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New operator brings new bus service into Sin Ming and Upper Thomson May 30, 2009

Posted by hafizbam in Uncategorized.
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The sole Toyota Coaster midibus in service on Premium service 721 by Cheery Bus terminating at Marymount MRT Station.

The sole Toyota Coaster midibus in service on Premium service 721 by Cheery Bus terminating at Marymount MRT Station.

In a surprising move which many would least expect, a new bus service sprang to life the same day the Circle Line MRT commenced revenue service on 28 May 2009.

A new entrant to the public bus market, Cheery Bus launched new premium service 721 running from the new Marymount Station along Marymount Road to Sin Ming Avenue and Upper Thomson Road. Essentially, this new route is a short feeder bus service running in a continuous loop. Which is probably why the choice of service number is not in the usual 5xx range.

The route creates a useful link for the housing estates along Sin Ming Avenue and Upper Thomson, as well as Thomson Plaza, to the new nearest train station for the area. Before this week, it took at least 15 minutes to get to Bishan Station.

Map showing the route of Premium 721 indicated in blue. Service runs in anti-clockwise direction.

Map showing the route of Premium 721 indicated in blue. Service runs in anti-clockwise direction.

Only one midibus is deployed to begin and end service at the bus stop pick-up point outside the new Marymount Station entrance along Marymount Road at a frequency of 30 minutes, except for certain times of the day when the frequency is stretched, most likely for meal breaks and such. The service runs from Mondays to Saturdays from 0620 to 1930 hours only. A flat fare of $1.10 is charged, however, do not expect to find any ez-link card readers onboard the bus. Neither is there any form of transfer rebate even if you had just alighted from the train (a huge disincentive for the regular commuter heavily reliant on the ez-link card!). More details can be found here (the standard of basic English used can definitely be improved!).

As expected, the bus was empty when I took it this afternoon. Though it’s stated on the Cheery Bus website that the service is a one-man operation, there is a “conductor” accompanying the driver throughout. The driver stops  the bus and opens the door at every bus stop along the route in an apparent bid to increase publicity about the new service – only to receive cold stares and puzzled looks by those waiting for other buses. It doesn’t help either that only a piece of paper stating “Marymount MRT” was plastered at the side of the bus. To bolster demand, the company may want to serve  the Sin Ming industrial estate enroute since only one bus service – SBST 130 – serves that area at the moment.

While such a shuttle bus service obviously do not warrant the classification of being a “premium”, it is commendable on the part of private operators to get around the tight restrictions imposed by the Public Transport Council (PTC) to fill in the important gaps left out by giants SBS Transit and SMRT. Whether or not the services survive though, is entirely dependant on demand which has to be generated by sufficient publicity – something the private operators currently lack and need to work hard on.

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