Few commuters notice difference after switch to Tower Transit

Tower Transit's bus service 106, decked out in its official colour, picking up passengers in Dhoby Ghaut. Some commuters did not realise the bus services had changed hands because many buses were not yet painted green.
Tower Transit's bus service 106, decked out in its official colour, picking up passengers in Dhoby Ghaut. Some commuters did not realise the bus services had changed hands because many buses were not yet painted green.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

The first weekday of operations for Singapore's new bus operator Tower Transit appeared to go smoothly yesterday, said several commuters.

Among the commuters The Straits Times spoke to, who were travelling to the Central Business District on the operator's services 77 and 106, many said they had not noticed any difference after Tower Transit took over from the previous operator, SMRT. But a few of them noted some improvements.

Tower Transit began operating nine bus services on Sunday. Some commuters did not realise the bus services had changed hands because many of the Anglo-Australian firm's buses were not painted green yet - the colour chosen in a public voting exercise. Only 10 are green in colour. The other buses, around 90, retain SMRT's colour scheme or have advertisements on them.

For commuters like Ms Anne Chua, 25, the buses' colour change was the only feature that stood out.

Said the retail assistant, who took service 106 from Bukit Batok to Lucky Plaza: "If not for the colour change - the bus is now green - I would not even know that the service provider is different."

While Ms Meilina Wijaya, 30, an assistant manager, did not notice significant changes with the new operator, she said Tower Transit's bus driver "seemed more friendly than usual, because he was telling us 'good morning' very cheerfully".

Tower Transit was satisfied with yesterday's operations. Said managing director Andrew Bujtor: "Our bus captains are getting more familiar with the systems and processes. As with any transition, there are some kinks to be ironed out."

The operator said it is too soon to say whether it has met the stricter service standards set under a new government contracting model.

For example, Tower Transit is required to have 50 per cent of its buses operate at intervals of not more than 10 minutes during peak periods. The maximum interval allowed between buses is 15 minutes.

Under current service levels, 30 per cent of buses operate at intervals of 10 minutes, and the maximum interval allowed between buses is 30 minutes.

Some commuters noted greater frequency in Tower Transit's services.

Said Mr Basel Chan, 30, who works in healthcare: "The bus service seems more frequent. When I check the bus timings, (the frequency) is usually five to eight minutes. Now, it is two to five minutes."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2016, with the headline 'Few commuters notice difference after switch to Tower Transit'. Print Edition | Subscribe