Tower Transit vehicle technicians to get tablets

The engineering bays for bus maintenance at Tower Transit's Bulim depot. The facility can accommodate 500 buses. The company said it will start operations progressively from the second quarter of next year.
The engineering bays for bus maintenance at Tower Transit's Bulim depot. The facility can accommodate 500 buses. The company said it will start operations progressively from the second quarter of next year.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Singapore's third bus operator aims to minimise chances of error in maintenance regime

Singapore's third bus operator, Tower Transit, will equip its vehicle technicians with tablets, as part of a maintenance regime to keep buses running without a hitch.

With the tablets, technicians can input inspection and maintenance data directly to a fleet management system. The chances of error in having a separate group of people to key in data from pen-and-paper checklists will be minimised, the company said.

Such a system is being piloted in London, where the Anglo-Australian firm also operates, but Tower Transit yesterday said it will be rolling it out here.

"What we want to avoid at all costs is buses breaking down while they are on the road in service," said Tower Transit Singapore's chief finance officer, Mr Andrew Bujtor.

He added: "With the comprehensive maintenance regime we are implementing and very detailed tracking of all our buses... we are very confident we can identify issues before they happen and rectify them."

Tower Transit, which won a five-year government contract in May to run 26 bus services in the western part of the island, will start operations progressively from the second quarter of next year.

Last week, the second government bus contract was awarded to British firm Go-Ahead, for 25 routes in the Pasir Ris and Punggol areas. Go-Ahead also said its engineers will have tablets to let them access technical information needed to repair and maintain buses.

During a media tour yesterday of the 10ha Bulim bus depot, which can house 500 buses, Tower Transit said it had received a "positive response" from bus captains about joining its ranks.

There are about 500 staff working for incumbent operators SBS Transit and SMRT and whose routes will be taken over by Tower Transit. They have all been offered contracts and have until the end of the year to accept .

Under a tripartite agreement, these employees can choose to either join Tower Transit or be redeployed with their current employers, where possible.

Mr Bujtor also said 30 Singaporeans, who have had no experience as bus captains, have joined the firm.

To give bus captains a comfortable working environment, the depot will have a canteen with a capacity of 300 and a recreational area with ping-pong and foosball tables.

Those who work a split-shift - during the morning and evening peaks with a long downtime in between - will also have a dedicated resting area with loungers.

Mr Bujtor said an open-door policy will ensure that management is easily accessible to staff.

Last month, the firm also announced a job redesign in which bus captains will not have to refuel, wash and park buses at the end of the day. This will be handled by a team of 60 shunters instead.

Tower Transit has said it plans to recruit more than 900 staff, with 750 bus captains. In the lead-up to the launch of its services in the second quarter of next year, it will start training for 120 staff in January.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2015, with the headline 'Tower Transit vehicle technicians to get tablets'. Print Edition | Subscribe