Video Review: King Long 6125 Low-Floor City Bus


Steve Skinner tests the King Long 6125 out on the road in the south west streets of Sydney

A strategy to meet growing patronage in Sydney’s south-west sees a King Long — Daewoo urban combination come online at Interline.

A big Australian fleet buy involving a unique combination of King Long body with McConnell and Isri seats, Daewoo chassis, Doosan engine and Allison gearbox has left the starting grid.

Sydney bus operator Joe Oliveri admits he’s a bit of a speed demon.

The family of the racing enthusiast even owned a speedway at one stage.

But when it comes to big-city route and school services, as far as Oliveri is concerned, slow and steady wins the race.

"We need comfort, we don’t need little old ladies falling over and hitting their heads," says Oliveri, the Managing Director of Interline Bus Services based at Macquarie Fields in south-western Sydney.

"We just don’t need insurance claims in our life.

It’s very tight now with the dollars and cents and insurance premiums are climbing every year.

"We want smooth acceleration so that passengers are comfortable hopping on the bus and sitting down." Oliveri is one of the partners in family owned Interline, whose main business is operating 87 buses — including 18 brand new recruits — in the Liverpool and Campbelltown areas.

Average speed for the route work is just 22km/h.

For such stop-start application Oliveri has gone for a 7.6 litre Doosan engine, which has actually been de-rated from its maximum capacity of 335hp (246kW) to 305hp (224kW).

He did need considerable speed, however, in securing 18 new buses for his recently-won contract as sole operator of the Region 2 network in outer southwest Sydney.

In quick time he teamed up with King Long and Daewoo to get the urban route/ school units designed, engineered, built and shipped to Australia.

The first combination of its type in Australia recently began service, providing ABC magazine with the opportunity to spend an enjoyable day co-driving with Oliveri through some of his territory, which includes 80km/h semi-rural roads as well as urban thoroughfares and very tight streets in mushrooming new estates.

Overall verdict from both operator and reviewer: very good. "It was a big decision to purchase these King Long buses.

We think we’ve made the right decision," Oliveri says.

"They’re not as good as Australian-built finish-wise," he says, and on that point we noticed the dress seal on the driver’s protection screen needed re-gluing.

"Strength-wise they seem to be very good, time will tell ... but I’m very confident they will do the job."

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EXPERIENCED HAND

There’s not much Oliveri doesn’t know about buses. Now in his late 50s, Oliveri has been around them since he was a small kid when his father also ran buses in south-western Sydney.

A diesel mechanic by trade, he’s worked in the industry all his life and clearly enjoys it, so it’s quite a compliment to his supplier partners — King Long and Daewoo — that he’s chosen them.

Just why did Oliveri order the unique Asian combination of King Long body, Daewoo chassis and Doosan engine?

"Price," he answers bluntly.

"But when you look behind the price you’re looking at a pretty sturdy chassis and the body looked very strong too.

It’s stainless steel and it’s got the specs we’re looking for at the right price.

"I’ve looked very intensively into that [Doosan] spec motor and to me it sounds good.

A lot of school bus operators run that same motor and they’re quite happy with it."

Oliveri says school operators have racked up considerable kilometres with the Doosan engine, and he was looking to do the same with the King Long — Daewoo configuration.

Turning to the supplier, the Interline contract is quite a breakthrough deal for King Long distributor Heavy Vehicles Australia (HVA).

"This is a new project for us, being the first major city bus project that we’ve undertaken," says HVA National Sales Manager for King Long in Australia, Anthony Fisicaro.

"It’s been a very interesting project, with a lot of areas coming together with a chassis that we haven’t built on before.

"There are some different aspects on the chassis which meant we had to change a lot of areas in the design of the vehicle, so our engineers — both Daewoo and King Long — have been working very hard to get that going through to production.

So that came out really well."

A big advantage for King Long was it had already received all the necessary ticks required by the New South Wales government’s bus procurement panel.

"Back in 2010 Transport for NSW opened up a tender for suppliers to put in a proposal to be selected to be a preferred supplier and we were successful," Fisicaro says.

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OLIVERI IMPRESSED

Oliveri certainly came away impressed from his visit to the giant King Long factory in Xiamen, southern China.

"Very eye opening.

One of the biggest factories I’ve seen in my life — one of the lines is almost a kilometre long," Oliveri recalls.

"But there’s also an research and development testing facility there that just blows your mind.

You see a bus tested on a static stand that twists the bus everywhere, and when we saw that we thought ‘Well if it goes through that type of thing it’s got to handle the roads in Australia for sure’.

Because the Doosan engine sits fairly upright in the chassis, the King Long is also a relatively tall route bus at 3.4m.

The seats at the back are quite high up and there’s a little bit of climbing involved for passengers who want to be back-seat hoods.

One of the prototype buses had to be subjected to a rollover test and it obviously passed muster.

Oliveri says one of the advantages of the upright engine is ease of access for mechanics at the back end of the bus.

There are other mechanic-friendly features, such as a slide-out battery drawer and Anderson plug for fast jumpstarts if they’re needed.

Interline will be doing the regular services itself, but if it has problems there is help close by with Daewoo’s Australian supplier Asia Motors Australia based in the neighbouring suburb of Minto.

Meanwhile King Long has a warehouse at Hoxton Park, also nearby in western Sydney, so there’s plenty of back-up close at hand.

"A whole shipment of parts just came in the last few weeks," Oliveri says.

"They’ve got everything from windscreens to little light globes in the dash and all that kind of stuff — we’re hoping we don’t need it."

Speaking of the simple dash, Oliveri is impressed with the three removable panels, making it easy to get at electronics and heating gear.

The Thoreb multiplexing system enables all sorts of electronic wizardry.

This includes a reversing camera and a bank of half a dozen or so security screens visible to both the driver and passengers, who therefore know they are being watched.

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COMPLETING THE PACKAGE

Interline uses Isringhausen air seats on all its buses, including the new ones.

"Isri is one of the best seats on the market at the moment and we had a lot of workers comp problems with drivers and their backs, so the Isri seats seem to have solved that problem," Oliveri says.

"They’re self-levelling, self-adjusting — it doesn’t matter what weight you are, it bounces nice and smooth and doesn’t wreck your spine."

The passenger seats are comfy McConnell with adequate knee room.

"I made it a point to buy Australian and have some Australian content in," Oliveri says.

"We know they’re reliable because we use them in all the other buses.

"They’re a very strong, sturdy seat. We don’t have many problems with the seat mounts or anything like that.

The American-brand Allison automatic transmission in the King Long is also smooth.

"The Allison actually controls the motor in some ways for fuel effi ciency, acceleration, smoothness in changing gears, all that stuff," Oliveri says.

The Allison retarder has been programmed by Daewoo to activate when you touch the foot brakes, rather than when you take your foot off the throttle or pull a lever.

"We don’t want a heavy retard," Oliveri says.

"We want a nice smooth braking retard that doesn’t throw people through the windscreens, and they seem to be doing the job."

Meanwhile, among other things, the electronic braking system (EBS) detects if the driver is trying to make an emergency stop, and instantaneously activates full braking that split-second quicker.

On the other hand it needs a fair bit of pressure on the brake pedal to get the transmission to change gears, which could prove annoying when the driver is doing it all day.

Overall, however, Oliveri says his drivers have been positive about the new King Longs.

"The drivers are getting used to them, and I’ve had no complaints," he says.

"Power wise, comfort wise, turning circles — everyone seems to be happy with them."

 

PLUSES

• Commissioning operator says good value for money

• Body stress-tested and stainless steel

• Proven chassis, engine, brakes and seats

 

MINUSES

• Minor fi nish issues

• Heavy brake pressure needed to select gears

• Relatively high rear for a route bus

 

STATISTICS

Make/Model: KING LONG 6125AU TWO-DOOR LOW-FLOOR CITY BUS

BODY FRAME: Stainless steel with 10-year structural warranty

DIMENSIONS: Length 12.5m, wheelbase 6.5m, height 3.4m.

SEATING CAPACITY: 48 (seven flip down) with 34 standees

CHASSIS: Daewoo BS120CN

ENGINE: 7.6-litre, 6 cylinder Doosan DL08S, selective catalytic reduction

OUTPUTS: 305hp (224kW); Torque 1,120Nm at 1,000rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed Allison T375R with integrated retarder

BRAKES: Front and rear Knorr-Bremse discs;Wabco EBS

 

See the full review in the August issue of ABC, and subscribe here to secure your copy. 

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