On-demand public bus services from Dec 17 as part of 6-month trial

The BusNow app will display the same boarding code on both the driver's tablet and the commuter's smartphone. This will help the driver to confirm that the correct passenger is being picked up. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Chief bus captain Chung Sing Loong shows Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary how the mobile application BusNow works on his tablet. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - From Dec 17, commuters in Joo Koon and Marina Downtown can hail a public bus the way they hail a private-hire ride.

As part of a six-month trial, they will be able to book an SBS Transit service via a phone app, requesting pick-ups and drop-offs at any bus stop within the two areas.

The service will be available on weekdays, excluding public holidays, from 11am to 3pm. On weeknights, it will run from 8.30pm to 11.30pm in Joo Koon and until 11.45pm in Marina Downtown .

The fare will be based on a distance of 3.2km, which is currently 77 cents for adult fare card, and 83 cents from Dec 29 after the latest fare revision. Commuters will be issued an e-boarding pass once a booking is successful.

They pay for their ride the usual way - by tapping their ez-link card.

And from Jan 4, another on-demand bus service will be available from the central business district to Bedok and Tampines. SMRT will ply this service on Fridays, Saturdays and eve of public holidays from 11.30pm to 2am.

Users will pay a flat fare of $4.50.

Dec 17 trial

Locations Timings App to download
JOO KOON 11am-3pm 8.30pm-11.30pm BUSGO
MARINA-DOWNTOWN 11am-3pm 8.30pm-11.45pm BUSNOW

Jan 4 trial

Location Timings App to download

The app for the Marina Downtown and CBD-Bedok-Tampines services is BusNow, provided by homegrown Swat. The app for the Joo Koon service is BusGo, by American company Via.

Both apps are available for download by the end of Monday (Dec 3).

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said regular bus services will still be available but at a lower frequency during the six-month trial of the new on-demand bus service.

The interval between regular bus services will be 30 minutes for the Joo Koon area and 40 minutes for the Marina Downtown area - double the current service intervals. Affected services are 253, 255, 257, 400 and 402.

The LTA said buses which are freed up from the lower frequency schedule will be deployed as on-demand buses.

Swat and Via clinched a $2.26 million contract early this year to conduct the six-month trial.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary, who took a demo ride on Monday (Dec 3), said: "We're experimenting with a new form of public transport to see if we can optimise the opportunities for commuters.

"We need to experiment with a few models of public transport to find out what people need, what people want. We certainly hope to try this in other areas... A lot will depend on how commuters react."

Retiree Anthony Ng, 68, said he would give it a go.

"I am game for new stuff," he said. "It's a good idea too, and it'll give taxis a run for their money."

Mr Ng, however, noted that the cost must be low enough, and that the buses must not be too crowded.

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