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Free SMRT Chinatown Shuttle Service by SMRT January 27, 2009

Posted by hafizbam in SMRT, Transport Events.
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Photo courtesy of Md Faizal.

Photo courtesy of Md Faizal.

Photo courtesy of Jack AY

Photo courtesy of Jack AY

In what has become a yearly tradition, SMRT ran their free Chinatown shuttle bus service spanning the three days before Chinese New Year. The route remains the same – running in a circular manner between their own Tanjong Pagar and Raffles Place stations and South Bridge Road in Chinatown.

As to why SMRT is so generous to be providing something that is potentially (or rather, proven to be) loss-making, the answer is simply competition from SBS Transit’s Northeast train line (NEL) which serves the heart of Chinatown. If a passenger travelling on the East-West or North-South train lines transfers to the NEL to get to Chinatown, SBST gets a cut of the passenger’s total fare, eating into what could have been a few more cents for SMRT. So, just like the rationale behind the free SMRT Link shuttle services, this free Chinatown shuttle aims to minimise the potential fare revenue losses by attracting commuters away from the NEL.

But of course, who would bother sacrificing a 15-minute wait for the free shuttle, when there is a train service right smack in the destination they are heading towards.

Nonetheless, the free shuttles do make for very interesting in-house advertisements and special deployments. This year, two buses – TIB762S of Woodlands Depot route 922 and TIB968R of Kranji Depot route 970 – were deployed to run the free shuttle, bucking the trend of having BusPlus midibuses and Dennis Lance charter buses on the service as in previous years.

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