Need a bus? Hail it with your phone

The trial ComfortConnect service operates from Mondays to Fridays between 10am and 4pm, and has been available to residents in Tanjong Rhu and Meyer Road since Aug 15. No fares are being collected during the three-month trial. PHOTO: COMFORTDELGRO
The trial ComfortConnect service operates from Mondays to Fridays between 10am and 4pm, and has been available to residents in Tanjong Rhu and Meyer Road since Aug 15. No fares are being collected during the three-month trial. PHOTO: COMFORTDELGRO

Transport giant ComfortDelGro has rolled out an on-demand bus service just weeks after the Land Transport Authority (LTA) shelved plans for such a scheme.

The listed bus and rail operator said yesterday that its trial ComfortConnect service has been available to residents in Tanjong Rhu and Meyer Road since Aug 15.

The service operates from Mondays to Fridays between 10am and 4pm, and serves 16 physical/virtual stops, including most of the condominiums in the Tanjong Rhu/ Meyer Road area, Parkway Parade, the Singapore Swimming Club and Dunman High School.

No fares are being collected during the three-month trial.

Passengers can book a ride by first downloading ComfortDelGro's ComfortConnect app, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play store. They then select a pick-up and drop-off point, and indicate the date and time of the trip before booking the ride. An in-app notification will be sent once the ride is confirmed, and another at least two minutes before the bus arrives.

A bus will turn up even if there is only a single booking.

The firm runs similar on-demand bus services in Australia.

 
 
 
 

ComfortDelGro Bus chief executive Pang Weng Heng said: "ComfortDelGro Bus has been providing direct as well as first-and last-mile shuttle services to and from residential areas where public transport coverage is less extensive.

"We believe that on-demand services have the potential to supplement conventional public transport services. Through this trial, we hope to gauge the commercial viability of on-demand services, which will help us plan for new services in the future."

The LTA said in June that it would not continue with an on-demand bus service following a six-month trial in the Joo Koon and Marina-Downtown areas after finding that it was costlier to run than regular fixed-route buses.

That same month, ComfortDelGro announced that it was investing in high-tech ventures through its new US$100 million (S$139 million) corporate venture capital fund ComfortDelGro Ventures.

Its initial investments included home-grown Swat, a company owned by engineering and transport giant Goldbell. Swat ran one of the LTA's six-month on-demand bus trials here.

Christopher Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2019, with the headline 'Need a bus? Hail it with your phone'. Print Edition | Subscribe