SBS Transit to equip technicians with basic knowledge of hybrid, electric bus systems

A technician demonstrates how to service a bus. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Since joining SBS Transit (SBST) as an apprentice when he was 20, master technical specialist Hainee Abdul Rahman has serviced all sorts of buses.

From the manual transmission Albion Vikings that plied the roads in the 1970s to the diesel-electric hybrid Volvos rolled out in 2018, the 63-year-old has had to keep up with new bus technology over the 42 years he has been with the bus operator.

For eight days in 2017, he went to Sweden to learn how to maintain the hybrid vehicles, the first time he had been to Europe.

Last year, he took on his latest challenge - learning how to work with the high voltage systems on fully electric buses.

Mr Hainee is one of 25 SBST bus technicians who have been trained and certified to be experts on such systems after attending a certificate of competency course that was jointly developed with the Institute of Technical Education College West.

The course has three skill levels, and SBST aims to equip all 450 of its technicians with at least a basic knowledge of working safely with these high voltage systems.

Its technicians are also trained and certified by the manufacturers of the 30 fully electric buses and 25 hybrid buses that it currently has in its fleet.

Separately, the Singapore Bus Academy also launched a core foundational course on electric buses this year for workers from all four public bus operators here.

This is ahead of Singapore's plans to have a cleaner energy public bus fleet by 2040.

The Republic currently has about 5,800 buses in total, of which 60 are fully electric.

Speaking to reporters during a visit by National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) deputy secretary-general Heng Chee How to Ulu Pandan Bus Depot on Tuesday (Feb 15), Mr Hainee said he previously had no knowledge of electric buses.

"When I attended the courses, I got know about them better. From there, I upgraded myself. I found it very challenging."

NTUC deputy secretary-general Heng Chee How looks at the battery power pack of the Volvo Diesel Hybrid bus with Master Technical Specialists Hainee Abdul Rahman (left) and Liang Tian Kong (right) at Ulu Pandan Bus Depot on Feb 15, 2022. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Asked if he was afraid of being replaced by his younger colleagues, Mr Hainee said he was happy to share his knowledge with them.

With the training he has received, he said he is confident he can continue working in his current role even when diesel-powered buses are completely phased out.

Mr Hainee, who has two daughters and five grandchildren, has no plans to retire just yet.

"I love my job very much, that is why I stayed here for so long," he said. "If I can work and they still need me, I will carry on. It is better for me to work."

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