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Bedok revisited: a decade of bus-related changes June 24, 2009

Posted by hafizbam in Deployment Updates, Miscellaneous, Random Shots, SBS Transit, SMRT.
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About a decade ago when I was still calling Bedok home, its feeder buses were operated with the non-airconditioned Alexander-bodied Scania N113CRBs well-known for their quiet engines. Green and white plated service 221 had Leyland Atlanteans. Services 7 and 14 which can get me to the Orchard Road shopping belt had just received their double-decks, be it the non-airconditioned two-axle Volvo Olympians or the first airconditioned double deckers in Singapore in the shape of Leyland Olympians or better known as the “SuperBus” to many.

Of course, SBS Transit was still known as Singapore Bus Services then, and TIBS operated its yellow and orange buses on service 854, with subsidiary Singapore Shuttle Bus running its orange Nissans and Hispano-bodied DAFs on the 608.

A Volvo B10M Mk 3 with Duple Metsec bodywork running service 225 (white plate). Behind it is the old Princess theatre which has just recently ceased operations, and very likely to be demolished.

A Volvo B10M Mk 3 with Duple Metsec bodywork running service 225 (white plate). Behind it is the old Princess theatre which has just recently ceased operations, and is very likely to be demolished.

Fast forward to today and the changes can never be more stark.

Singapore’s last non-airconditioned single deck public buses – the N113CRBs – have been scrapped. Taking their place are the new Scania K230UBs. Not only are they airconditioned, they are the first wheelchair-accessible single deck public buses in Singapore. And there are now 900 of them roaming the entire island. Needless to say, all the feeder bus services in Bedok have been converted into fully airconditioned services. Impressively, routes 222 and 225 even gained double decks!

Gone too are the non-airconditioned double-decks; not only have they been replaced by airconditioned counterparts, some services like the 7 and 14 even received the country’s first wheelchair-accessible double-decks in the form of Volvo B9TLs fitted with our very own ComfortDelGro Engineering bodywork. And they are rather stylish to boot.

Above all else, the dull red stripes of SBS have given way to a much more inspiring and colourful livery consisting of the purple and orange shaping the new multi-modal SBS Transit. The same cannot be said for SMRT Buses though. The bright and sunny yellow and orange have sadly succumbed to the dull corporate lines of the train company that bought it over (whether or not the takeover was appropriate is still under debate till today!).

Volvo Olympian double deck buses have been deployed on both services 225 (green plate) and 225 (white plate).

Volvo Olympian double deck buses have been deployed on both services 225 (green plate) and 225 (white plate), both of which used to be run with a full fleet of single decks.

TIBS has evolved into SMRT Buses, and it has made its increasing presence in the east felt, after gaining route 67 and the chartered free shuttle service to the IKEA home furnishings store in Tampines. It no longer utilises the parallel end-on parking berths in the interchange but instead, takes up one of the sawtooth berths to accomodate the long bendy buses. CSS 608 has long been withdrawn following the company’s policy of divesting itself off unprofitable routes – resulting in the demise of the Singapore Shuttle Bus company at the same time.

Gone too are some routes like the 34, 219 (renumbered to current 229), 226 (merged with 385 to form 60), 227 (merged with 17) as well as the old 229 and 221 which merged to become Bedok’s only Townlink feeder bus route 222. Others which survived relatively untouched till today saw changes in terms of frequency and deployment of buses. My former feeder bus service – the 225 – for instance, no longer see Scania N113CRBs but in their place are Volvo B10Ms and even Volvo Olympian double decks!

However, Bedok did not only see redundancies being cut. Additions and alterations also took place every now and then. The bus interchange itself was minimally spruced up to increase the level of comfort for commuters utilising what is arguably the oldest bus interchage in Singapore still standing strong. More passing through bus routes such as the 45 and 59 surfaced, even while others like Express 506 got extended to Upper East Coast.

Bedok (together with Tampines) also witnessed the introduction of SBS’ first bus service to serve Woodlands town proper and terminate at Woodlands Regional Bus Interchange. This was the 168 and it helped shorten travel time between the north and east drastically by taking advantage of the northern express route (SLE and TPE).

Former services 221 and 219 were merged to become TownLink service 222, which has progressed to gain some Volgren-bodied Volvo B10TL Super Olympians, seen here parked at Bedok Interchange wearing a full-body advertisement by NEA on dengue fever prevention measures.

Former services 221 and 219 were merged to become TownLink service 222, which has progressed to gain some Volgren-bodied Volvo B10TL Super Olympians; one of which is seen here parked at Bedok Interchange wearing a full-body advertisement by NEA on dengue fever prevention measures.

With the LTA taking over the role as master planner and plans for one of those integrated airconditioned developments planned for Bedok, I am definitely ready to marvel at the changes coming the way of this old HDB town in the coming decade. Hopefully, some landmarks will be retained not only for the sake of nostalgia, but for the very laid-back character of Bedok. After all, would you really want to see the same old boring shopping centre and condominium development at every train station?

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