SBS Transit, SMRT rewarded with $1.34m and $504k respectively for improving bus waiting times: LTA

Commuters waiting in line for their buses at Jurong East bus interchange.
Commuters waiting in line for their buses at Jurong East bus interchange. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Public transport operators SBS Transit and SMRT have been rewarded for improving waiting times for their buses during a trial to assess the regularity of bus services.

The Bus Service Reliability Framework (BSRF) trial, which took place from June to November last year, covered 34 bus services, with 27 achieving excess wait times that were better than the baseline.

Excess wait time is the average additional wait time experienced by commuters at bus stops.

For its improvements in reliability over the six-month trial, SBS Transit earned $12,440 per service per month for 18 services, while SMRT was rewarded with $12,000 per service per month for seven services.

In total, SBS Transit earned about $1.34 million, while SMRT earned $504,000.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said commuters had benefited as wait times were more regular and bus loads spread more evenly, thanks to both operators' "enhanced management of the bus fleet and the hiring of more service controllers".

Introduced in February 2014 to improve bus reliability by reducing bus bunching and prolonged wait times, the BSRF measures each service against a unique baseline across six-month assessment periods. Operators are rewarded with incentives for improving, and penalised for deterioration in reliability. 

This is the third assessment period of the BSRF trial. 

Meanwhile, 800 of the planned tax-funded fleet of 1,000 public buses have been put on the road since March 31, LTA said in its latest update. 

The full fleet, which comes under the $1.1 billion Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP), is expected to be operational by next year.

The BSEP, together with the BSRF, aims to improve the regularity of bus arrivals.

LTA also revealed that nine new bus services - SBS Transit services 134, 150 and 382G/W, SMRT service 805 and City Direct services 666, 667, 668, 669 and 670 - were introduced between January and March this year, bringing the total number of new or amended services under the BSEP to 63.

The nine services benefited residents in Aljunied, Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Clementi, Dover, Eunos, Marine Parade, Punggol and Yishun.

Another new service, 308, serving Choa Chu Kang will launch on Sunday (May 15).

One more new service will be introduced in the middle of the year to enhance connectivity in Bedok and Tampines, LTA added. More details will be shared at a later date.

In the ongoing effort to reduce crowding and shorten bus waiting times, 15 additional buses were deployed to 13 existing services in the first quarter of 2016, which added 185 weekly peak-hour bus trips.

According to LTA, operators SBS Transit and SMRT also improved seven bus services by deploying higher capacity buses and adding more bus trips along sectors experiencing heavy ridership.

These accounted for an additional 35 weekly peak-hour trips.