三菱 MK Mitsubishi MK
一九九五年再有合共十五架全新三菱巴士(AM169 - 183)加入九巴，型號是屬改良型號的MK217J並跟先前的MK117J一樣，於日本裝嵌完成後才運抵香港，新車在投入服務後主要被安排行走64K及211線。MK217J跟MK117J最大分別在於車頂的空調冷凝器位置，MK217J是安放於車尾頂部，而整體車身線條亦較MK117J來得更加渾圓。三菱於一九九五年尾替九巴帶來一架MK218J(AM184/GP5016)樣板巴士，作為賠償因交通意外而退役的AM64(EV3589)。三菱聲稱MK218J是屬於低地台設計型號，儘管車門依然設有一級梯級，但對比之前的MK117J及MK217J需要攀爬兩級梯級才能進入車廂，已經有所進步。另外，AM184在前軸上的座位是採用橫向設計，而且企位人數亦較其餘兩款MK系中型巴士多出五人，AM184在投入服務之初主要行走2號線，但不久之後便被安排成為荔枝角廠的後備車，其後主要安排行走243R線往返青嶼幹線訪客中心，以及九巴員工的婚禮花車，而自AM184投入服務之後，九巴再沒有採購任何日製巴士。
The concept of air-conditioned bus service was aroused in the mid. of 1970s and an auxiliary engine powered air-conditioning unit was fitted on a Bedford YRQ coach in 1975 for evaluation which was the first air-conditioned bus in KMB. A pair of air-conditioned double deckers, the Dennis Jubilant and Leyland Victory Mk 2, also the air-conditioning unit was driven by an auxiliary engine were started evaluation since 1980 and 1981 respectively. Unfortunately, these evaluation were considered as unsatisfied due to the high running cost and poor performance of the air-conditioning unit. Further air-conditioned bus evaluation was started with the introduction of a batch of 20 Dennis Falcon and a sole MCW Metrobus were introduced in 1985 and 1987 respectively and all of them was featured with an air-conditioning driven by the main engine. Only the trial of Falcon was success and further introduction of air-conditioned bus was based on the fleet replacement of route 90 in 1987.
The Albion CH13AXL used to serve route 90 linking Choi Hung and Rennie's Mill was the only bus model suitable for the route and reached the end of their service life in 1987. Toyota from Japan was successfully supplied Coaster minibus with air-conditioning as a replacement and not only satisfy the need of route 90, but also upgraded the service standard of route 208 which is the only coach service survived. In addition, with more and more Toyota Coaster acquired, KMB extended the networks by opening new feeder services linking newly developed private housing estate.
The air-conditioned bus service was widely welcomed by general public and as Toyota Coaster can only accommodate 24 seatings passengers, KMB started to seek for air-conditioned bus with higher carrying capacity and finally a batch of 40 MK117J midibus supplied by Mitsubishi in Japan was delivered completely-build-up in 1990 and a 10-year warranty service from local dealer was provided. Compared to the Toyota Coaster, a wider compartment was offered on the MK-series with 45 passengers can be carried with 35 seatings offered. To go one step further, fully automatic transmission supplied by Allison can be found on MK117J in contrast to the manual transmission on the Coaster and bus captain can drive with ease was resulted. Radio broadcasting was available during the early days of their service, however, this was stopped after receiving complaints from commuters. The Mitsubishi MK117J was not only first deployed on route 203, 208 and 238M, but also introduced to route 2 and 64K to upgrade the service standard. It should be mentioned that route 2 running along Nathan Road was the first service operated by both conventional and air-conditioned buses while those MK put on route 64K was as the replacement of Albion EVK55CL. Further order of 148 Mitsubishi MK117J was made between 1991 and 1993 and they were gradually took the place of Toyota Coaster and strengthen the air-conditioned bus service network and mainly serving route 80M, 211, 212, 234A, 234X, 270, 273, 276, 282, 284, 298 and 299, etc.
We saw KMB took the delivery of 15 Mitsubishi MK217J (AM169 - 183), an improved version of MK117J from Mitsubishi in 1995. MK217 can be easily distinguished from the MK117J by their streamlined bodywork and the roof-mouted air-conditioning unit at the rear. As the MK117J introduced before, the MK217J was delivered completely-build-up from Japan and they were mainly seen on route 64K and 211 after their commission. As compensated the lost of AM64(EV3589) which involved with a serious traffic accident, a MK218J demonstrator (AM184/GP5016) joined KMB in the end of 1995 and it was the last bus to be made in Japan in the fleet. Mitsubishi claimed that MK218J was a low floor version of MK217J though there still a step at the entrance, in contrast to two steps design on both MK117J and MK217J. Moreover, it also had a slightly different compartment layout with inward facing seats fitted on the front axle wheel well and 5 more standees was available. AM184 was first served route 2 after registration and soon taken out from the route as reserve bus of Lai Chi Kok before as a schedule bus of recreation route 243R or wedding bus for KMB staff.
Mitsubishi MK facing the same problem of Toyota Coaster, they cannot meet the demand and the narrow passway causing inconvenience to the passengers especially on the trunk service. They were soon replaced by air-conditioned double deckers and except as reserve bus or serving overnight routes, the MK-series mainly serving special service 14S operated during Ching Ming and Chung Yeung Festival. Luggage racks was fitted on the following MK117J, AM28, 39, 40, 67, 88, 91, 98 and 108, for Airbus service A7 to cope with the retirement of the Toyota Coaster. These Mitsubishi MK117J was restored to original compartment layout after the cancellation of the service when Kai Tak Airport ceased operation on 6 Jul., 1998. As the decommissioned of the Victory Mk2, KMB converted some of the routes like 8A, 34, 73K, 78K and 79K used to serve by the Victory into full air-conditioned operation with the Mitsubishi MK midibus and as their performance on these routes was satisfactory. MK-series further find their new home on route 53, 54, 76K and 77K when the above services fully operated by air-conditioned buses between 2001 and 2003.
Two more service operated by Mitsubishi MK should be mentioned, the "Kowloon Circle" T1 and medical staff service H1. The former service was operated by a fleet of 7 Mitsubishi MK117J (AM62, 76, 78, 80, 81, 88 and 100) decorated with specific livery and Roadshow was installed for introduction of the sightseeing point along the route. The multi-media system was retained even after the withdrawal of the service and they were the only single decker to be fitted with Roadshow in KMB fleet. Route H1, a special medical staff shuttle service operated between 28 Apr., and 27 May, 2003 linking Tin Yan and Princess Margaret Hospital during SARS in 2003 and a pair of MK117J was deployed on the route.
The first Mitsubishi MK withdrawn from the fleet was AM64 in 1995 as mentioned above which serious damaged after a traffic accident when working on route 276. AM72 was joined KMB training school in 1997 and though the training school liver was later repainted with standard KMB livery, it training bus identity still can be easily recognized as no Octopus payment machine and next stop announcement system installed. It was unfortunate for several Mitsubishi MK included the sole MK218J to be written off in 2002 as a result of traffic accident. MK117J was started to withdraw from the fleet since 2003 and they were gradually replaced by air-conditioned double deckers, MK217J, Dennis Dart or other brand new super low floor single decker. The last two MK117J were withdrawn in Jun., 2011 and the remaining MK217J still active in serving route 53, 77K, 203 and 276 before their fully retirement in Mar., 2012 which meant there were no more Japanese product serving in KMB fleet.
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