SINGAPORE - Slightly less than 10 per cent of 9,500 public bus drivers have been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak in the interchanges but services have not taken a big hit.
Transport Minister S. Iswaran said on Monday (Sept 20) on the sidelines of the Ministry of Transport Conference that these drivers either contracted the virus or were quarantined due to being in close contact with a confirmed case.
But the impact on bus services has been limited, he noted. This was due to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and bus operators' efforts to reorganise operations and redeploy resources where necessary.
"A very small percentage of our services really are affected in terms of perhaps the lengthening of headway and so on," said Mr Iswaran, referring to the interval between buses plying a route.
"That is something that we would like to avoid, but it is difficult because of the reduction in the manpower as a result of Covid-19 infections. So I think, on the whole, the system is holding up well," Mr Iswaran said.
He noted that only five express bus services were withdrawn, with other services still running.
Acknowledging that some commuters may encounter additional delays, he asked for their understanding.
The five services that were suspended on Sept 15 were operated by Go-Ahead Singapore. They are express services 12e, 43e and 518 as well as city direct services 661 and 666.
Go-Ahead Singapore said the temporary move was due to "the impact of Covid-19 on available manpower". The LTA told ST that there was lower demand for the five services and the suspension allowed bus captains to be "redeployed to serve higher demand trunk and feeder services" .
Hundreds of Covid-19 cases have been reported at interchanges in Singapore over the past month. They involved bus drivers, interchange staff and their household contacts.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said in its daily Covid-19 update on Sunday (Sept 19) evening that the Boon Lay, Punggol and Tampines bus interchanges were among the large clusters with new cases.
There were a total of 242 cases at the Boon Lay interchange, 70 at Punggol and 162 at Tampines.
MOH said the cases were due to workplace transmission among bus captains and interchange staff, with no evidence of spread to commuters.