Buses more frequent but still tight on space

BUT STILL PACKED: The service 106 bus by the time it reached Bukit Batok East Avenue 3 at around 8.30am. Commuters feel some services are still too crowded. SHORTER WAITING TIMES...: Commuters boarding service 106 at Bukit Batok bus interchange. Peak
BUT STILL PACKED: The service 106 bus by the time it reached Bukit Batok East Avenue 3 at around 8.30am. Commuters feel some services are still too crowded. SHORTER WAITING TIMES...: Commuters boarding service 106 at Bukit Batok bus interchange. Peak-hour waiting times have been cut to seven minutes. Some said it took as long as 20 minutes before.ST PHOTOS: YEO SAM JO
BUS SERVICE 106 - SHORTER WAITING TIMES...: Commuters boarding service 106 at Bukit Batok bus interchange. Peak-hour waiting times have been cut to seven minutes. Some said it took as long as 20 minutes before. -- ST PHOTO: YEO SAM JO
BUS SERVICE 106 - SHORTER WAITING TIMES...: Commuters boarding service 106 at Bukit Batok bus interchange. Peak-hour waiting times have been cut to seven minutes. Some said it took as long as 20 minutes before. -- ST PHOTO: YEO SAM JO

Commuters glad of extra buses in govt scheme but say 'more, please'

COMMUTERS are reporting shorter peak-period waiting times after the Government put 250 extra buses on the road.

But crowding and a lack of seats remain a gripe.

Over three days this week, The Straits Times spoke to 60 commuters taking services 72, 106 and 922 between 7.30am and 9am. These three routes are among the 111 to get more buses under the $1.1 billion Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP).

Most commuters agreed they did not have to wait as long for buses since the scheme started its roll-out last September.

"I used to wait about five to six minutes," said Secondary 5 student Siti Adilah.

For the last five years, Siti has been taking service 72, which travels between Yio Chu Kang and Tampines.

But the buses now come at two-minute intervals during morning peak hours, although lines were long in Yio Chu Kang when The Straits Times was there.

Commuters who took service 106, which runs from the Bukit Batok bus interchange to Shenton Way, were pleased waiting times have been cut to seven minutes. Some said it took as long as 20 minutes before for a bus to arrive.

"It used to take forever," said 27-year-old engineer Alex Yeo. "Now it's much better."

In Bukit Panjang, those using feeder bus service 922 said they now wait for about 15 minutes, instead of half an hour in the past. Buses were also less crowded.

Said retiree Wilson Lim, 45: "It's better now, but I think we need even more buses. There are new flats and schools coming up in this area. Crowding might get worse then."

Commuters felt that bus services 72 and 106 were still too crowded.

Second-year Institute of Technical Education student Muhammad Afham, 20, who takes service 72 to school, said: "By the time the bus reaches Hougang - the middle of the route - people sometimes cannot board."

Over at Bukit Batok, technician Lim Boon Cheong, 50, noted: "It's still the same crowd during peak hours. They should have more double-decker buses."

Mr Ismail Rohidi, an officer with the PUB, complained about just missing a service 106 bus because it did not have space to get on.

"There were too many people," the 55-year-old said.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA), which is handling the BSEP, has said improvements will continue to gain pace as the bulk of the scheme is implemented between now and the end of next year.

So far, just 10 per cent of the $1.1 billion budget has been spent.

First of all, more buses will be added to another 20 existing services in the coming months, said LTA, adding that details will be revealed later.

Two short trunk routes will also be introduced by the end of this year to serve residents in Taman Jurong and Bukit Panjang.

"A route with higher ridership demand would have more higher-capacity buses such as double deckers or bendy buses. Less popular routes may be operated by single-deck buses," it said.

LTA added that it will continue to monitor existing bus services and work with public transport operators to target those with the highest ridership.

limyihan@sph.com.sg

linettel@sph.com.sg

yeosamjo@sph.com.sg

REPORT CARD

The Straits Times goes on the ground to see how bus service 106 and two others fare in terms of waiting times and crowding.

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Shorter wait, but  buses still packed