Govt scheme puts 760 new buses on the road

SBS Transit buses at the Toa Payoh bus interchange.
SBS Transit buses at the Toa Payoh bus interchange. PHOTO: ST FILE

Full fleet of 1,000 buses expected by 2017, feeder services will also be improved

More than three-quarters of a planned tax-funded fleet of 1,000 public buses have been put on the road as at the end of last year.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday that 760 buses have been injected into the network as part of the Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP).

Rolled out in 2012, the BSEP was a response to burgeoning demand from a fast-growing population that the two publicly listed transport companies, SBS Transit and SMRT, were not able to cope with on their own. Originally, $1.1 billion was set aside to buy 550 additional buses and operate them for 10 years. But in 2014, then Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said that the tax-funded fleet would double to 1,000.

The LTA said yesterday that all 1,000 buses can be expected to be on the road by next year. It added that as at Nov 30 last year, around $475 million of the bus budget had been disbursed.

Meanwhile, seven new bus services were introduced between October and December last year. They were SBS Transit Services 47, 117, 118 and 258, SMRT Service 979 and City Direct Services 664 and 665.

Two existing bus services - SBS Transit Service 49 and SMRT Service 983 - were also extended.

A total of 61 new buses were deployed for these routes. They bring the total number of new or extended services under BSEP to 54.

"Commuters can look forward to more new routes in Eunos, Marine Parade and Yishun by March 2016," said an LTA spokesman.

One new route, SBS Transit Service 382, which serves the new housing developments in Punggol West, as well as key amenities such as the new Punggol Safra Clubhouse, started plying on Jan 3.

Seven additional buses were deployed to improve five bus services during morning and evening peak hours in the fourth quarter of last year. In all, 80 weekly peak-hour bus trips were added in this period.

Separately, as part of an ongoing quarterly bus service review process, SBS Transit and SMRT have also improved 132 services by deploying higher-capacity buses and adding more trips along sectors that experience heavy demand.

In total, the operators added 90 weekly trips during peak hours for these services in the fourth quarter of last year. This is in addition to the 80 extra weekly peak-hour bus trips added via BSEP during the same period.

Together with buses injected by the public transport operators as well as the use of private bus operators to provide additional capacity, the BSEP will expand the public bus fleet by about 35 per cent.

By next year, buses will be added to about 80 per cent of feeder bus services. Connectivity will also be further improved with the introduction of 80 new routes. Currently, 95 per cent of feeder services must operate at intervals of at most 10 minutes during the morning and evening peak periods. By next year, all of them will run at intervals of at most 8 minutes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2016, with the headline 'Govt scheme puts 760 new buses on the road'. Print Edition | Subscribe