Scheme to enhance bus services entering final stretch

Six in 10 of the 296 existing bus services have had their capacity increased under the programme, said the LTA. This means there are either more buses or more double-decker buses on those routes.
Six in 10 of the 296 existing bus services have had their capacity increased under the programme, said the LTA. This means there are either more buses or more double-decker buses on those routes.ST FILE PHOTO

The billion-dollar Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP) is entering its final stretch, with 820 out of a targeted 1,000 government-funded buses on the road as of last month.

Six in 10 of the 296 existing bus services have had their capacity increased under the programme, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday in a media statement.

This means there are either more buses or more double-decker buses on those routes.

The BSEP was started in 2012 to expand the public bus fleet by about 35 per cent to reduce waiting times and congestion. The goal was for 1,000 government-funded buses to hit the roads at the end of five years. The programme will be completed next year.

The LTA said 14 bus services suffer from persistent peak-period crowding now, down from the 96 identified in 2012 when the programme started.

A bus is considered "crowded" when its passenger load, comprising standing and seated passengers, exceeds 85 per cent.

A total of 65 new routes have been introduced under the BSEP so far, with more planned in the scheme's final year, said the LTA.

These include the 20 City Direct Services, which ply one-way express routes between housing estates and the city area.

These services make two one- way trips during peak periods on weekday mornings and evenings, excluding public holidays.

Two more of such services will be rolled out in the next two months.

The LTA also said a new service - No. 883 - between Sembawang and Yishun will be introduced on Oct 23 to serve new housing developments in the Canberra Road area.

"More new bus services will be implemented to further enhance connectivity in areas like Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Hougang, Sengkang, Tampines, Toa Payoh, Tuas, Whampoa and Yishun," said an LTA spokesman, adding that details will be revealed later.

Communications manager Chris Sim, 27, takes a bus daily from his home in Upper Thomson to his workplace in Newton and has seen his waiting time decrease by a "few minutes" over the past few years.

"I have always found the buses a convenient way to get around," he said. "They are especially important for people like me, who don't live near a train station."

LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong said the improvements made under the BSEP are encouraging.

"We look forward to continuing this upward trend as we work with all four public transport operators to ensure commuters get to enjoy smoother, more frequent bus services under the bus contracting model," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2016, with the headline 'Scheme to enhance bus services entering final stretch'. Print Edition | Subscribe