Rush-hour woes at Yishun's new integrated transport hub on 2nd day of operation

A long line of buses near the new Yishun Integrated Transport Hub on Sept 9, 2019. ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - Commuters on buses heading to the new Yishun Integrated Transport Hub (ITH) were caught in a massive traffic jam that delayed some journeys by more than 30 minutes during rush hour on Monday morning (Sept 9).

Some commuters even had to alight from their buses to walk to the interchange, after a long queue of buses formed at the traffic light junction before the interchange at around 8am.

Around 14 bus services from SBS Transit were also delayed because of the "heavy traffic", said the bus operator.

The issue then returned ahead of the evening rush hour, with SBS announcing the delay of the same services at about 5pm on its Twitter page.

In response to queries, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it is monitoring the situation and working with the bus companies to fine-tune operations.

It had earlier implemented measures, such as widening the roads and adjusting traffic light timings, to mitigate congestion.

"We seek commuters' understanding that some time is required for our bus operators to familiarise themselves with the new environment," LTA added.

The interchange is operated by SMRT Buses, a division under SMRT Roads.

The president of SMRT Roads, Mr Tan Kian Heong, said it will consult LTA on adjusting the traffic light timing at the junction outside the interchange.

It will also deploy extra staff to improve the control of bus movements in and out of the new Yishun transport hub.

Monday was just the second day of operation of the Yishun ITH, which is integrated with Northpoint City shopping mall.

It comprises an air-conditioned bus interchange that is also connected to Yishun MRT station.

Prior to the opening of the new transport hub on Sunday, buses stopped at a temporary bus interchange that was constructed along Yishun Central, behind Northpoint City.

Long queues at the new Yishun Integrated Transport Hub on Sept 9, 2019. ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

On Monday morning, commuters posted pictures on social media that showed a snaking queue of buses waiting to turn right into the new bus interchange from Yishun Avenue 2.

When The Straits Times visited the area at about 5.50pm on Monday evening, traffic snarls were observed on both sides of the road in front of the interchange.

More than 10 buses were seen waiting to enter the interchange on either side of the road.

Manufacturing supervisor Kelvin Chew, 45, who takes a bus ride daily from his home in Sengkang to his workplace at Yishun Industrial Park A, told ST that his trip on Monday morning took an additional 20 minutes as a result of the traffic jam along Yishun Avenue 2.

Mr Chew, who passed by the area at around 7.25am, said he has never experienced a traffic jam along the road before.

"The buses waiting to turn right into the interchange couldn't do so even though the traffic light was green, as the interchange was already full of buses," he added.

"Many buses were also stuck while trying to switch lanes to turn into the new interchange, so they ended up stopping in a zig-zag manner on the road."

Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, an MP for Nee Soon GRC, told ST he received alerts about the problem from more than five residents, with grassroots leaders also telling him about the situation.

He said he has asked the Land Transport Authority and bus interchange operator SMRT, along with grassroots leaders, to look into the issue "urgently".

He said: "One of the issues could be that the bus drivers... are still familiarising themselves with the new layout.

"LTA has also fine-tuned the traffic light timings to facilitate the traffic flow in the vicinity and will monitor closely till the situation stabilises."

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