New buses to be added to 26 routes to ease congestion
Photo: Dylan Loh
From Monday, commuters should see less crowded and more frequent bus services across Singapore.
28 new buses are being added to 26 routes with heavy ridership during the morning and evening peak periods.
The new buses will add 335 more weekly bus trips to these 26 routes.
And by year-end, more than 25 new buses will be added to about as many routes, along with the introduction of five new services which will get 37 new buses.
Speaking to reporters during a visit of Yishun Bus Interchange, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said one of the five new services will run a route parallel to the existing rail network.
He said in the coming years, some 40 new services will be added, with up to eight of them running parallel to train lines.
Mr Lui said he hopes to implement more of such parallel services in the first quarter of next year, as the new routes to be rolled out for the first half of 2013 are being finalised.
The next time you see a bus pull up, it could be one of the 550 brand new ones under the government's 1.1 billion-dollar Bus Service Enhancement Programme.
The programme seeks to ramp up bus capacity over the next five years.
By December 2012, more than 90 new buses in all, will beef up some 50 existing routes.
Places like Shenton Way in central Singapore, and estates like Bishan, Ang Mo Kio and Punggol will see more frequent buses.
Service 922, a loop service from Bukit Panjang Bus Interchange to Bangkit Road, currently operates at a frequency of 23 to 24 minutes during the morning peak period, and 24 to 25 minutes during evening peak hours.
With enhancements, it will operate at a frequency of 12 to 15 minutes during the morning peak period, and 12 to 17 minutes during evening peak hours.
Many commuters welcomed the improvements.
"It's about time. Because the crowding in buses is getting a bit too much."
"I actually take a very crowded bus home everyday. I don't think it really helps because the crowd comes in really fast."
"Best is to reduce waiting time. Because once you reduce waiting time I think the crowded problem will be solved."
"For people who take the buses regularly to go to work and to school I think it would certainly be helpful. Although, then again, with traffic congestion, it could defeat the whole purpose."
Additional buses will also serve new routes to be introduced by December.
The routes will cover places like Tampines, Punggol, Hougang, Bishan and the central business district.
One new service is 860, which promises better connectivity to schools and community centres for Yishun residents.
Another is an extension of the bus route for Service 119, which will connect Punggol to Sengkang.
Both services will start on 21st October.
Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said in deciding the services, feedback was taken from grassroots leaders and advisors.
"Now, really, everybody wants the new services, the additional buses as quickly as possible. We're going to try and do our best. But there are constraints of course, both in terms of the drivers and also making sure that we've got proper places to park the new buses."
Mr Lui said if the constraints can be overcome, the rollout of the Bus Service Enhancement Programme may be completed in less than the five years envisioned.
He said over time, 95 per cent of feeder buses will come in 10 minutes or less, once the increased frequency of services takes effect.
Mr Lui said the two public transport operators, SMRT and SBS Transit, have managed to recruit 150 more bus drivers from January to August this year, compared with the same period in 2011.
This has helped with the roll-out of bus improvements.
The operators expect to hire about 360 more bus drivers till the end of the year.
And with more buses on roads, the Government is looking at extending bus lanes and the mandatory give-way-to-buses scheme, said Mr Lui.
The Land Transport Authority will step up audits and checks on public transport operators where service quality is concerned.
By end-2014, operators will be required to reduce passenger loading levels for all basic bus services to 85 per cent - from the current 95 per cent of their licensed capacity.
-By Dylan Loh
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