Hino  is celebrating  a milestone, having delivered the 50th Poncho bus pointing to its size, versatility, comfort and the ability to customise it as key attributes in helping the small-sized bus establish itself in new markets in Australia.

“When it was introduced in 2017, we believed the Poncho bus would be of particular interest to community transport applications such as aged care, disability and special needs providers, schools and universities,” said Sara Clark, Manager of Hino Bus for Hino Australia.

“In addition to these markets, it has quickly established a niche for itself in on-demand services and for use in new greenfield areas such as the new Canberra suburb of Strathnairn, where two Ponchos are currently operating as free community shuttle bus services.”

The innovative on-demand service applications make up more than half of the Poncho sales volume, primarily in Sydney, followed by short route services such as Strathnairn.

Provided to residents of the newly-developed Strathnairn suburb by the Ginninderry Joint Venture, this free public transport service links its first residents with the broader Canberra bus network where commuters can access regular rapid services.

“Ginninderry’s choice of the Poncho for the Strathnairn service is an example of the right product for the application,” continued Ms Clark.

“The Poncho is a small urban bus option offering accessibility and comfort for all types of passengers, making it ideal for developing route services.”

These Ponchos were customised specifically for Transport Canberra operations to increase comfort for drivers and passengers including a lower inside back step; an ISRI 6860 air suspension driver’s seat; driver’s window blind, water bottle holder and perspex sun visor.

Both buses are also fitted with CCTV and handles for the driver to lift the wheelchair ramp and to assist passengers to embark/disembark.

“We are delighted to have the Strathnairn bus service up and running for our new residents,” said Jessica Stewart, Sustainability Manager for Ginninderry.

“The Poncho buses allows our new residents to have access to a public transport system from when they move in to their new home – rather than waiting many years for a full Transport Canberra service to be provided.

“The size and accessibility inclusions of the Poncho have made it a perfect fit for Ginninderry – the Hino team has gone above and beyond to ensure that the Poncho has met the needs of our residents, the bus drivers and government regulations.”

A key to the Poncho’s success is that it is fully compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA), well ahead of the Act being mandated in 2022.

Ultra-modern in appearance, the attractive Hino Poncho bus has an ultra-low floor design with a kerb kneeling function, wheelchair ramp and a dedicated wheelchair space inside.

This means that wheelchair boarding takes less than a minute compared to a traditional small bus in which wheelchair access can take up to 20 minutes.

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. 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.

]Measuring under seven metres in length and featuring a tight turning radius, 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 air bag suspension system with stabilisers.

A rear-mounted J05E-TS 4-cylinder common-rail turbo-diesel engine produces 180Hp (132kW) and 530Nm of torque while meeting Australian emission standards via a DPR emissions control system.

Its driver benefits from a standard five-speed Aisin A500 true automatic transmission, making stop-start operations both easier and more efficient.

Poncho safety features include three emergency exit points, air-over-hydraulic brakes with ABS, and a comprehensive field of vision which includes an infrared night-vision enabled reverse camera.