SYDNEY’S NORTHERN BEACHES GETS ON-DEMAND PONCHO BUSES

Photography by: courtesy Hino Australia


FOUR NEW Poncho ‘small buses’ have been added to Keolis Downer’s Keoride on-demand transport service in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Hino Australia has confirmed.

SYDNEY’S NORTHERN BEACHES GETS ON-DEMAND PONCHO BUSES
The Poncho buses were customised specifically for the new Keoride service with additional options such as CCTV and fire suppression systems for added safety and flip-out wheelchair ramps for increased accessibility, says Hino.

Keoride became a permanent transport service on 31 October, 2021, following a four-year on-demand trial that began in 2017, the operator explains. In the Northern Beaches it was one of the first NSW on-demand transport trial services, connecting customers from their homes to the nearest transport hubs at Avalon, Narrabeen, Warriewood and Mona Vale, it adds.

Keolis Downer Northern Beaches managing director Mark Dunlop, says the Poncho’s safety and accessibility features, plus compact design and manoeuvrability, were of particular appeal for the Keoride service.

"The tight turning radius, size and handling of the Poncho make it well-suited to narrow and sometimes challenging geography of the Northern Beaches," said Dunlop.

"Giving the local community access to shared trips that allow more flexibility and convenience has encouraged the use of public transport," he added. 

The innovative on-demand service is proving very popular with the Northern Beaches community, allowing customers to use the Keoride app to book a vehicle from near their home, a designated point of interest within the service area, or the nearest bus stop - and drop them at the nearest transport hub, such as the B-Line bus service, Keolis Downer states.

For Hino Australia’s manager – Bus, Sara Clark, the Poncho is a popular choice for on-demand operators, who are attracted to its versatility in delivering flexible transport services.

"Operators appreciate our ability to work with them to provide mobility solutions that best suit the requirements of their fleet while the Poncho’s safety, passenger comfort and accessibility appeal to patrons who use the service," Clark stated.

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BESPOKE BUSES

The Poncho buses were customised specifically for the new Keoride service with additional options such as CCTV and fire suppression systems for added safety and flip-out wheelchair ramps for increased accessibility, says Hino.

The Ponchos’ innovative kerb-kneeling technology, wheelchair ramp and dedicated wheelchair space inside provides level entry for all passengers, Hino explains.

This feature also allows for passengers with prams to easily access the vehicle and safely transport infants, expanding the on-demand service to a wider community, it adds.

For safety, the Poncho’s large 850mm sliding door features sensitive touch technology and sensors near the entrance, which stop the door from closing if there is an obstruction, it says.

The door is also prevented from opening until the bus is in neutral and has come to a complete stop; drive and reverse can only be selected again once the door is fully closed, Hino confirms.

"Poncho drivers benefit from a comprehensive field of vision which includes an infrared, night-vision enabled reverse camera that is perfect for night-time operations," Clark stated.

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FACTORY BENEFITS

Measuring less than 7m in length, the Hino Poncho is both highly manoeuvrable and well-equipped, with features such as power steering, telescopic and tilt-adjustable steering column, three-way adjustable driver’s seat, and airbag suspension system with stabilisers, Hino says.

Poncho drivers benefit from a standard five-speed Aisin A500 true automatic transmission, making stop-start operations both easier and more efficient, it states.

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