Bidadari housing estate to have first bus interchange underground

An integrated transport, commercial and residential project will form the town centre of Bidadari estate.
An integrated transport, commercial and residential project will form the town centre of Bidadari estate.PHOTO: HDB

To be ready by 2019, it will sit below carpark and garden flanked by flats

The new Bidadari housing estate will be home to Singapore's first underground air-conditioned bus interchange below Housing Board flats.

The new interchange next to Woodleigh MRT station, expected to be ready by 2019, will cater to five bus services.

It will be "tucked away and hidden from the street view", sitting below a carpark and neighbourhood garden flanked by blocks of flats, according to the HDB's plans seen by The Straits Times.

The Housing Board handed out design briefs and sketches to architects and engineers last week as it invited them to draw up architecture and engineering plans for the new housing estate.

The bus interchange is part of an integrated transport, commercial and residential project that will form the estate's town centre. Besides the interchange, the project will also have a foodcourt and 360 flats, split equally into three- and four-room flats.

Sales of these Build-To-Order flats are expected to be launched in August next year, with construction starting in 2016.

They are among 10,000 HDB flats and 1,000 private homes slated to be built on the sprawling former cemetery grounds.

The flats will have green features: Staircases will have LED lights with motion sensors and lifts will be partly powered by batteries charged by the lifts' own movements, like hybrid cars.

Transport researcher Lee Der Horng said the bus interchange will make it very convenient for the HDB residents, most of whom do not own cars.

"With the bus interchange right on their doorstep, there is no reason not to take public transport," said the National University of Singapore professor.

But property expert Ku Swee Yong is worried about disamenities such as noise and air pollution. "The construction and maintenance costs for underground facilities are higher, not to mention the electricity bill for air-conditioning," he said.

However, Professor Lee said pollution and noise can be managed with technology and the trade-off for convenience is worth it.

Meanwhile, the Housing Board's plans for Bidadari have drawn support from cyclists for promoting cycling. The HDB wants Bidadari to be designed for commuting on foot and by bicycle, and has asked architects to plan for park connectors, cycling paths and cycling ramps at staircases. It has even set a minimum of one sheltered bicycle parking space to be built for every six flats, the same ratio as that for motorcycles. This is believed to be the first time the HDB has spelt out such a ratio.

The ratio is low, but "it is a very useful step to establish a baseline requirement", said avid cyclist Francis Chu, co-founder of the LoveCyclingSG group.

"Cycling is the ideal mode of transport for short distances within an HDB town and the neighbourhood," said Mr Chu.

"Having enough safe parking lots for bicycles is a good start," he added.

tohyc@sph.com.sg