SINGAPORE - Tower Transit, Singapore's third bus operator, launched its first nine services on Sunday (May 29) morning, heralding a new start for the country's bus sector.
The Anglo-Australian firm is the inaugural operator under the Government bus contracting regime, which aims to deliver higher bus standards for commuters.
At around 5.30am, bus number 945 pulled out of Bukit Batok bus interchange, the first-ever Tower Transit service operated here.
Despite the early start, close to 20 bus spotters - enthusiasts who are passionate about catching every make and model of bus on the roads - turned up at the bus interchange to catch the first Tower Transit buses arriving from the depot.
The buses were painted in lush green, the colour chosen by the public in a recent voting exercise for buses under the contracting model.
Under the new regime, all buses and infrastructure will be owned by the Government, with routes tendered out to operators to run for a fee.
In May last year, Tower Transit was awarded the inaugural tender to operate 26 routes in the western part of Singapore, beating incumbents SBS Transit and SMRT.
The nine services it launches today were previously operated by SMRT, while the other 17 - which it will take over in June in two batches - are currently run by SBS.
Mr David Yeo, 42, a technician was one of the commuters onboard Tower Transit's first services, number 106. "The service so far is okay, I didn't not notice any change. But let's see how it goes," he said.
Tanjong Pagar MP Melvin Yong, who is also executive secretary of the National Transport Workers' Union, said in a Facebook post that he was at Bulim bus depot early Sunday morning to observe operations.
Mr Yong also boarded the first Tower Transit double-decker bus (service 106) at Bukit Batok bus interchange.
He wrote: "We wish TTS all the best as we mark a new milestone in Singapore's public bus industry, and we will continue to work closely with the operator to improve the working conditions and welfare of all our bus professionals."