First Tower Transit buses hit the road; bus operator likely to bid in next tender

Tower Transit's first nine services - 77, 106, 173, 177, 189, 941, 945, 947 and 990 - operate out of Bukit Batok bus interchange. Next month, the Anglo-Australian firm will gradually take over 17 more routes from SBS Transit that are also in the west
Tower Transit's first nine services - 77, 106, 173, 177, 189, 941, 945, 947 and 990 - operate out of Bukit Batok bus interchange. Next month, the Anglo-Australian firm will gradually take over 17 more routes from SBS Transit that are also in the western part of the island.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

S'pore's third bus operator set to compete in next tender, likely in June, to run more routes

Even as its first nine bus services started plying the roads yesterday, Singapore's third bus operator, Tower Transit, already has set its eyes on expanding its presence here.

The Anglo-Australian firm, which won the first government bus contract a year ago, said it will compete in an upcoming tender - likely to be held next month - to run more bus routes.

It sat out the previous tender - which was won by British firm Go-Ahead - so as to concentrate on launching its operations here.

"We are very committed to growing our business in Singapore and we will absolutely be bidding for the third bus package," Tower Transit chief executive Adam Leishman told The Straits Times.

He said the firm's attention to customer experience, its engineering capabilities and its success in recruiting locals to become bus captains put it in good stead to contribute to Singapore's transport sector.

Tower Transit's debut on the roads here marks a key step in the restructuring of Singapore's bus industry to raise service standards.

Under the contracting model, operators are subject to stricter reliability standards, with performance incentives or financial penalties given depending on whether standards are met.

Tower Transit Singapore managing director Andrew Bujtor said the firm is "very confident" of meeting these standards, which include regularity in bus arrivals - often a bugbear among commuters here.

Mr Bujtor said a lot of training has been done so that bus captains can coordinate with the operations control centre to regulate bus intervals, to "deliver the consistent gap between buses that passengers desire".

Tower Transit's first nine services - 77, 106, 173, 177, 189, 941, 945, 947 and 990 - operate out of Bukit Batok bus interchange. Next month, it will gradually take over 17 more routes from SBS Transit that are also in the western part of the island.

At around 5.30am yesterday, the first Tower Transit service in Singapore, service 945, left the interchange. It was followed by service 106, which was taken by Mr Leishman, Mr Bujtor and National Transport Workers' Union executive secretary Melvin Yong, who is also an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC.

More than 20 "bus spotters" turned up in Bukit Batok to photograph the first Tower Transit buses arriving from Bulim Bus Depot. These were in lush green, the colour chosen in a public voting exercise.

The firm took over around 90 buses from SMRT and these remained in their original colour scheme. It received 10 buses painted in green from the Government, which owns all assets in the contracting model.

Institute of Technical Education student Muhd Naz Farihin, 19, said: "The arrival of the green buses marks a leap forward in the bus industry to the new contracting model."

Mr Etcoy Alvin Gimao, 35, a welder who takes service 189, said: "I feel that the bus driver is good and the ride was smooth, with less sudden braking."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2016, with the headline 'First Tower Transit buses hit the road'. Print Edition | Subscribe