The B9TL chassis shared the same design of the B7TL. The key difference from both its predecessor, the B10TL Super Olympian and B7TL, is the new 9.3-litre engine originally designed by Renault Trucks. The radiator is located at the rear offside, similar the smaller B7TL. The front module design is shared with other low-floor bus chassis built by Volvo, and independent suspension is fitted at the front axle (replaced by conventional front suspension after some years of production).
The B9TL was initially offered in 3-axle format, and the 2-axle variant was added in 2006 to replace the B7TL. The driveline comprises a Volvo D9A Euro III engine (rated at 300bhp or 340bhp), which was later replaced by the Volvo D9B Euro IV engine (uses selective catalytic reduction technology; two versions were offered - the D9B260 rated at 260bhp for 2-axle version, and a higher powered D9B310, rated at 310bhp, for 3-axle version), and coupled to a ZF 5/6-speed gearbox. Volvo also offer the Voith 4-speed gearbox as an option.
The front wheels of 3-axle B9TL are usually supplied by ALCOA of the USA, but some buses (including the 3 prototypes) have all their wheels supplied by ALCOA.
Kowloon Motor Bus
A Volvo B9TL prototype was delivered to Hong Kong in July 2003 for Kowloon Motor Bus as a demonstrator for the Eco-Driveline concept (a large differential ratio, an engine with high low-end torque, and a 6-speed automatic gearbox with double overdrive ratios). However, the Volgren CR223LD body (which is actually known to have been assembled in Switzerland) had a width of only 2500mm instead of the usual 2550mm. After months of testing, the bus was registered as LJ7006 and numbered AVD1 in March 2004. It was put into service in April 2004.
As a result of these tests, Volvo Buses and ZF adopted the Eco-Driveline system as the primary driveline option on the B9TL.
Later it was confirmed that AVD1 would leave Hong Kong after its evaluation, and a farewell tour was held by Bus Fan World on 12 December 2004. The bus was delicensed on 15 December 2004 and left Hong Kong at noon on 21 December 2004.
In August 2005, AVD1 was shipped back to Hong Kong after its D9A engine was replaced by a D9B unit. Pre-October 2005, the bus was kept by Volvo in the Hong Kong United Dockyard. Later in 2005, the bus was transferred to KMB for installation of service equipment. The bus was re-licensed as MF5119 in February 2006, and re-entered service on 24 May 2006. The bus is one of the first two to meet the Euro IV emissions standards in Hong Kong (the other is an Alexander Dennis Enviro500 with fleet number ATEU1, originally ATE257).
- AVBE/AVBW class
In early 2004, a Volvo B9TL prototype with a facelifted version of the TransBus Enviro500 body arrived in Hong Kong. It had a slightly different front and rear design, and its rear route box was moved beneath the upper deck rear window. After TransBus International was renamed Alexander Dennis in May 2004, it became the only TransBus Enviro-series bus with a non-Dennis chassis.
Later in the same year, a Wright-bodied B9TL prototype was also delivered. The rear design of its Wright body was different from that of the Wright-bodied Volvo Super Olympian (AVW-class), with the number plate moved beneath (and a little to the right of) the rear route box.
On 12 January 2005, the TransBus Enviro 500-bodied B9TL was finally licensed as LU3721 with fleet number AVBE1, and the Wright-bodied B9TL was registered as LU3739 with fleet number AVBW1. Both of them entered service on the night of 8 February 2005.
In early 2005 Kowloon Motor Bus ordered 25 B9TL chassis with Wright bodywork, which entered service in 2005/2006. One of them (fleet number AVBW25) had participated in the EFE Showbus 2005 event in the UK before delivery. Among these 25 Wright-bodied B9TL, two of them are prototypes - fleet no. AVBW15 and AVBW26 (registration no. MG470 and MH7721 respectively). AVBW15 is fitted with a D9A340 engine coupled to a 4-speed Voith DIWA864.5 gearbox instead of the D9A300 engine coupled to a 6-speed ZF6HP592C gearbox, which is unique among the whole Wright-bodied B9TL fleet.
In late 2005, Kowloon Motor Bus placed a further order of 38 Wright-bodied B9TL and 50 Enviro500-bodied B9TL, the Wright-bodied buses entered service in mid/late-2006, and the Enviro500-bodied buses entered service in late 2006/2007. These were followed by another 35 buses with Enviro500 bodywork, they entered service in 2007/2008.
- AVBWU class
In 2009, Kowloon Motor Bus ordered 175 Wright Eclipse Gemini 2-bodied B9TLs (in two batches) equipped with Euro V D9B-310 engines and Vogelsitze seats, which have begun delivery as of early 2010. These were followed by an order for a further 115 Wright-bodied B9TL in 2010.
The first 61 buses entered service between 2010 and 2011.
- AVBWS class
Kowloon Motor Bus received one Wright Eclipse Gemini 2-bodied two-axle B9TL in 2010, it was first registered in December 2010.
- Early withdrawal
On 29 September 2009, a KMB Wright-bodied B9TL (fleet number AVBW29, reg number MJ6852) was written off after being burnt out near Wu Chung House in Queen's Road East, Wan Chai on 10 December 2008.
After investigations, it was determined that the fire was caused by an overheated generator. Later KMB received one additional B9TL as compensation.
Long Win Bus
Long Win Bus operates ten B9TL with Alexander Dennis Enviro500 bodywork which entered service in 2007/2008. All vehicles in this batch are almost identical to those with Kowloon Motor Bus.These 10 vehicles are now sold to Kowloon Motor Bus.
Citybus received one Wright Eclipse Gemini 2-bodied two-axle B9TL in 31 July 2010. This vehicle was first registered in November 2010 and entered service in the following month.
In tri-axle form, the B9TL made its debut in Britain when Weavaway Travel of Newbury placed an order for 6 B9TL with East Lancs "Myllennium" Nordic bodywork in late 2004 and put them into service in April/May 2005, becoming the first UK operator of the type. Since then, 2 more were sold to Roadliner of Poole and Provence Private Hire of St Albans for school contracts and commercial work.
The 2-axle Volvo B9TL did not make its debut in Britain until the middle of 2006. The first demonstrator, with Wright Eclipse Gemini body, was delivered to London General (part of the Go-Ahead Group) in July 2006 for evaluation, it is used on route 11 along with the current Wright-bodied Volvo B7TL. The first order was secured from Delaine for 2 examples with the new East Lancs Olympus bodywork. The first one, along with an Alexander Dennis Enviro400-bodied version, were unveiled in "Euro Bus Expo" show in November 2006.
Initial sales of the 2-axle version had been slow in Britain, particularly in London, after falling foul with the noise and capacity requirements imposed by Transport for London. Otherwise, the B9TL managed greater success - notably with Lothian Buses ordering 50 examples for delivery in 2007 and then 50 more in 2008 and 75 more in 2009, First with 453 for use in its UK operations (for delivery in 2007-10), and Ulsterbus of Northern Ireland, with 125. The first order from Arriva was 10 buses with East Lancs Visionaire bodywork for The Original Tour, followed by an order for 16 buses with Darwen Olympus bodywork in high specification featuring leather seats for Arriva Yorkshire entering service between January and May 2008. Other notable customers include East Yorkshire Motor Services, Highland Scottish, Yorkshire Coastliner and Flights Hallmark.
In Northern Ireland, Translink purchased 125 Volvo B9TLs, all bodied by Wrightbus.
Dublin Bus of Dublin, Ireland placed an order for 20 B9TL with single-door Alexander Dennis Enviro500 bodywork in early 2005. These buses are the largest in the fleet and also the first tri-axle double deckers for the Irish capital, the first of them entered service in December 2005. These "VT" class buses run on high-demand routes, such as route 46A.
In 2007, Dublin Bus ordered 50 B9TL with Alexander Dennis Enviro400 bodywork and another 50 B9TL with Alexander Dennis Enviro500 bodywork for delivery in 2007/2008. The 2-axle buses entered service in summer/autumn 2007, and the 3-axle buses entered service in December 2007/early 2008. Later Dublin Bus ordered 50 B9TL with Alexander Dennis Enviro400 bodywork and 50 B9TL with Wright Eclipse Gemini bodywork for delivery in 2008/2009.
Bus Éireann also put 10 Wright Eclipse Gemini-bodied Volvo B9TL into service in late 2008.
Comfort DelGro Corporation Limited bodywork
SBS Transit of Singapore placed an order for 150 B9TL chassis in 2004, then the largest single order, which were fitted with bodywork from ComfortDelgro Engineering, part of SBS Transit's parent company. An additional order for 50 more chassis was placed in 2006 soon after putting its first B9TLs into operation, bringing the total fleet size to 200. These B9TLs come with a Volvo D9A300 engine (Euro III), 150 having ZF 6HP602C gearboxes while the remaining 50 have Voith D864.3 gearboxes.
These are Singapore's first wheelchair-accessible buses. However, instead of automatic ramps, SBS Transit has decided to use manually-operated ramps. While the ramps would need more time to deploy, they would be more reliable than automatic ones and would be cheaper to install and maintain because of the absence of complicated mechanical parts.
The buses were launched on 15 February 2006 by Singapore's then Minister for Transport, Yeo Cheow Tong. They were supposed to be deployed from April onwards, but this was delayed till June 2006 - they were slightly wider than most other buses in Singapore, bus stops had to be retrofitted for wheelchair users, and it was necessary to survey which bus routes in Singapore had the most pressing need for such buses.
Bus service 21 was the first to receive the buses, where ten were put into service serving between Saint Michael's Bus Terminal and Pasir Ris Interchange on 27 June 2006, with an official launch ceremony held at Pasir Ris Interchange on 26 June 2006. Service 21 was chosen after consultations with various welfare organizations serving the needs of the handicapped, as well as the Land Transport Authority. This route also passes the premises of the Handicaps Welfare Association as well as Tan Tock Seng Hospital, among other medical facilities. B9TLs continued to roll out of the bodywork assembly plant at SBS Transit's Hougang depot, being deployed on selected routes served by several depots, where the routes chosen are expected to serve large numbers of elderly commuters.
As of 29 September 2006, before the Euro 4 dateline of 1 October 2006 set by the Singapore government for diesel vehicles, all 200 B9TLs have been registered, with registration numbers SBS7300P to SBS7499A. As of 2007, all 200 buses were out on the roads.
- Early withdrawal
On 7 March 2010, SBS7440T from service 25 was burnt in a bus depot fire and was de-registered several months later.
Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 bodywork
On 13 Aug 2009, SBS Transit announced a further order of 150 more Volvo B9TL chassis with Volvo D9B310 Euro V engines, ZF Ecolife 6-speed gearboxes and Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 bodywork as part of a fleet renewal programme costing S$87 million. This order was followed by an additional order for another 300 buses in September 2010, also with similar specifications, bringing the total up to 450.
The first unit was handed over to SBS Transit by Wrightbus Ltd. in mid-September 2010, and is in service as of November 2010. The buses will be registered in the license plate range SBS7500D to SBS7686B. The fleet renewal programme also means that the first-generation Leyland Olympian air-conditioned double-deckers will be withdrawn from service in the near future.
On 20th April 2011, SBS7507K was laid-up for unknown reasons, and nine days later, SBS7503X encountered an accident with windscreen broken and was laid up, bringing the remaining total buses on service in the future to be 448.
A number of 2-axle Volvo B9TL open top buses were sold to a number of cities in Continental Europe for sightseeing purposes.
- Product description in the Volvo website
- Bus specs from Volvo
- D9B engine specs from Volvo
- Pictures of Dublin Bus's VT class, the Enviro500-bodied B9TL
- Delaine buses website page detailing order and delivery of B9TL Olympus number 141
Other Volvo low floor bus models:
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