I’m sure if you’re a frequent visitor to this blog, you would know of my fascination with buses, be it locally or abroad. And I have this special interest in Malaysian interstate coaches, particularly the double-deckers. Until a couple of years back, no one would have thought that coach operators will acquire double-deckers for their operations. And lately, numerous big names in the industry have introduced, or at least planned to introduce double-deckers into their stable. I shall dedicate this special entry to the colourful double-deckers of Malaysia.
The first coach operator to introduce a double-decker in their fleet was NiCE, or Nationwide Interstate Coach Express. NiCE with its brand such as Plusliner, NiCE 2 and NiCE++, operates to various cities and towns in Peninsular Malaysia, as well as Singapore. The double-decker coach service, christened NiCE 2, was designed specifically for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore sector. It made big headlines in the local media because of its novelty. Designed by Bee Hing Coachworks, it was fitted onto the Scania chassis. The service received good response from customers initially, but passenger numbers dwindled not long after. It is believed that NiCE 2 succumbed to stiff competition from other operators in the sector.
Since then, a myriad of operators and models from the many bus bodybuilders in Malaysia have sprung up. While some opted to include a range of services and frills onboard to attract passengers, others remained conventional with the facilities onboard. Transtar Express, considered as one of the pioneers in the industry, has a fleet of double-deckers on its Premium, First Class and First Class Solitaire classes. Amongst the facilities and amenities provided onboard are, personal entertainment system with LCD screens, massaging chair, reclined seats and F&B service, just to name a few.
Other operators followed suit, creating somewhat a new trend among interstate coach operators. Now, almost similar amenities an be found onboard Five Stars Express, Aeroline, Konsortium Bas Ekspres Semenanjung (KBES), Airebus, Grassland Express and several others. Such luxurious settings, however, are mostly found on double-deckers serving the Singapore sector.
There are other double-decker operators which operates such buses within Malaysia. These buses, on the contrary, lacked the many luxurious facilities on their cross-border counterparts. While some operators opted to upgrade the level of comfort with the new 2+1 seating configuration, some like Mahligai and eMutiara maintained the conventional 2+2 seating configuration.
Ever since the beginning of the decade, almost every big name in the interstate coach express industry have begun to introduce double-deckers in their fleet. Mahligai Express, eMutiara Express and Sani Express, which are the leading operators in the East Coast, all have new and modern double-deckers since June 2008. Transnasional, the nation’s largest interstate coach operator, have also introduce their Skyview double-deckers on their trips to the East Coast, and the latest to Johor Bahru in the South. Mayang Sari Express and KKKL Express also has double-deckers on their Southern routes. The incumbent operators up north, like Durian Burung Express, AB Express, Jelita Transtours and KBES, were among the first to deploy such coaches anywhere in Malaysia. Looking into the future, several other big names like Suasana Edaran Express, Cepat Express and SP Bumi Express are rumoured to have ordered double-deckers for their interstate operations.
Double-decker buses are not only popular with the coach companies. Believe it or not, government agency and even a university have also acquired double-deckers! Double-deckers can also be seen operating as citybuses in the Klang Valley, as well as in Malacca.
There seem to be no pause or a lack of interest for double-decker coaches. We can expect more operators to jump into the bandwagon. The market leaders are also constantly replacing their fleet with newer double-deckers. With levels of comfort reaching new highs, the consumers are the obvious winners in this competition. However, with prices of oil ever on the increase, it is unlikely operators will reduce ticket prices, even with stiff competition.
all photos are copyrights of the respective owners.
This entry was originally published on July 11, 2008.