超卓提供,電子路線牌則是Lite Vision產品。NL263對於香港來說並不陌生,早於二零零一年,穿梭落馬洲及皇崗口岸的新香港巴士,以及愉景灣交通服務有限公司已經引進了同型新車,亦即是說嶼巴是本港第三間採用猛獅NL263的巴士公司。猛獅NL263確實一新東涌區居民耳目,首先超低地台設計及寬敞的車廂空間,較五十鈴巴士能夠提供一個舒適的旅程,另外亦由這批NL263開始,嶼巴開始採用全新車身色彩,並且成為日後投入務的新車及車隊翻油時的標準。

受制於東涌道及嶼南道路面環境,猛獅NL263未能服務大嶼山南部一帶地區,甫一投入服務便主要安排行走38路線,其採用多企位少座位的佈局,十分適合這條短路程但客量多的接駁路線,而車廂亦設有大型行李架,方便乘客擺放雜物。除了38,同樣往返東涌市中心的36及37路線,偶爾亦會獲編派猛獅NL263巴士行走。

到了二零零四年,為了進一步加強大嶼山北部巴士服務,嶼巴從城巴購入五架NL263前輩,猛獅NL262大型單層低地台巴士。五架二手猛獅NL262巴士,都是屬於城巴於二零零零年購入為數二十架第二批NL262的成員,因應車隊過剩而被安排出售。在翻油嶼巴企業色彩及完成其他驗收工作後,這批猛獅NL262迅即投入38路線服務,至於車廂內部則未有作出任何大改動。由此,十四架猛獅單層低地台巴士便不分晝夜服務大嶼山北部乘客,直到二零零七年才出現改變。

二零零七年七月一日,是香港回歸祖國十周年的日子,嶼巴同日開始營辦首條服務大嶼山以外,連接深圳灣口岸及元朗西鐵站的B2路線,因應需要嶼巴便從東涌抽調了NL263及部份NL262,以及其他五十鈴巴士,配合新購入的猛獅A91巴士,以滿足B2路線的龐大需求。雖然嶼巴同時從城巴購入六架富豪B6LE中型低地台巴士,填補抽調了猛獅巴士行走B2後,大嶼山北部路線所出現的空缺,可是無論在載客量及乘坐舒適度方面,富豪B6LE仍然有所不及。嶼巴於是再次向猛獅車廠招手,購入十架NL273大型低地台單層巴士,全數配用馬來西亞順豐車身,並於二零零八年年初投入服務。嶼巴NL273採用了原廠符合歐盟四型排放標準的引擎,加上來自福伊特的全自動波箱,足夠驅動由日本電裝提供的空調系統,至於電子路線牌則由Amplus提供。當這批NL273陸續由二零零八年一月分批投入服務後,初期主要派往行走38路線,隨後亦被安排行走B2以加強該線服務,至於原先服務B2的五十鈴及猛獅NL262亦隨之被調返北大嶼山行走。

在稍後時間,嶼巴替車隊中若干成員進行更換電子路線牌箱,當中包括全數猛獅NL263及兩架NL262都換上了由Amplus提供的牌箱。

隨著嶼巴第三批青年JNP6122GR1於二零一二年底付運及出牌,加上車齡漸高,猛獅NL262在這批青年陸續投入服務之後,便從車隊中退下來,最後一架亦於二零一三年三月尾退役。至於猛獅NL263亦於服役十五年之後,於二零一八年一月下旬開始陸續退役,由全新的同廠雙層巴士,配用順豐車身的A95所取代。

嶼巴車隊由昔日日本五十鈴掛帥,變成今天幾乎清一色是猛獅的局面,或多或少跟這批NL263及隨後二手NL262有一定關係。目前,猛獅NL263仍然常見於行走東涌區內路線37及38,而NL273除了服務東涌居民外,亦常見於行走深圳灣路線B2及B2P。

For many years, the Isuzu from Japan was dominated the NLB fleet though Mercedes Benz Coach and Dennis Dart SLF once introduced for serving the new developed Tung Chung New Town and Chek Lap Kok Airport (The Hong Kong International Airport). Route 38 is the trunk route linking with Yat Tung Estate and Tung Chung MTR Station with high passengers flow. As NLB only can deploy all Dennis Dart SLF with the high-floor Isuzu, with only one door for boarding, the service standard of route 38 was therefore blamed by the residents even with a very frequent service.

In 2003, the 30th anniversary of the NLB, a batch of 9 MAN NL263 full-sized super low floor single deckers were introduced and this is the first German product in the fleet. The dual doors bodyworks on NL263 were supplied by Caetano from Portugal and completely build up before delivery. All of them are fitted with MAN engine and ZF fully automatic transmission, air-conditioning unit was from Carrier-Sutrak while Lite Vision electronic route display was chosen. One things should be mentioned NLB applied a new colour scheme on NL263 and become the standard livery for both new buses and current fleet afterwards. MAN NL263 was already serving with NHKB and DBTSL since 2001 and NLB is third operator of MAN NL263 in Hong Kong. Passengers are benefited from the super low floor design and spacious cabin, hence a much comfortable journey resulted.

MAN NL263 never served in Southern Lantau as the restriction of Tung Chung Road and the South Lantau Road and they were mainly deployed on route 38 to cater the demand. The more standees design of NL263 is suitable for this short-distanced but high demand feeder service and a large luggage racks were provided within the compartment. Apart form route 38, MAN NL263 also can be seen on route 36 and 37 serving Tung Chung Town Centre.

In order to enhance the service of Northern Lantau, a batch 5 MAN NL262 full-sized super low floor single deckers were acquired which new to City Bus in 2000. The interior of NL262 was retained as served in City Bus and all of them were repainted with the the same NLB livery applied on the NL263 before entering service. Both MAN NL262 and NL263 can be easily found on routes serving within Northern Lantau until the mid. of 2007.

1 Jul., 2007, the day of the 10th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China, NLB launched it first route serving outside the Lantau, route B2 connecting Yuen Long West Rail Station and Shenzhen Bay Port. To cope with the operation of route B2, NLB deployed the MAN NL262, NL263 and the other Isuzu buses together with the brand new A91 coach serving the commuters. Though total 6 Volvo B6LE midibuses from City Bus were introduced to substitute the MAN single deckers used to serve route 38, it was considered that those B6LE cannot satisfy the high demand within Northern Lantau and as a result, a batch of 10 MAN NL273 full-sized super low floor single decker were ordered and entered service in early 2008.

MAN NL273 complied with the Euro 4 emission standard and as it ancestor, engine is from MAN but this time fitted with a Voith automatic transmission and Nippon Denso air conditioning together with Amplus electronic display were chosen. MAN NL273 received their Gemilang bodyworks in Malaysia. When they first entering service, mainly serving route 38 but soon assigned on route B2 to upgrade the service standard and taken the role of the Isuzu and MAN NL262.

Amplus display become the standard of NLB fleet later on and all NL263 and two of the NL262 were changed their display to Amplus product.

The entire fleet of NL262 was withdrawn before Mar., 2013 after the arrival of the third batch of YoungMan JNP6122GR1. For the MAN NL263, started to withdraw from the fleet after their 15 years of service and the first to be retired is MN1(KW7894) which off from the fleet on 19 Jan., 2018.

The introduction of MAN NL263 and NL262 from City Bus can be considered is an important step for the NLB fleet changing from Isuzu to MAN as mainstream. Northern Lantau is the area that the NL263 actively served at present while the NL273, can be easily seen on route B2, B2P, 37 and 38.



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