Why I Stopped Hyping to Retiring Buses

Please don’t take things for granted!

UPDATE: All the remaining non-wheelchair buses are rumoured to be no longer running on service as of 1 December. The next to retire will be SBS Transit’s first wheelchair bus model, Volvo B9TL with ComfortDelGro Engineering bodywork.

Hi guys, Howard here. A handful of old bendy buses have retired from service close to a week ago, leaving with only 6 (including one double decker bus) non-wheelchair accessible buses on service left. While many that I know from the bus spotters’ community have documented themselves finding the then-retiring buses with only a few days before being withdrawn, I simply couldn’t care less. Here’s why.

TIB1236M on 960, one of the buses that has retired from service days ago.

So for the average person out there who’s not a bus expert, SMRT Buses’ Mercedes-Benz O405G (pictured above) is now the retiring bus model that many bus fans are hyping to (at the time of writing). Currently, there are only 5 of such bendy buses left running on the roads. But even if these few are still running, most of them now will usually only run a few trips before heading back to the depot. The last of the 5 remaining buses will be retired on 3 March 2021. It is also SMRT Buses’ last non-wheelchair accessible bus model. The title was previously held by SBS Transit’s Volvo B10TL with Volgren bodywork but was fully retired in April 2020. The next to hold the title will be SBS Transit’s sole Volvo B10TL with ComfortDelGro Engineering bodywork but will retire on 28 February 2022 (provided it is still in condition to run).

Ride or Snap? Why not both?

Difficulty in finding a balance between photographing and riding retiring buses for the last time is a thing I felt when documenting them. You either find a good spot to snap that retiring bus model but risk not being able to ride if it’s only running a few trips, or ride that retiring bus model for how long you like but risk getting a shitty photo if you can’t find good spots on time. Most of the time, I would rather take a photo of retiring buses at a good spot than riding them. This is because photos can be there forever while your brain could possibly forget that you rode on a bus due to retire. But when I do both, that’s when I had so much free time (which I don’t now), or that the retiring bus is running the whole day.

Avoiding the fanfare

When a bus is due for retirement in a few days’ time, that is when most bus fans will flock towards these bus models. I dare say the demand for a certain bus model will reach its peak in any of these three criteria: when it’s brand new, when its special deployment appeals to much more bus fans than it should (commonly known as rare cameos by bus fans), and when it’s a few days near to retirement. There’ll be kids, rogues or simply bus fans you want to avoid who’ll show up the most during such fanfare. The most I could avoid such fanfare whilst documenting retiring buses is by simply taking a photo of that bus at a spot alone and leave that spot asap once I finished documenting. In contrast, if I were to ride buses when they’re on the brink of retirement, chances of bumping into other bus fans will be much higher. Trust me when I say this; I have had plenty of bad experiences not only on transport related debuts and cameo spotting, but also on farewell events, and I have enough of it!

SBS9844Z is the only Volvo B10TL sent to Hong Kong for preservation.

Prime time is best time

Remember the days when these buses were considered old, but just started retiring? Yes, that I feel is when old buses were ripe enough for a good documentation. Anything before won’t get a lot of attention and anything after will saturate the feed in your social media accounts. I have documented these old buses before they were considered retiring (but on different routes) and some of them were certainly memorable, especially on rare cameos like the one pictured above. When the bus is nearing its retirement, I need not have to worry about rushing to document that retiring bus even if it’s a cameo because I’ve already documented it some time ago and snapping it when it’s due for retirement will just be an extra addition to my gallery. Oh man, the last I’ve properly documented the Mercedes-Benz O405Gs was during this year’s Airshow some time in February. Since then, I have never snapped any of these retiring buses, or only ride them by chance. The Volgren-bodied Volvo B10TLs I feel has received more attention from me when they’re nearing retirement as they’re fully retired earlier than the last few Mercedes-Benz O405Gs will, and that was also before Circuit Breaker changed my mindset about bus spotting. The last I snapped a Volvo B10TL was end-March, just a few days shy from being fully retired.

Yutong E12DD is the newest bus model at the time of writing.

Newer bus models need some love too, right?

If you didn’t notice, I’m leaning more towards documenting new bus models than retiring bus models. Many bus fans will think that it’s an unwise choice by prioritizing new bus models first as the end of its lifespan has many years to come rather than retiring bus models first as they’ll be removed from service sooner or later, but I stand by my opinion. Like I said in the previous heading, I’ve documented these old buses before they’re considered retiring, so I don’t see myself losing out not chasing them when they’re retiring. Like what’s the big deal of chasing old bus models only when they’re retiring when there was a lot more time before? Yes, I agree that newer bus models will be on the roads for a long time, thus there’ll be no shortage of time to document them. That’s where you’re wrong; new bus models receive the most attention on the first few days since debut, but the hype will soon die down after the debut week. Also, if you keep dragging your time to document new bus models, you’ll soon forget this new bus model has existed and won’t bother to find them. To be fair, I also tend not to document new bus models on their first day of service. Like I’ve said earlier, the debut of new bus models is when there’s a lot of hype generated from bus fans. Same ideology applies to new bus routes or even bus interchanges/terminals; you’ll gradually forget they existed if you’re too lazy to document them. So, don’t procrastinate!

Gradually losing interest

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Ever since Circuit Breaker, I’ve gradually started to lose interest in documenting buses. By the time when Circuit Breaker came about, I’ve already documented so many bus models and deployments, so many that there’s nothing enticing to find anymore. The only time I would find myself documenting buses (or even trains) is when a new bus model/route/interchange/terminal makes its debut, a special bus was being redeployed, or simply during transport related open houses. Even so, I’d only find them a few days after debut (except for open houses of course). Nowadays, I also won’t find myself interested in chasing after cameos or even retiring buses, unless I have so much free time and it also depends on the feasibility of spotting that bus.

Closure

That being said, these are the few reasons why I’ve stopped hyping to retiring buses. While many bus fans continued in their pursuit of document retiring buses, they’ve ultimately chosen this path in the first place, not that I could stop them either. Likewise, I’ve also chosen not to be so hyped up over retiring buses anymore since I have a huge gallery of such buses when they’re considered old. I’ve had my fair share of old buses before, so I’m going to wait for the next big thing. Also, please don’t take things for granted! Howard out!

Links to my retiring buses albums:

Mercedes-Benz O405G: https://flic.kr/s/aHskMrK8tn (76 photos)

Volvo B10TL (Volgren): https://flic.kr/s/aHsmnDUdMj (61 photos)

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