I had planned to take Eltabina Express’ new double-decker coach to Kuala Lumpur. But I was informed that the coach will not be in service on the intended day of departure, so I had to engage on my backup plans. I had shortlisted Konsortium Express (KBES), Grassland Express and Alisan Express, on top of Eltabina Express. I decided upon Alisan since tickets are still available and especially because of their new daily ‘executive class’ service utilising their similarly brand new high-decker coach.
Alisan Express’ new executive coach service operates daily between Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Penang. The coach leaves Singapore at 9.15am and is scheduled to arrive at Kuala Lumpur and Penang at 2.30pm and 7.00pm respectively. The return trip will leave Penang for Singapore at 11pm. The service will call at Golden Mile Complex in Singapore, Puduraya Terminal in Kuala Lumpur and Sungai Nibong Terminal in Penang. One-way ticket for adults starts at SG$35. No fuel surcharge will be included. Only a single coach is utilised for the service, JLK8899, which was assembled by QBC Coachbuilders on the Nissan JA452S chassis. Interestingly, the coach is operating under a permit by KKKL Express. It seats a total of 18 passengers in a ‘2+1′ configuration. Audio and video entertainment are shown on the tv monitors placed at every seat. However, massaging functions are not available. Meals and drinks are also not served onboard.
On the day of departure, I reached the ticketing office for checkin at 8.30am, as told by the ticketing officer earlier on. To my dismay, the office was still closed. There were 2 other passengers waiting when I arrived. The office was only opened just 20 minutes prior to the departure. In all, only 5 passengers will be travelling on the trip. At precisely 9.15am, JLK8899 left Golden Mile Complex. It made a brief stop along Jalan Sultan to pick up another passenger. As the service is a direct service to Kuala Lumpur, it will call at Tuas Checkpoint and the SecondLink before proceeding on the North-South Highway. While making its way along the Ayer Rajah Expressway, the second driver asked around if anyone would like a stopover at Yong Peng for breakfast. The passengers unanimously opted against it, since there are only a handful of us. Instead, we chose for the driver to head straight to Kuala Lumpur, and reach earlier than scheduled.
The bus reached the Malaysian immigration complex around an hour after we left Singapore. After the immigration clearance, the crew again asked around if anyone would like to grab something to eat at the Gelang Patah Rest Area before proceeding to Kuala Lumpur. Again, the passengers unanimously decided for the bus to proceed without any stops. The crew then went to each passenger and switched on the tv sets for the passengers.
A large 12-inch monitor is placed at the back of the snoozer-styled seats. Passengers can choose from a wide selection of entertainment programmes ranging from movies, animation and audio tracks. A headphone with an integrated audio control system is also provided. The bus performed above my expectations. Unlike the conventional Japanese chassis usually operated by express buses, the JA452S is built integrated with an air suspension system. This provides a smooth ride while cruising on the highway. The engine is also noticeably quieter than normal Nissan buses. Added with the cool air-conditioning system, the journey seems almost perfect.
The bus made a refuelling stop at the Ayer Keroh Utara Rest Area at around 12.25pm. The passengers took this chance for a much-needed toilet break as well to grab something to eat for the rest of the journey. After the 15 minutes refuelling stop, the bus continued its journey on the North-South Highway. Even with the wet and hazy weather, the experienced driver skillfully drove the bus with almost no jerks and notable discomfort. The bus finally reached Sungai Besi Toll Plaza slightly more than an hour after we left Ayer Keroh Utara Rest Area. Like what I expected, we experienced a massive traffic congestion soon after leaving the toll plaza. The bus reached Puduraya Bus Terminal some one hour later. This was more than twice as long as the normal time taken. We finally disembarked at 2.40pm, with only one passenger continuing his journey northwards to Penang.
I am particularly impressed with the performance of the bus. Nissan has certainly come a long way and proven itself as a reliable express bus manufacturer. The bodywork is not that eyecatching, but certainly it is something to mention about – decent, nice-finishing and hardly any rattles. At a low price of only SG$35, it is more than worth the price paid for. The programmes shown on the entertainment system was also not a disappointment. I was kept busy choosing a movie, since there are so many to choose from. And if not for the massive traffic congestion, the bus would have made it earlier to Kuala Lumpur. Alisan Express may soon be another operator to look out for.
I’m happy to give Alisan Express 3.5 stars.
Alisan Express & Services Pte Ltd
5001 Beach Road
#01-15A Golden Mile Complex
Tel : 6292 2112
Alisan Golden Coach Express
371 Beach Road
#01-25 Key Point
Tel : 6392 3623
Update as of 24th December 2009: This high-decker executive bus (JLK8899) has since ceased to operate for Alisan Express. Jom Naik Bas! understands that the bus has been returned to KKKL Express and is now operating on the Klang – Kuala Lumpur – Hatyai service.