Hino Poncho Minibus Continues Route Trials In Kuala Lumpur And Penang
The Hino Poncho minibus is back on route trials again. This time there are 2 Ponchos prepared for trials in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Brought in by Hino Motors Sales (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, the Poncho was prepared for Rapid Bus Sdn Bhd to trial it in more challenging routes. The bus had completed its first trial run in 2019 where it plied routes in Gombak and Petaling Jaya for 2 months. Subsequently, it was sent to Johor Bahru for further trials in 2020.
The 2nd trial in KL will span from October 2021 to the end of April 2022. It will be used on route T180 (Taman Dato’ Senu – Chow Kit), and route 302 (Titiwangsa – KLCC). Similarly in Penang, the Poncho will make its debut on route 11 (Pengkalan Weld – Batu Lanchang) and route 201 (Pengkalan Weld – Tingkat Paya, Terubong).
The Hino Poncho is a 7-meter long minibus with a low-floor specifically designed for narrow or congested roads. The Poncho’s relatively short body makes it easy to navigate in busy traffic and takes up less space. The short front and rear overhangs, and wheelbase, also give the bus a small turning radius of only 7.7 meters, allowing it to make most turns without disrupting other cars on the road. Further, the low floor design makes access easier for senior citizens, children, and passengers with physical disabilities. The bus can be lowered by 50 mm to improve access, and raised up to 30 mm higher to handle rough roads.
There are already over 2,000 Hino Poncho buses working the routes in Japan’s city roads and quieter residential areas. Its ability to access narrow streets makes it an ideal solution for first- and last-mile travel. This manoeuvrability advantage of the Poncho also gives bus operators the possibility of expanding to new routes previously not accessible with the larger buses. There is thus a chance of setting new routes to cover more areas, especially residential ones, to further improve mobility.
“Based on our first trial in Klang Valley from October 2019 – March 2020, Hino Poncho was able to serve our passengers better and the small size of the bus enables it to easily manoeuvre smaller residential areas and improve resource utilisation through the improvement of the load factor.” said Rapid Bus Chief Executive Officer, Muhammad Yazurin Sallij.
He also cited challenges faced by the normal 10-meter to 12-meter buses such as haphazard roadside parking by private vehicle owners which obstruct the larger buses and cause trip delays.
“We have been working together on our past collaboration to run this Hino Poncho in 2019 and we see the impressive result of our first trial run that cater to route T784: LRT Taman Bahagia – Damansara Utama and route T20: LRT Gombak – Wira Damai Hub,” said HMSM Managing Director, Atsushi Uchiyama.
“Thank you to Rapid Bus for trusting our product and agreed to continue using Hino Poncho services to enhance the public transport connectivity here in Malaysia. I believe this second trial run with Rapid Bus will meet their expectation especially on the effectiveness of connectivity, access and cost-efficient factors. We are excited to see Hino Poncho trial expanding to other states especially in Penang island,” he stated.
In terms of operating efficiency, the Poncho is fitted with a Euro 5 common-rail diesel engine mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. The smaller bus body allows this Euro 5 engine to provide greater engine performance for better fuel economy and reduced emissions. It also uses a Diesel Particulate Reduction (DPR) system which is an after-treatment system that significantly reduces particulate matter. This is a different method to dealing with emissions and does not require any additional fluids such as AdBlue urea fluid, thus enabling savings on operating cost and maintenance time.