Parliament: Trunk bus services can be ramped up during large-scale rail breakdowns

An improved contingency plan has been put in place after the massive breakdown of the North-South and East-West MRT lines in July 2015, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo in Parliament.
An improved contingency plan has been put in place after the massive breakdown of the North-South and East-West MRT lines in July 2015, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo in Parliament. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Trunk bus services calling at MRT stations hit by delays or breakdowns will be ramped up to provide alternative travel options for commuters, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo.

Depending on the scale of the rail disruption, a number of buses may also be diverted from other routes with lower demand to help ease the crunch, she told Parliament on Monday (Aug 17).

These were parts of an improved contingency plan put in place after last month's massive breakdown of the North-South and East-West lines which affected some 250,000 commuters during peak hour.

Mrs Teo was responding to a question from Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan on whether contingency plans to handle major rail breakdowns, such as the one on July 7, have been reviewed.

She said a review was indeed conducted and it was also found that the contingency plans of rail operator SMRT was "not adequate" to handle the scale of the breakdown. That is why it was understandable that commuters were unhappy.

"The capacity of alternative travel connections between the heartlands and the city needed considerable strengthening, and would have required significantly more resources beyond SMRT's to mitigate the impact," she added.

With the improved contingency plans, commuters will have two travel options - to either use trunk bus services that will be boosted in frequency and capacity, or to use a combination of alternative MRT lines and special bridging buses, said Mrs Teo.

A special bus bridging plan may also be implemented during major disruptions so that commuters in the city can travel via alternative MRT lines to interchanges, such as Bishan, Paya Lebar and Buona Vista, and transfer to bridging buses to towns such as Ang Mo Kio, Woodlands, Tampines and Choa Chu Kang. This special bridging plan will also work in the reverse direction, she explained.

Another consideration for contingencies may be to extend the operating hours of City Direct Services - buses contracted by the Government which carry commuters directly between their neighbourhoods and the city, she said.