Lucerne City - Day 4

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Lucerne Bus Spotting

Unlike Zurich where (diesel) buses services are generally dispersed, Luzern Bahnhof serves as the major hub for urban and regional bus services in Lucerne. Furthermore, regional services are operated by PostAuto and two private companies, instead of (contractors for) the municipal operator. In addition, the municipal operator of Lucerne does not view the corporate livery as a strong identity for the city, and allows for all over advertisements. All these factors make bus spotting in Lucerne more attractive than in Zurich.

A VBL Mercedes Benz Citaro departing the terminal on service 21. The bus is adorned with special stickers by the operator to congratulate the 150th anniversary of Muzikschule Luzern (Lucerne Music School). The city hosts the Lucerne Festival during summer each year which features performances by the resident orchestra as well as other high profile guest orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra
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Fleet number 143 is a VBL Mercedes Benz Citaro G and sports a full body advertisement for Stalder Real Estate & Finance. Such full body advertisements are considered rare in Switzerland, with no mention of the operator on the ad at all!
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A VBL Hess BGT-N2C 'Swiss Trolley 3' trolleybus working route 7 to Biregghof via Luzern Bahnhof. The top fairing of the bodywork had also been creatively used for advertising purposes.
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We were pleasantly surprised to spot fleet number 190, as we had previously thought that the NAW articulated trolleybuses had been totally phased out from service. Apart from wearing the previous iteration of the VBL livery which featured a larger swath of blue on the body, this particular bus also has a sticker at the front of the bus which apparently recognised that the vehicle had accumulated a mileage of more than one million kilometres - certainly a reliable workhorse for the company!
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A VBL Setra S431DT 14m tri-axle double-deck coach laying over at Lucerne Bahnhof terminal. The coach was photographed operating a peak hour express service between Lucerne and Altdorf in the canton of Uri which is located at the far end of Lake Lucerne using the Seelisbergtunnel. The Tellbus Altdorf route is jointly operated by VBL and Auto AG Uri and is also reflected on the Lucerne S-bahn network plan.
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Auto AG is another major citybus operator that operates suburban routes from Lucerne Bahnhof. Service 51 to Rain is operated by the groups's Rothenburg division and one of the division's Irisbus Citelis articulated bus was photographed departing the bahnhof terminal.
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A Solaris Urbino 12 operated by Rottal Auto AG was photographed working service 61 to Buttisholz. Despite the relatively large volume of buses, it was a challenge as we had to contend with pedestrians and other road traffic that were preventing a clear shot of the buses.
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This Auto AG Rothenburg MAN articulated bus on service 53 has a special livery to promote the operator's night services.
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As one of the main arteries that link the heart of Lucerne's historic district to the north and the newer developments in the south, Schweizerhofquai proved to be a very productive camping location for photos of tourist coaches.

The driver taking the opportunity to show off for the camera. Albissler Volvo coach with the distinctive Drögmöller bodywork which features a sloping window line.
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Maaskant Reizen Scania with Irizar PB bodywork. This bodywork is also produced by MTrans (now Scomi) of Malaysia and is thus a very common sight in Malaysia and Singapore as well as to a lesser extent, in Hong Kong. However, MTrans was apparently only given the permission to produce the bodywork for the domestic market by Irizar after much negotiations and was later ordered to cease production of the bodywork. Mtrans subsequently launched a similar design but with slightly altered front and rear portions in 2008. In addition, the livery of one of the private operators in Singapore, Ming Yu Jiang, also looks uncannily similar to this operator from the Netherlands!
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A tri-axle Scania coach with Irizar Century bodywork operating for Helmut Schröder of Germany.
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An Italian registered coach fitted Iveco EuroClass HD body. This bodywork had won the Coach of the Year award in 1995 and bears a striking resemblance to a bodywork produced by Transcoach of Malaysia.
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A real classic! A Neoplan Cityliner hi-decker coach with an equally retro livery from the Baltic country of Lithuania.
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VanHool Astromega TD 927 double deck touring coach operated by Meyering Reisen of Germany.
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A 13m King Long XMQ6130Y operated by Italian tour company Viaggi Adriano. We had certainly not counted on seeing a Chinese tour coach in continental Europe and much less in Switzerland especially with such a good variety of quality coaches available in the market!
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Postauto Setra N319NF

When photo-taking became increasingly challenging, we gathered at the exit driveway of the bus terminal for some photos while waiting for a PostAuto tri-axle 15m Setra N319NF low floor bus to clear our joyride target. We did not have to wait too long as the frequency of PostAuto Services 72 and 73 had been increased for the evening peak hour.

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Being a comparitively small city with the suburban development concentrated to the west in Kriens, we left the built-up area after 5mins in the journey and passed through the towns of Ebikon and Adlingeswil as well as a number of small isolated communities during the trip. The two small hopper windows on each side of the 15m bus were clearly inadequate to provide sufficient ventilation and led to a stuffy cabin. The uncomfortable ride distracted us from paying closer attention to the engine sound and gear changes, and we ended up not particularly impressed with the bus.



Our bus was a shortworking trip of route 73 and terminated at UdligenswilI. It only seemed natural that a PostAuto service would terminate and layover in front of the town's post office!
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Interior of the PostAuto Setra tri-axle N319NF. The low floor bus has three doors, but there is a single step at the rear most door. The design of the grey based seat fabric also incorporates the signature PostAuto horn logo.
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Dashboard of the Setra N319NF. Upon noticing our interest in his bus and that we are bus enthusiasts, the driver commented that the bus is “already” 3 years old and a new and more comfortable Mercedes bus would arrive one minute later in the opposite direction to bring us back to Luzern Bahnhof.
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We were skeptical that he could provide us with such detailed information about the next trip in the opposite direction, and indeed his information was only slightly off - a Mercedes Benz Citaro L dutifully turned up in two minutes instead of one minute as claimed!
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It was our first ride on an air-conditioned bus in Switzerland, but the air-con was just sufficient to keep fresh air circulating in the cabin. Aside from the novelty of a 15m Citaro, the ride quality was similar to the other Citaros which we had taken before elsewhere. Our bus was caught up in heavy traffic as we were entering the city centre along Dreilindenstrasse which only had one lane in each direction.

While it was surprising to encounter congestion in Switzerland, we were particularly impressed by Swiss driver who patiently queued up in their designated lane while leaving the bus lane empty for its rightful uses along Stadthofstrasse. Our bus eventually returned to Luzern Bahnhof 10 minutes behind schedule and departed immediately without laying over to maintain the schedule.

Fleet number 22, Mercedes Benz Citaro L, at Lucerne Bahnhof terminal. The Postauto services are contracted out to the different operators and as such, the fleet numbers are often only unique to the respective operators. In addition, many operators also reuse the fleet numbers when the fleet is renewed.
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Lucerne Old Town

After returning to the city centre, we proceeded with a walking tour of Chapel Bridge and the old town. We were also kept amused and entertained by the flocks of swans in the lake and the Reuss River while admiring the oversized Swiss flags that were hung along the sides of Schweizerhofquai.

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View of Lake Lucerne towards the north from the SGV pier located besides the Lucerne Bahnhof bus terminal.
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It is certainly not easy being a duck in this part of the city where swans are the overwhelming majority of the feathered kind.
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It seemed that the swans are organised in a manner akin to a 'mafia', and two of the swans were immediately despatched to tail us while we were walking along the river towards the Chapel Bridge. It was intriguing to note that the swans seemed to mimic our every move and paused whenever we paused, or sped up as we quickened our pace. Most unfortunately, the swans had to be disappointed despite their concerted effort as we had nothing to feed them with unlike many visitors.
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The Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) spans diagonally across the Reuss River (photographed with Mt Pilatus in the background) and is the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe.The bridge itself was built in 1333 to link the old town on the north bank and new town on the south bank as part of the fortification, and had since evolved into an icon of Lucerne. The octagonal 140m tall Water Tower is one of the defining features of the structure and had predated the bridge by about 30 years. Throughout the centuries, the tower had been used as a prison, torture chamber, and later a municipal archive. Today, a gift shop occupies the lowest level of the tower, while the rest of the tower is used by a local association and not accessible to the general public.
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The name of the bridge is derived from St Peter’s Chapel, for which it once led directly into, but is now separated by the riverside promenade.
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A unique feature of the bridge is the paintings from the 17th century under the roof that depicts the events from the city's history, but a fire on 18 August 1993 (allegedly due to a stray cigarette butt) burnt 85 of the 110 paintings, of which only 25 could be saved and restored. Paintings from another section of the bridge, which was demolished in 1834 and has been safely stored away, were put to good use as replacements.
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The bridge was reconstructed and opened again on 14 April 1994, but some burnt paintings and beams have been retained to serve as reminder of the fire.
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The Rathaussteg (City Hall Bridge) and the Jesuitenkirche (Jesuit Church) in the background with its distinctive onion domed spires lit in the warm glow of the evening sun.
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At the other bank of the river, we continued strolling along the waterfront, while also looking out for potential restaurants for dinner as we did not want to have fast food again.

The elaborate artwork on the facade of Restaurant Fritschi which is famous for its specialty cheese fondues. We initially wanted to have our dinner and try out the fondues but it was apparently so popular that it only entertains patrons with advance reservation.
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We chanced upon a lively event hosted by the Switzerland’s inter-professional trade union, Unia at Kapellplatz behind St Peter’s Chapel.
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Our hunt for dinner brought us through the high-end shopping area of Schwanenplatz (Swan’s Place). One watch and jewellery shop is apparently frequented by so many Chinese tour groups that it had put up a banner with Chinese translation of all the renowned brands sold in the shop!
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We eventually decided to have Italian cuisine again at Restaurant Einhorn-Pizzeria da Tommaso, with the majority of us choosing to have risotto.
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The sticky appearance did not look particularly appetizing on first glance, but the taste was actually quite good, especially with ground black pepper as garnishing. Risotto mit fungi (mushrooms) = CHF 22. Sparkling Apple Juice: CHF4.50.
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After dinner, we hopped on a bus for a short ride to the main station instead of walking back from Schwanenplatz. Passepartout is the equivalent of ZVV in Zurich and serves as a coordinating agency for fare collection and integrated transport information. In addition, the elaborate bus shelter also serves as a betting outlet for the Swiss Lottery which has a decidedly inauspicious name, Lotto Lose as one of its products.
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Scania N94UB (Midi)

Lucerne does not seem to have much luck with avoiding fires, and the former railway station was almost completely razed to the ground on 5 February 1971 although it was fortunate that nobody was killed in the unfortunate event. This impressive entrance gateway at the front of the current bahnhof was from the structure of the former railway station, and had been preserved as link to the past.
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A criss-cross jumble of overhead trolleybus lines at dusk. Although trolleybuses and trams offer an environmentally friendly option as compared to diesel buses, there are no doubt drawbacks as such supporting infrastructure can mar the beauty of the cityscape.
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After a few photos at the terminal, we decided to embark on our final joyride target for the day - a Scania midibus. We had observed from our photo camping that the Scanias are deployed on Services 9, 10 and 11. After studying the schematic diagram carefully, we decided on Service 10 as the top choice as it serves an area which we had not been to.

A Scania N94UB midibus departing from the adjacent berth at Lucerne Bahnhof terminal.
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We were delighted that the Scania was an older 4 series from the dashboard and therefore would not sound similar to its 1100 Scania 5 series cousins that were flooding the streets back home in Singapore.
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Interior of a Scania N94UB midibus. Even with the shortened length, three doors are provided to speed up the flow of passengers at bus stops although the rearmost door only has one leaf instead of two.
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The bus began an effortless climb into a residential neighbourhood after a few stops in the downtown area and the driver maneuvered the numerous turns skillfully. It was certainly the most satisfying bus ride thus far, especially when the bus cruised smoothly downhill. A check with Google Earth revealed that the bus scaled a height difference of around 130m along 1.9km of road in the hilly sector, or an average gradient of 7.9% which is overall steeper than the Uetliberg Railway.


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Mt Pilatus - Day 4

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