7 City Direct bus services extended for another year

A City Direct bus picking up passengers from the business district at around 6pm last Thursday. There are 15 such services in operation currently.
A City Direct bus picking up passengers from the business district at around 6pm last Thursday. There are 15 such services in operation currently. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Robust ridership on heartland-CBD routes leads LTA to renew private bus scheme

The City Direct bus programme has found favour with commuters, and the first seven services launched under the scheme are being extended for another year.

The seven routes, which are operated by private bus firms on two-year government contracts, were progressively implemented between September 2013 and February 2014.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it has exercised an option under the contracts to renew these services by another year, which means the routes will continue to run up to between September this year and February next year.

The services, which are numbered 651 to 657, serve heartland estates in Jurong West, Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Batok/Hillview, Sengkang, West Coast, Sembawang and Jurong East.

COMFORTABLE RIDE

If I take the train, I have to squeeze with other commuters, but I can get a seat on City Direct.

MR JONATHAN SOH, a supply chain representative who takes bus number 657 and pays $2.50 per trip.

There are 15 such services in operation currently, ferrying commuters from their homes to the Central Business District (CBD) during the morning peak hours, with return journeys in the evenings.

As such a bus makes minimal stops and uses expressways, its travelling times are comparable with that of taking a feeder bus or LRT and transferring to the MRT.

An LTA spokesman said the response to the scheme has been positive, with the majority of the routes seeing an increasing number of trips, particularly during the morning peak periods.

In fact, services 652 and 653 currently have five trips and six trips respectively during the morning peak periods, up from two initially.

There are around 40 to 50 passengers on each trip.

Of the seven services being extended, two are operated by ComfortDelGro Bus and two by Ren Quan Transport; with Woodlands Transport Service, Transtar Travel, and Loh Gim Chong Transport each running one.

Commuters said that while journey times were comparable with those of taking trains, City Direct is more comfortable and convenient.

Mr Jonathan Soh, 24, a supply chain representative who takes bus number 657 and pays $2.50 per trip, said: "If I take the train, I have to squeeze with other commuters, but I can get a seat on City Direct."

Art director Allan Ducepec Kabigting, 37, takes service 661, which was launched last September, between Pasir Ris and the CBD. While he has to walk about 10 minutes from his office in Church Street to get to the bus stop to catch 661, he said: " I don't mind the walk. If I take the train, I have to take a feeder bus to get home. This service drops me just across from my block in Pasir Ris."

Last month, LTA said it had awarded contracts for five additional City Direct services, which will ply between the CBD and residential estates in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Clementi/Dover, Punggol and Yishun.

They will be launched progressively from next month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2016, with the headline '7 City Direct bus services extended for another year'. Print Edition | Subscribe