New e-paper arrival boards for bus stops

The new e-paper display has been installed at the bus stop (left) along Lorong 1, Geylang, opposite Block 2C. It will also be installed at 10 others, including the bus stops along Bishan Street 22 (opposite Bishan North Shopping Mall), along Yishun A
The new e-paper display has been installed at the bus stop (left) along Lorong 1, Geylang, opposite Block 2C. It will also be installed at 10 others, including the bus stops along Bishan Street 22 (opposite Bishan North Shopping Mall), along Yishun Avenue 2 and Tiong Bahru Road, by March.ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

Display mimics appearance of ink on paper; makes it more visible than current LED panels

A new arrival timing board being piloted at selected bus stops will be easier for commuters to read and is more environmentally friendly to boot.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is testing the use of electronic paper (e-paper) technology - which mimics the appearance of ink on paper - for its information boards at 11 bus stops. It is more commonly known for its use in e-readers such as Amazon's Kindle.

The LTA is exploring different display mediums, as it looks to renew the display boards at 85 bus stops and to widen their use, so that up to 200 bus stops will have such features in the next few years.

The existing information boards - which provide commuters with estimated waiting times for buses - currently use light-emitting diode, or LED, technology.

The LTA said the 32-inch e-paper displays are more visible than their LED counterparts. In low-light conditions, small LEDs installed behind the glass panel will help illuminate the display.

The new boards will also be powered by solar panels. A chargeable lead-acid battery can keep the displays going from five days up to a week, in the absence of sunlight.

Each unit costs about $43,000 to install - about $7,000 less than LED ones.

While the LED displays can show only three colours in text, the new ones can show up to 4,000 colours. This means extra information, such as weather updates and bus routes, could be shown on the boards in the future.

The e-paper display has been installed at the bus stop along Lorong 1, Geylang, opposite Block 2C. It will also be installed at 10 others, including the bus stops along Bishan Street 22 (opposite Bishan North Shopping Mall), along Yishun Avenue 2 (Yishun MRT station) and Tiong Bahru Road, by March .

The 11 bus stops, which currently do not have any arrival timing boards, were chosen for their high usage.

Other cities, such as Sydney and London, are also testing such technology in their transport infrastructure.

The LTA said it was also looking at the possibility of using LCD (liquid crystal display) displays - used for television screens and computer monitors - for its display boards.

Commuters said the new boards were as clear as, if not better than, the current LED ones and welcomed the LTA's plan to expand their use.

Mr Made Citra, 29, an assistant badminton coach, said: "Installing information boards at more bus stops is a good thing. We don't have to check the mobile apps all the time and we can refer to the monitor directly. It's more convenient."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2016, with the headline 'New e-paper arrival boards for bus stops'. Print Edition | Subscribe