Inject more competition into feeder bus routes

Singapore has recently implemented the bus contracting model for local public transport.

While I laud this move, I notice that the new industry players appear to bid for the trunk routes only - plying long or medium distances across the island.

Perhaps the regulator should consider allowing the new players to bid for feeder routes as well.

Demand on these routes, on which passengers travel between residential neighbourhoods and bus interchanges, is strong, but the supply side is invariably unable to cope.

Take my housing estate in the northern part of Singapore, for instance.

The feeder bus service leaves much to be desired.

The waiting time, on numerous occasions, has been exceedingly long and bunching of buses is a common occurrence.

This segment of the industry should be opened up to competition.

Besides conventional buses, smaller-capacity buses, such as 16-seaters or even vans, could be utilised.

These vehicles should have special licence plates and could ply designated routes to serve residents, especially during peak hours.

Special drop-off and pick-up points can be created at various bus interchanges.

This will entail the bus interchanges being shared among the various transport operators too.

This will supplement the services of the existing bus operators to sufficiently cater to the demands of residents, and improve the public transport system, so as to discourage private car ownership.

Teo Kok Seah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2016, with the headline 'Inject more competition into feeder bus routes'. Print Edition | Subscribe