Hino Motors Sales (Malaysia), in collaboration with the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) and Handal Indah, has commenced a one-month trial run featuring the Poncho minibus, which will ply the route 10B (Taman Setia Indah-Johor Bahru Sentral).

The minibus has already been used in the Klang Valley, with RapidKL previously running a fleet of them for several routes as part of its own trial run. For route 10B, the Poncho will be dressed up in the instantly recognisable Causeway Link livery that Handal Indah uses on its other buses.

Prior to the start of the trial run, Hino conducted a 15-minute test ride session from Johor Bahru Sentral to the Pandan bus stop to showcase the Poncho’s disabled-friendly features. This includes a low floor and a vehicle height adjusting system that can lower the vehicle’s height by as much as 50 mm for easier ingress and egress.

Present at the event were passengers representing Persatuan Sokongan Orang Kurang Upaya Johor Bahru present, who sang praises for the minibus’ ease of boarding and slide ramp to cater to those who are wheelchair-bound, with anchor hooks built into the passenger floor.

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.

In Japan, there are more than 2,000 units of the Hino Poncho operating within busy cities and narrow roads. The 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.