Hino Motor Sales (Malaysia) has supplied a fleet of Poncho minibuses to RapidKL as a part of an initiative for the development of an effective intra-city bus service to enhance first and last mile connections for commuters.

This comes as RapidKL is currently studying the feasibility of reintroducing a minibus service that was prevalent more than two decades ago, with a three-month trial run already ongoing along the T300 and T304 bus routes.

The Hino Poncho buses will be used in another trial run – handled by Rapid Bus – that caters to the T784 LRT Taman Bahagia and T201 LRT Gombak routes, which will also run for three months from October 20, 2019 to January 20, 2020.

In Japan, there are more than 2,000 units of the Hino Poncho operating within busy cities and narrow roads. The low-floor minibus measures seven metres in length, which is significantly less than current buses in operation that are around 10 to 12 metres long, making it more manoeuvrable.

Featuring a vehicle height adjusting system that is capable of vehicle height lowering and raising control, the vehicle’s height can be lowered by as much as 50 mm to make it easier for ingress and egress. Additionally, the system’s raising control allows the chassis to be lifted by up to 30 mm to improve driveability on rougher roads.

The disabled-friendly bus is capable of ferrying up to 31 passengers (including those standing) and is powered by a Euro V-compliant 5.0 litre turbodiesel engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain also uses the automaker’s Diesel Particulate Reduction (DPR) system, and can operate without additional after-treatments like AdBlue urea fluid to minimise operating and maintenance costs.