三菱 MK Mitsubishi MK

編號 Class:AM

早於七十年代中期,九巴已經開始研究引進空調巴士服務這個概念,其中一架於一九七五年投入服務的百福YRQ豪華巴士上,被試驗性裝上一台以獨立引擎驅動的空調系統作測試,成為九巴車隊史上首架空調巴士。隨後於一九八零年及八一年,再測試同樣利用獨立引擎驅動空調系統丹尼士喝采及利蘭勝利二型空調客車,再於一九八五年及一九八七年,分別引進二十架丹尼士獵鷹及一架十一米都城嘉慕都城型,兩者的空調系統同樣以主引擎驅動,但可惜上述所有的空調巴士,除了丹尼士獵鷹外全數都是以失敗告終。而空調巴士服務能夠進一步在九巴車隊推廣開來,轉捩點是於一九八七年有關方面需要尋找合適車款,以接替當時碩果僅存,仍然行走往返彩虹及調景嶺之間的90號線上的亞比安13型。最終日本豐田成功向九巴推介配備空調的Coaster小巴,除了滿足原本90號線的需要外,亦安排行走當時唯一未被取消的豪華巴士路線208,以及其他接駁新落成私人屋苑的路線。

眼見空調巴士愈來愈受廣大市民歡迎,九巴不斷向豐田增購新車以滿足需求,但畢竟Coaster只可以運載二十四名乘客,長遠仍然需要尋求載客量更高的巴士,結果同樣來自日本的三菱車廠於一九九零年成功奪得首批四十架新車訂單,向九巴提供旗下的MK117J中型巴士,全數新車於日本裝配原廠車身後才運抵本港。比較Coaster小巴,三菱MK117J除了能夠提供更高載客量(三十五個座位加十個企位),較為寬敞的車廂環境外,其所配置的Allison全自動波箱,遠較豐田小巴的手動波箱來得更先進。還有,當年三菱代理向九巴提供長達十年的保養,相信都是令到九巴向三菱招手的原因。三菱巴士在投入服務所初期是配有收音機讓車長可以播放電台節目,成為收批提供多媒體資訊的專利巴士,但可惜隨後因收到乘客投訴而成絕響。九巴當年除了將三菱MK117J新車投放到203,208及238M外,川行彌敦道的2號線及往返元朗及大埔的64K線亦有加入三菱空調巴士,當中前者因而成為九巴首條提供冷熱混合巴士服務的路線,至於後者的新車亦逐步取代原先的亞比安55型單層巴士,進一步提升了整體服務質素。隨著三菱MK巴士表現滿意,九巴亦不作他想於一九九一年到九三年間進一步增購新車,最終令到MK117J總數達到一百六十八架之多,而在更多三菱巴士投入服務之後,九巴一方面用作取代豐田小巴以滿足需求,另一方面以此進一步擴充空調巴士服務網絡,開拓更多屋邨接駁路線,而以它們作主力的路線包括80M,211,212,234A,234X,270,273,276,282,284,298及299等。

一九九五年再有合共十五架全新三菱巴士(AM169 - 183)加入九巴,型號是屬改良型號的MK217J並跟先前的MK117J一樣,於日本裝嵌完成後才運抵香港,新車在投入服務後主要被安排行走64K及211線。MK217J跟MK117J最大分別在於車頂的空調冷凝器位置,MK217J是安放於車尾頂部,而整體車身線條亦較MK117J來得更加渾圓。三菱於一九九五年尾替九巴帶來一架MK218J(AM184/GP5016)樣板巴士,作為賠償因交通意外而退役的AM64(EV3589)。三菱聲稱MK218J是屬於低地台設計型號,儘管車門依然設有一級梯級,但對比之前的MK117J及MK217J需要攀爬兩級梯級才能進入車廂,已經有所進步。另外,AM184在前軸上的座位是採用橫向設計,而且企位人數亦較其餘兩款MK系中型巴士多出五人,AM184在投入服務之初主要行走2號線,但不久之後便被安排成為荔枝角廠的後備車,其後主要安排行走243R線往返青嶼幹線訪客中心,以及九巴員工的婚禮花車,而自AM184投入服務之後,九巴再沒有採購任何日製巴士。

隨著乘客對空調巴士服務愈見接受,三菱MK中型巴士跟早年的豐田小巴一樣,面對無法滿足乘客需要的問題,細小狹窄的車廂環境亦不利於乘客上落,這個缺點當它們行走於彌敦道走廊的繁忙路線時更加表露無遺。所以當更多不同類型雙層空調巴士投入服務後,三菱巴士便迅即從原有服務的路線退下來,除了成為各大車廠後備車及行走通宵路線之外,便在春秋二祭服務行走14S路線,一條當時只有三菱MK系能夠勝任的路線。另外,隨著原先行走啟德機場路線A7的豐田小巴退役,九巴安排八部MK117J(AM28,39,40,67,77,91,98及108)於加裝行李架之後成為該線主用車,直到路線隨啟德機場於一九九八年七月六日關閉取消,拆除行李架之後返回一般路線服務乘客。因應利蘭勝利二型退役,九巴將若干原以該車型作主力的路線,包括8A,34,73K,78K及79K等路線改派三菱巴士,有關車務調動取得不錯成效,當元朗區路線53,54,76K及77K於二零零一年到零三年先後改作全空調服務時,三菱MK型中型巴士亦成為該等路線的主力。至於二零零一年十二月到翌年六月間營辦的「九龍遊」T1,以及於非典型肺炎期間提供,往返瑪嘉烈醫院及天恩邨的醫護人員接駁路線H1,都是以三菱MK巴士行走,其中前者的用車計有AM62,76,78,80,81,88及100,全數被鬆上特別車身色彩,並曾裝上路訊通以介紹沿途景點,即使在T1線退下來之後,相關系統未有被立即拆除,成為眾多九巴單層巴士中,唯一一批曾裝設路訊通設備。

首架退役的三菱MK如前所述為AM64,於一九九五年行走276時遇上嚴重交通意外而於事後退役,至於AM72(EV2681)則於一九九七年加入九巴訓練學校,在早期擔任訓練巴士時間,披有訓練學校的車身色彩,但在後期時間外觀上與其他同僚看齊,唯一能夠分辨出它是訓練巴士的身份,就是欠缺了八達通收費機以及車廂報站系統,AM72一直在九巴訓練學校服務了十三個寒暑,最終於二零一零年退役。二零零二年先後有多架三菱MK巴士因為涉及嚴重交通意外而需要提早退役,當中包括九巴車隊中最後一架MK系的AM184。從二零零三年開始,九巴便有計劃地逐步淘汰三菱MK117J,原先由它們作主力的路線,在客觀環境許可都逐漸換成其他雙層空調巴士,只有若干路線由同廠MK217J,丹尼士飛鏢及其他簇新單層超低地台巴士取代它們的位置,最後兩架MK117J亦於二零一一年六月退役。至於餘下的十五架三菱MK217J,則由二零一二年三月開始退役,退役前主要行走53,77K,203及276路線,而當它們全數離開九巴車隊後,標誌日製巴士在九巴車隊歷史中寫下了一個句號。

The concept of air-conditioned bus service was aroused in the mid. of 1970s and an auxiliary engine powered air-conditioning unit was fitted on a Bedford YRQ coach in 1975 for evaluation which was the first air-conditioned bus in KMB. A pair of air-conditioned double deckers, the Dennis Jubilant and Leyland Victory Mk 2, also the air-conditioning unit was driven by an auxiliary engine were started evaluation since 1980 and 1981 respectively. Unfortunately, these evaluation were considered as unsatisfied due to the high running cost and poor performance of the air-conditioning unit. Further air-conditioned bus evaluation was started with the introduction of a batch of 20 Dennis Falcon and a sole MCW Metrobus were introduced in 1985 and 1987 respectively and all of them was featured with an air-conditioning driven by the main engine. Only the trial of Falcon was success and further introduction of air-conditioned bus was based on the fleet replacement of route 90 in 1987.

The Albion CH13AXL used to serve route 90 linking Choi Hung and Rennie's Mill was the only bus model suitable for the route and reached the end of their service life in 1987. Toyota from Japan was successfully supplied Coaster minibus with air-conditioning as a replacement and not only satisfy the need of route 90, but also upgraded the service standard of route 208 which is the only coach service survived. In addition, with more and more Toyota Coaster acquired, KMB extended the networks by opening new feeder services linking newly developed private housing estate.

The air-conditioned bus service was widely welcomed by general public and as Toyota Coaster can only accommodate 24 seatings passengers, KMB started to seek for air-conditioned bus with higher carrying capacity and finally a batch of 40 MK117J midibus supplied by Mitsubishi in Japan was delivered completely-build-up in 1990 and a 10-year warranty service from local dealer was provided. Compared to the Toyota Coaster, a wider compartment was offered on the MK-series with 45 passengers can be carried with 35 seatings offered. To go one step further, fully automatic transmission supplied by Allison can be found on MK117J in contrast to the manual transmission on the Coaster and bus captain can drive with ease was resulted. Radio broadcasting was available during the early days of their service, however, this was stopped after receiving complaints from commuters. The Mitsubishi MK117J was not only first deployed on route 203, 208 and 238M, but also introduced to route 2 and 64K to upgrade the service standard. It should be mentioned that route 2 running along Nathan Road was the first service operated by both conventional and air-conditioned buses while those MK put on route 64K was as the replacement of Albion EVK55CL. Further order of 148 Mitsubishi MK117J was made between 1991 and 1993 and they were gradually took the place of Toyota Coaster and strengthen the air-conditioned bus service network and mainly serving route 80M, 211, 212, 234A, 234X, 270, 273, 276, 282, 284, 298 and 299, etc.

We saw KMB took the delivery of 15 Mitsubishi MK217J (AM169 - 183), an improved version of MK117J from Mitsubishi in 1995. MK217 can be easily distinguished from the MK117J by their streamlined bodywork and the roof-mouted air-conditioning unit at the rear. As the MK117J introduced before, the MK217J was delivered completely-build-up from Japan and they were mainly seen on route 64K and 211 after their commission. As compensated the lost of AM64(EV3589) which involved with a serious traffic accident, a MK218J demonstrator (AM184/GP5016) joined KMB in the end of 1995 and it was the last bus to be made in Japan in the fleet. Mitsubishi claimed that MK218J was a low floor version of MK217J though there still a step at the entrance, in contrast to two steps design on both MK117J and MK217J. Moreover, it also had a slightly different compartment layout with inward facing seats fitted on the front axle wheel well and 5 more standees was available. AM184 was first served route 2 after registration and soon taken out from the route as reserve bus of Lai Chi Kok before as a schedule bus of recreation route 243R or wedding bus for KMB staff.

Mitsubishi MK facing the same problem of Toyota Coaster, they cannot meet the demand and the narrow passway causing inconvenience to the passengers especially on the trunk service. They were soon replaced by air-conditioned double deckers and except as reserve bus or serving overnight routes, the MK-series mainly serving special service 14S operated during Ching Ming and Chung Yeung Festival. Luggage racks was fitted on the following MK117J, AM28, 39, 40, 67, 88, 91, 98 and 108, for Airbus service A7 to cope with the retirement of the Toyota Coaster. These Mitsubishi MK117J was restored to original compartment layout after the cancellation of the service when Kai Tak Airport ceased operation on 6 Jul., 1998. As the decommissioned of the Victory Mk2, KMB converted some of the routes like 8A, 34, 73K, 78K and 79K used to serve by the Victory into full air-conditioned operation with the Mitsubishi MK midibus and as their performance on these routes was satisfactory. MK-series further find their new home on route 53, 54, 76K and 77K when the above services fully operated by air-conditioned buses between 2001 and 2003.

Two more service operated by Mitsubishi MK should be mentioned, the "Kowloon Circle" T1 and medical staff service H1. The former service was operated by a fleet of 7 Mitsubishi MK117J (AM62, 76, 78, 80, 81, 88 and 100) decorated with specific livery and Roadshow was installed for introduction of the sightseeing point along the route. The multi-media system was retained even after the withdrawal of the service and they were the only single decker to be fitted with Roadshow in KMB fleet. Route H1, a special medical staff shuttle service operated between 28 Apr., and 27 May, 2003 linking Tin Yan and Princess Margaret Hospital during SARS in 2003 and a pair of MK117J was deployed on the route.

The first Mitsubishi MK withdrawn from the fleet was AM64 in 1995 as mentioned above which serious damaged after a traffic accident when working on route 276. AM72 was joined KMB training school in 1997 and though the training school liver was later repainted with standard KMB livery, it training bus identity still can be easily recognized as no Octopus payment machine and next stop announcement system installed. It was unfortunate for several Mitsubishi MK included the sole MK218J to be written off in 2002 as a result of traffic accident. MK117J was started to withdraw from the fleet since 2003 and they were gradually replaced by air-conditioned double deckers, MK217J, Dennis Dart or other brand new super low floor single decker. The last two MK117J was withdrawn in Jun., 2011 and the remaining MK217J still active in serving route 53, 77K, 203 and 276 before their fully retirement in Mar., 2012. There were no more Japanese product in KMB fleet after the Mitsubishi.


AM1-40

AM41-80

AM81-120

AM121-168

AM169-184


回到上一目錄 Back To Last Index

回到主頁 Back To Main