Scaling down of CityShopper premium bus services October 26, 2008Posted by hafizbam in Uncategorized.
Tags: City Shopper, Premium Bus, SBS Transit
New premium bus services mushroomed overnight a few months ago when the market for premium bus services was liberalised, with both public and private bus operators wanting to have a share in the pie. Fast forward to today, I can safely say the situation has somewhat calmed down, with some having expanded their services (like SMRT Buses) and others scaling down on the less profitable routes (SBS Transit, Premier Rent-A-Car).
The latest victims this time round are the CityShopper services run by SBS Transit. Originally implemented with eight routes, there will only be three left after Deepavali. Even then, these surviving three will have their operating hours curtailed. The changes to be implemented are:
– CityShopper 576 (Tampines) will be suspended.
– Buses will run only from 1200 to 1630 hours on weekdays.
– Buses will run one-directional from Sengkang/Punggol/Tampines/Simei to Orchard Road/Suntec City from 1000 to 1200 hours on weekends and public holidays.
– Buses will run two-directional as per current route from heartlands to the CBD and back after 1200 hours to 2100 hours on weekends and public holidays.
Personally, I do not see much use for these services to run on weekdays for around four hours during the off-peak period. Extending their operation hours to operate until evening would help boost ridership from office workers-turned-shoppers after work. But for all I know, this might yet be another one of the stifling regulations by the Public Transport Council (PTC) and their excessive fear of duplication with the basic services and trains.
The use of the phrase “suspension of service” for CityShopper 576 instead of “withdrawal of service” or “service will no longer be offered” which was used for the withdrawal of Premium routes 537 and 540 earlier this year, seems to suggest that this particular CityShopper route might end up like Chinatown Direct route CT28 – one that operates only during festive seasons. As such, I won’t be surprised if buses running the 576 during the year-end Christmas season.
While the concept behind the CityShopper premium bus routes is a novel one by SBS Transit, it didn’t turn out to be much of a success. While the fares may be a direct deterrent for potential passengers who are mainly HDB estate dwellers who would rather take the trains which might be slower or even comparably faster but cheaper, much of the problem lies with the routes themselves. It would have done SBS Transit much good if they had ventured into faraway estates like Choa Chu Kang North, Yishun and Woodlands which lack direct bus services to the city, and whose overall fares payable using the current train-feeder bus combination would be comparable, if not more expensive.