New Route 128 (Ang Mo Kio to Shenton Way) July 13, 2008Posted by hafizbam in Something New.
Tags: ang mo kio, new bus service, shenton way
New basic bus service 128 commenced operations last Sunday, 7 July 2008, running between Ang Mo Kio and Shenton Way – the first basic bus service to be introduced in 2008, all the others being premium services. Compared to the excitement in 2005 when SBS Transit introduced new basic bus routes almost every other month, the wait for a new basic route now has been a long one, the last being services 5 and 175 which were launched in March 2007.
Unique to service 128 however, is its nature of a peak-hour only train-duplicating bus service. By train-duplicating, I really mean duplicating the North-South and East-West MRT lines exactly from Yio Chu Kang to Tanjong Pagar, stopping at only certain bus stops in the city area and those near the train stations, thanks to the ongoing long-term revamp of the local public transport which allows for bus services to duplicate mature train lines which are heavily utilised. In other words, bus companies may now run bus routes that duplicate SMRT’s network of North-South and East-West lines. The NorthEast line seems to have been left out as it is still in the stage of infancy, though there is no doubt residents of the northeast would appreciate the return of direct bus services to town.
The way I see it, this new route is more of a show by the LTA on its willingness and ability to redesign the bus network here (which will be under its charge come next year) rather than a sole SBS Transit initiative.
So far, demand for the service has been quite weak, despite the extensive media publicity given to this first extensively train-duplicating bus service in decades. And I am not too surprised by that, given that only four trips each are operated in the morning and evening peak periods, supplementing the train system for commuters heading to town and back. Throw in the peak hour congestion and what you get is a 70-minute commute from Shenton Way to Yio Chu Kang, which you can achieve within half an hour by train. At the very most, this service is an attractive alternative to residents in Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh where the service seems to call at all the bus stops within the towns.
What can be done is to actually make the bus service comparably faster, if not taking the same amount of time in reaching the destination compared to the train, which can be done by plying the expressways (which can be duplicating the train line still – take the CTE vs NSL for example). At the same time, make such train-duplicating bus routes call at more of the bus stops enroute as this is after all, a niche buses will always have over trains – direct point-to-point transport service.
Four brand new Scania K230UBs based in Ang Mo Kio Depot are deployed on the route. This could itself be a problem if demand starts picking up as there are only a limited number of seats in the new wheelchair-accessible buses. Imagine standing from Shenton Way all the way to Ang Mo Kio in a bus caught in a traffic jam.
The choice of route number however, is quite awkward, given that most of the services that originate from Ang Mo Kio are from the 13x and 16x series. The best explanation for this could be SBS Transit’s tradition of adopting “lucky number 8” for any new forays, most notably for its Chinatown Direct routes ( CT8, CT18 and CT28 ) as well as its first bus service into Woodlands New Town back in 2001 – the 168.
Despite it all, I welcome the introduction of more of such train-duplicating bus services. Maybe one of them can be in the form of former TIBS route 952 from Woodlands to the city that can easily beat the train by plying the BKE and PIE. And I will be its instant regular commuter 8)
New Basic Bus Service 128 To Ply Along Section Of NSEW Line And More Premium Buses Introduced
1. Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Raymond Lim, announced on 30 January 2008 that new basic bus services will be allowed to ply along sections of mature rail lines with persistent heavy passenger loading. This is to provide commuters using these lines with more public transport alternatives. The Public Transport Council (PTC) has approved SBST’s Service 128 to ply along the southbound section of the North-South-East-West Line from 7 July 2008.
2. Minister Lim had also announced on 30 January 2008 that the number of premium buses would be expanded from 42 to 72. LTA is pleased to announce that as of 30 June 2008, 76 premium buses are already in operation, surpassing the original target of 72.
3. The introduction of these bus services underscores LTA’s commitment to provide more choices for commuters, including drivers who decide to switch to public transport.
New Basic Bus Service Duplicating Sections Of MRT Lines With Persistent Heavy Passenger Loading
4. Currently, the southbound section of the North-South-East-West Line (NSEW) from Bishan to Newton MRT stations faces persistent heavy passenger loading. With limited scope to expand rail capacity during peak periods quickly, the PTC has approved an application by SBST to operate a new basic bus service 128 between Ang Mo Kio Depot and Shenton Way Terminal. This service will commence operation on 7 July 2008. The route will cover 13 MRT stations along the NSEW and will stop at selected bus stops in-between MRT stations along its route. Please refer to Annex A for details of the bus route and stopping points.
5. SBST’s service 128 will have 4 trips each during the morning and evening peak hours. SBST will increase the number of trips in the peak periods if demand for the service is high.
6. More of such services would be implemented along other heavily loaded sections of mature rail lines in future, if conditions require it.
More Premium Bus Services
In addition to this new basic bus service, 76 premium bus services now offer commuters direct connections from residential areas, such as Holland, Bukit Timah, Aljunied and Woodlands to the Shenton Way, Robinson Road, Suntec City and Orchard Road areas. For more information on the premium bus services available, please refer to http://www.lta.gov.sg/ public_transport/ pt_premium.htm.
7. “We are pleased with the response to the scheme with operators surpassing the targeted number of services and very healthy growth in ridership. LTA will continue to work together with the operators to ensure that more of such services are available, so as to give commuters more choices and viable alternatives to cars, especially during the peak hours. Members of the public who would like to suggest new routes for premium bus services can do so through the LTA website and we will encourage operators to consider them”, said Mr Yam Ah Mee, Chief Executive, Land Transport Authority.
8. Premium bus services were introduced as niche market bus services, catering to commuters who are prepared to pay higher fares for a more direct and comfortable journey. Premium services provide a closer substitute to private transport. These services also catervices also cater to the group of current public transport commuters who desire a higher level of service. This scheme was revised on 1 February 2007 as part of the on-going effort by the government to make public transport a choice mode.
Premium Bus Aggregator
9. The public is encouraged to suggest their preferred Origin-Destination points to be served by premium bus services at http://www.lta.gov.sg/public_transport/pbs/pbs_info.htm. LTA will share the information with the operators for them to consider providing PBS.
Source: LTA Website