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Hello 2010… Goodbye TVMobile! January 3, 2010

Posted by hafizbam in Miscellaneous, SBS Transit, Site News, Transport Events.
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End of an era - no more TVMobile in buses.

End of an era - no more TVMobile in buses.

The year 2009 ended on a good note, well, for local public transport at least. The airconditioned Boon Lay bus interchange finally commenced operations and even better, the much-hated TVMobile finally ceased airing in buses. Yup, that means no more noise to disturb your bus journeys with SBS Transit. While the fate of the hundreds of television monitors remain unknown, this might be a good opportunity for SBS Transit to trial an in-bus visual passenger information system without incurring too high a start-up cost.

Regardless, 2010 might prove to be just the year I’ve been looking forward to – if LTA finally takes over the role of central bus planner. They seem to be taking far too much time in getting the ball rolling since the series of radical changes to the public transport network were made public a couple of years back.

In the meantime though, where Singapore Bus Page is concerned, I would like to thank all you readers out there for helping to boost the number of visits to this site. It’s just the push I needed to keep the site running. Do stay tuned for more transport reviews in addition to the regular news bites you may not get elsewhere. As always, any tip-off or contribution is greatly encouraged!

Happy 2010!

Boon Lay bus interchange to shift in December December 13, 2009

Posted by hafizbam in Miscellaneous, SBS Transit, SMRT, Something New, Transport Events.
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SMRT routes 172, 178, 180 and 187 will be diverted to ply Boon Lay Way and Jurong West Street 64 to access the new Boon Lay interchange.

And it has finally been confirmed: the new airconditioned Boon Lay bus interchange will commence operations from Sunday 27 December 2009.

The new bus interchange is seamlessly integrated with the expanded Jurong Point shopping centre, which is now affectionately known as JP2, as well as to The Centris condominium above it.

There will be both saw-tooth and end-on berths in the interchange, with both entrances/exits along Jurong West Central 3.

SMRT posters for its affected routes 172, 178, 180 and 187 have been put up.

Bus stops get new sign poles December 5, 2009

Posted by hafizbam in Miscellaneous, Private operators, SBS Transit, SMRT, Something New, Transport Events.
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The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has replaced 1,430 bus stop sign poles with snazzier and more prominent ones that cost $1,000 each.

By March next year, all 4,500 bus stops islandwide will have the new sign poles, costing a total of $4.5 million.

The roll-out came soon after the authority finished canvassing for public feedback on the new design in end-August.

The new sign poles feature a schematic symbol of Singapore island, which can be spotted at all train stations too.

Besides displaying the bus services commuters can flag down, the sign poles will also have location names – usually that of a road, landmark or a nearby building.

Like existing bus stop sign poles, they will also each have a five-digit bus stop code which commuters can use to retrieve bus arrival information via SMS or the Internet.

The LTA added that the public can also use the code to provide feedback on a particular bus stop.

Where necessary, the new sign poles will include a notice board to give commuters additional bus service information, such as connection to an MRT station.

The decision to embark on the extensive replacement exercise was taken after the LTA conducted a review in February last year. The authority  found that 60 per cent of Singapore’s bus stop poles were showing signs of wear.

And another 39.5 per cent of the poles were already 10 years old. Only 21 bus stop poles, or 0.5 per cent of the total number of poles, were relatively new, the LTA said.

“As the majority of the bus stop poles needed to be replaced, this is a good time to improve the design of the poles,” said Mr Chan Kwok Cheong, LTA director of public transport promotion and services.

“The replaced poles will have more distinctive coloured sign plates and bigger bus service numbers. This will make it easier for commuters, especially senior citizens, to read them,” he added.

According to the LTA, the new poles are designed to last at least 20 years.

School teacher Tristan Yeo, 24, said the new sign poles are aesthetically pleasing. “It is an attempt to infuse something symbolic of Singapore in the design,” he said. “Quite nice.”

–  The Straits Times, page B7, Saturday November 29 2009

While I applaud the bus stop pole replacement exercise, there are a few flaws to the design:

– For those with additional information boards, there is no pole space left for bus companies to tie their cardboard press release notices to. This is unlike the old bus stop poles which is practically empty from middle down.

– The bus service numbers are colour-coded according to the bus company running the route; red for SBS Transit and grey for SMRT Buses, as well as a variety of other colour combinations for other special services and even Scheme B routes. While I have no problems with differentiating basic services from special ones, there should not be any differences between SBS Transit and SMRT basic bus services as the bigger notice board(s) planted within the bus stop shelter itself already has colour coding complete with detailed route information. Furthermore, with LTA’s overhaul of the bus network, bus routes may swop operator control every now and then. To repeatedly change the colour codes for all the bus stop poles along the affected routes is not exactly cost-effective.

– The prominent location names and bus stop codes are good additions/improvements and makes it easier for commuters using the various real-time bus arrival information services provided by SBS Transit and LTA. Standardisation of information displays also helps make it easier for commuters make more informed decisions.

More SBS Transit WAB services from December November 29, 2009

Posted by hafizbam in Bus, Deployment Updates, SBS Transit.
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SBS Transit has released its formal press release here.

The following eight SBS Transit bus services will be formally classified as wheelchair-accessible effective 3rd December 2009:

13: Yio Chu Kang – Bishan – Upper East Coast Road
15: Pasir Ris – Kaki Bukit – Marine Parade Road
36: Changi Airport – Marine Parade – Tomlinson Road
52: Bishan – Upper Thomson – Jurong East
54: Bishan – Thomson – New Bridge Road
57: Bishan – HarbourFront – Bukit Merah
291: Tampines – Tampines Street 83 & 33
333: Jurong East – Jurong East Street 32

The launch date has been timed to coincide with this year’s World Disability Day.

There is no formal press release by the company yet, though you can see this update here.

SMRT, Brickston likely to run Singapore’s first hybrid buses November 15, 2009

Posted by hafizbam in Bus, Fleet News, Miscellaneous, Private operators, SBS Transit, SMRT, Something New, Transport Events.
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ST Kinetics has announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between itself, King Long Singapore and Brickston Transport Services which will see Brickston becoming Singapore’s first bus company to trial a fleet of King Long low-floor city buses fitted with ST Kinetics’ hyPower hybrid electric technology.

Why private operator Brickston seems to be so keen in getting these low-floor city buses remains a question though, since it currently deals mainly with coach charter services such as worker transport. It could be just a way to reduce costs (since the hybrid bus has proven to be able to save up to 30% in fuel consumption) or the start of bigger things to come – like bidding for public bus services when the industry is opened up in the near future.

View the press release here.

King Long hybrid bus in Singapore.

ST article photo, scanned by Lau Kai Guan.


JUST a week after a taxi operator rolled out Singapore’s first hybrid taxis, two green buses are set to hit the roads here.

The buses, which run on a combination of diesel and battery power, are said to use up to 30 per cent less fuel than conventional ones.

As a result, their tailpipe emissions, which are harmful to the environment, will also be cut.

The buses, assembled in China, were the result of a joint venture led by ST Kinetics, a Singapore engineering company better known for its military vehicles.

ST Kinetics teamed up with two other companies to make the hybrid buses: Chinese bus-maker King Long, which supplied the chassis, and ALP Energy, which supplied the lithium battery management system.

The latter is owned by Singapore-born businessman Lim Loong Keng, who is now a Canadian.

ST Kinetics is currently in talks with two bus operators about running trials for the buses.

The Straits Times understands they are SMRT Corp and Brickston Transport, a company whose main business is ferrying factory workers.

ST Kinetics hopes to convince the two firms of the buses’ viability during the trial, and hopes they will order more such coaches in future.

Brickston’s owner Colin Gan, 50, is already swayed by the prospect of lower running costs. ‘First and foremost, it can save fuel. And then it’s also green.

‘I’ve told them, if everything is set, I’m prepared to take 10 coaches.’

An SMRT spokesman would say only that the firm was ‘studying the feasibility of adding eco-friendly alternatives, including hybrid buses, to our bus fleet’.

ST Kinetics has dabbled in so-called ‘alternative energy’ vehicles in the past. Since 1997, it has invested more than $80 million in start-ups dealing with such vehicles in the United States, China and South Korea.

Last year, it had a commercial breakthrough when it delivered a fleet of hybrid baggage tow trucks to Changi Airport. In electric mode, the trucks were found to be suitable for the enclosed, air-conditioned areas they often operate in.

The two hybrid buses will be the first diesel-electric vehicles to ply public roads here. The hybrid cars and taxis here are petrol-electric.

Besides their green credentials, the buses also comply with the latest government requirements for public buses – they provide wheelchair-accessibility, for example.

The one drawback of the buses: Cost. At $500,000 apiece, they are between 25 per cent and 30 per cent more expensive than conventional buses.

Bus operators The Straits Times spoke to cited this as a potential hurdle to adopting the vehicles. The uncertainty of the new technology is another, they added.

However, ST Kinetics general manager Mah Chi Jui pointed out that the vehicles’ lower fuel costs mean long-term savings for the operators.

A bus company would take just three years to recoup the extra money spent on a green bus, he said.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s biggest bus company, SBS Transit, said it is also exploring the possibility of buying hybrid buses.

The company has some experience with green buses – SBS Transit already runs 12 compressed natural gas variants here.

In addition, its parent group, ComfortDelGro Corp, owns London public bus operator Metroline, which is currently trying out five hybrid buses there.

A ComfortDelGro spokesman said the London trials have been successful.

Between them, SBS Transit and SMRT operate close to 4,000 buses. There are another 2,500 or so private buses with 35 seats or more. The vast majority run on diesel.

The Straits Times, page B1, Saturday November 14 2009

Eight more SBS Transit wheelchair accessible services October 18, 2009

Posted by hafizbam in Bus, Deployment Updates, SBS Transit.
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Official press release from SBS Transit.

Official press release from SBS Transit.

The following SBS Transit routes will officially become wheelchair accessible bus (WAB) services from Monday 26 October 2009.

3 : Tampines – Pasir Ris – Punggol
27 : Hougang Central – Sengkang – Tampines – Changi Airport
34 : Punggol – Tampines – Changi Airport
53 : Bishan – Hougang South – Pasir Ris – Changi Airport
142 : Toa Payoh – Potong Pasir
293 : Tampines feeder service
358 : Pasir Ris feeder service
410 : Bishan – Upper Thomson Road feeder service

They join the other 22 SBS Transit services which are already WAB services:

2, 7, 12, 14, 21, 51, 64, 72, 76, 80, 123, 130, 143, 147, 174, 183, 185, 196, 198, 199, 232 and 268;

as well as 7 SMRT Buses WAB services:

171, 172, 189, 307, 811, 851 and 945.

Unlike wheelchair accessible bus routes in London where the whole bus fleet is as such once the route is converted to WAB, passengers-in-wheelchairs in Singapore still have to look out for the wheelchair logo decal to ascertain whether the bus they intend to board is meant for them.

Regular maintenance plus dual-depot controls and a relatively big fleet of non-wheelchair accessible buses still in operation can still mess up the WAB schedules from time to time, resulting in lengthened gaps between one WAB and another.