LTA calls tender for Bukit Merah, Jurong West bus routes

The contracts include 17 public bus routes for Bukit Merah and 26 for Jurong West. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Two bus packages for Bukit Merah and Jurong West were put up for tender by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Wednesday.

Currently operated by SBS Transit, the contracts include 17 public bus routes for Bukit Merah and 26 for Jurong West, according to government procurement website GeBiz.

The current Bukit Merah contract is due to expire in 2023, while the one for Jurong West will expire in 2024.

This is the second time LTA has called a tender for two packages concurrently under the bus contracting model. Previously, bus operator Tower Transit in 2020 won the bid to run both the Bulim and Sembawang-Yishun packages.

An LTA spokesman said on Thursday that SBS Transit, as the current operator of the Bukit Merah bus package, has performed satisfactorily and met all contractual requirements.

“With the expiring Jurong West package, LTA has decided to put the package out for tender, which may allow us to get better value-for-money proposals,” the spokesman said.

LTA can choose to award the two packages to the same operator or to two different operators.

Mrs Grace Wu, SBS Transit’s vice-president for customer experience and communications, said the company will bid for the contracts.

She said: “Tendering is part and parcel of our business, and we approach every tender with our best efforts and competitive advantages. It will be no different this time round.

“We are committed and driven to doing more as Singapore’s leading public bus operator.”

SMRT Buses managing director Tan Kian Heong said the company will be submitting “competitive bids” for both bus packages.

“We hope we can serve commuters in those regions of Singapore,” he added.

A spokesman for Tower Transit said it is keen to bid for both bus packages, while Go-Ahead Singapore declined to comment.

The tender closes on March 22, 2023, and is expected to be awarded in the second half of 2023.

Wednesday’s tender comes after Go-Ahead Singapore was given a three-year extension to operate 31 public bus routes in the Loyang area in October.

This was the first time a tendered bus contract was extended beyond the stipulated contract duration of up to seven years.

The bus contracting model was introduced in 2014 to raise service standards and inject competition, as the public bus sector had previously been a longstanding duopoly between SBS Transit and SMRT.

Under the contracting model, LTA owns all the operating assets and infrastructure, plans bus services centrally and collects fare revenue.

Public transport operators bid for the right to run services, and are paid fees to do so at standards set by the authority.

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