SMRT to get more than 100 double-decker buses

Addition of over 100 such buses will boost capacity on city-bound routes

In A move to increase capacity, SMRT will add more than 100 double-decker buses to its fleet in batches from June.

The public transport operator currently only has regular and "bendy" buses plying the roads.

Speaking during a media preview of its revamped "learning journey" yesterday, SMRT Buses vice-president Tan Kian Heong said the double-deckers will be deployed on longer routes from residential estates to the city.

Mr Tan noted that while the double-deckers will be useful for adding capacity on services into the city, they are not as suitable for heavily-used feeder routes.

He said it would be inconvenient for commuters to climb up to and down from the upper deck when they may only be taking the bus for a short distance.

SMRT has 1,263 buses in its fleet, and about 2,500 drivers. It operates bus services from Yishun, Sembawang, Woodlands, Bukit Panjang, Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Batok.

More buses are on the way under the Bus Service Enhancement Programme, which the Government will further boost with an additional 450 state-funded buses. Mr Tan said SMRT is still actively hiring more drivers.

The new double-deckers are part of several initiatives SMRT is implementing to improve the commuting experience, he said.

The operator has also conducted a trial of a telematics system for its buses - essentially a "black box" that will record and transmit data during a journey.

Mr Tan said these "black boxes" will be installed on SMRT's bus fleet over time, and allow the operator to track the driving behaviour of its drivers.

"We will know whether the bus driver is speeding, or making sharp turns," he said.

"With it, we are able to ensure the comfort and safety of passengers on the road."

In the longer term, the plan is to analyse the data gathered to identify potential problem areas.

On a new livery that is being rolled out for its buses, he said this would be done in a "prudent" and "calibrated" manner.

Only new buses or those that require a fresh coat of paint will get the facelift, he said, so no additional resources are wasted. Repainting all its buses should take between three and five years.

Bukit Panjang resident Toh Boon Teck, 28, said that although city-bound buses from his estate are already less crowded on weekends, the "double- deckers will help in the morning peak hours".

roysim@sph.com.sg