More than a third of the $1.1 billion in taxpayers' funds set aside to boost Singapore's bus fleet has been disbursed.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday that about $420 million has gone towards buying and operating new buses, introducing new bus services, and improving existing bus services.
As of Sept 30, a total of 690 tax-funded buses have been added under the Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP).
Together with the Bus Service Reliability Framework (BSRF), the programme has enabled commuters to experience better connectivity, buses that are less crowded and more regular bus arrivals, said LTA.
To date, 45 new or amended bus services have been rolled out. Last month, four new services - SBS Transit (SBST) Service 102 and City Direct Services CDS 661, 662 and 663 - were started to provide more services to commuters.
Number of tax-funded buses added as of Sept 30 - 690
Number of new or amended bus services rolled out - 45
Number of tax-funded buses under the Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP) to be introduced by 2017, costing at least $1.1 billion - 1,000
In the fourth quarter of this year, residents in Tampines/Simei, and Marsiling/Woodlands can look forward to another two City Direct Services - CDS 664 and 665.
Seven more new routes will also be introduced in areas such as Bedok, Choa Chu Kang, Jurong West, Marine Parade, Punggol, Tampines and Yishun.
The first programme of its kind here, the BSEP was started in September 2012, in response to burgeoning demand from a fast-growing population that the two publicly listed transport companies, SBST 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.
Last year, then transport minister Lui Tuck Yew announced that the tax-funded fleet would almost double to 1,000.
He indicated that the budget for this would be bigger as well, but did not give a new figure.
When asked, the LTA said it had only the $1.1 billion figure.
The plan now is for all 1,000 buses to start plying the roads by 2017. Together with buses injected by SBST and SMRT, the total fleet of public buses will grow by about 35 per cent. The BSEP also includes the introduction of 80 new routes.
During the second assessment period of the BSRF trial from last December to May this year, commuters on average benefited from more regular wait times and less crowding, said the LTA, "as there are less prolonged waits, and passenger loads are spread more evenly across bus trips".
As a result, SBST earned $816,000 for reliability improvements to 12 services, and SMRT earned $384,000 for improvements to five services.
The BSRF trial was expanded by 12 services in June this year, with 11 more services joining the trial in December. This brings the total number of services under the trial to 45.