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A MEMORANDUM of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Hino Motors Sales (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (Hino Malaysia) and Handal Indah Sdn Bhd to start a trial run of a low-floor minibus in Johor Bahru.

Known as Hino Poncho, the low-floor, seven-metre minibus will start its trial run within Johor Bahru area under the operation of Handal Indah, one of the largest bus providers operating in Johor and is also known as Causeway Link.

The trial run will cater to Route 10B which travels along route JB City, Pelangi, Sentosa, Pandan, Taman Daya, and Taman Setia Indah for one month starting from today to July 12.

In 2017, Hino Malaysia collaborated with Handal Indah to conduct a trial on Hino’s low-floor 10.5 meter hybrid bus model.

“We have been working together on our past collaboration to run the first hybrid bus in Malaysia supporting economical and clean public transport system. It was an obvious choice to work with Handal Indah again for this Poncho trial in Johor and we are glad that they are as excited as we are to run this,” said Hino Malaysia managing director Atsushi Uchiyama.

“Handal Indah is experienced and provides great insight on the public transportation needs here in Johor Bahru that is valuable in this trial,” he added.

The Poncho is a solution to enable expansion of new routes that were not accessible earlier due to unavailability of low-floor minibuses.

Its small size enables it to easily manoeuvre through narrow city roads and quieter residential areas, while its low floor design, with the “kneeling” function that can be further lowered down, makes it easier to board for senior citizens, children and wheelchaired passengers.

In Japan, there are more than 2,000 Ponchos manoeuvring within the busy cities and narrow roads.

It is designed to match the most innovative community transport solution and deemed as one of the solutions to cater to the first and last-mile travel for passengers.

Hino Malaysia sees the need in “first and last-mile connectivity”, meaning the first and last leg of a person’s travel within the city.

Besides being equipped with flexibility for the special needs passengers, the minibus is able to cater up to 31 including standing passengers.

Designed with a vehicle height adjusting system, this system performs vehicle height lowering and raising control.

The height can be lowered down by 50mm which will enhance the boarding or alighting property at bus stops and with the raising control, the chassis is able to lifted up to 30mm higher to improve driveability on rough roads.

The trial unit Poncho is equipped with its 5.0-litre Euro5 engine, common-rail fuel injection system and five-speed fully automatic transmission, a combination that will help improve the operational cost as it is more fuel-efficient than current buses.