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Increased coverage for SMRT bus 922 in Bukit Panjang town February 27, 2010

Posted by hafizbam in Bus, Route Amendment, SMRT.
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Mercedes Benz OC500LE on service 922.

Service 922 will no longer serve the bus stops along Saujana Road, as illustrated above. Photo credit: Muhd Faizal.

SMRT has finally seemed to realise the ridicule in running a feeder bus service half-heartedly – and still losing money in the process – and is instead making a radical change to feeder bus service 922 serving residents of Bukit Panjang town.

The route amendment, to take effect from Sunday 28 February, will see the service cover the whole stretch of Jelapang Road (Greenridge Shopping Centre), Segar Road and Fajar Road (Fajar Neighbourhood Shopping Centre) before looping in the same manner as service 920 at Bangkit Road.

The change will see residents jumping for joy as they now have convenient bus links to places which are previously bus-less or just served by the (still unprofitable) Bukit Panjang LRT system, such as the Fajar neighbourhood shopping centre. Segar Road residents will enjoy a direct link to the market and shops at Bangkit Road as well as the prominent Al-Iman mosque.

The most important question though would be: would the frequency of the bus service, currently at half hour intervals or longer, be improved? That remains to be seen, but what is already known is that one more bus would join TIB737R as part of the 922 fleet and so this should be seen as something positive. Unless of course, this whole route change is yet another half-hearted service “improvement”  aimed at appeasing some quarters (like the MP perhaps?).

Click here for the press release poster.

New travel guide by SMRT January 9, 2010

Posted by hafizbam in Miscellaneous, SMRT, Something New.
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Explore Singapore with SMRT Buses

SMRT's latest travel guide for Yishun/Sembawang

The red-coloured individual bus service guides may no longer be as frequently updated and freely distributed within the SMRT network. However, the company has recently released a new form of travel guide aimed at increasing its bus ridership.

Titled “Explore Singapore with SMRT Buses”, the guide comes in the form of a stapled booklet with a striking pink cover. The first edition features services from Yishun and Sembawang which can get you to various attractions including Sentosa, Bottle Tree Park and St Andrew’s Cathedral. The guide also gives a short history of Yishun and Sembawang within the content page and ends off with a suggested one-day itinerary and feedback form.

And just like the town guides, SMRT has made sure that those who cannot get their hands on one of the printed copies can still get them from the comfort of their homes – online that is. The guide itself is advertised on the homepage of SMRT’s website and can be accessed here.

SMRT axes Premium bus service 597 November 8, 2009

Posted by hafizbam in Premium Bus, Route Amendment, SMRT.
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When Premium 597 was launched, I laughed. It looked more like a desperate attempt by SMRT to break into the Toa Payoh market than anything else. SBS Transit was already, and still is, running Premium 535 which sensibly serves most parts of the estate that matters.

And so I am definitely not surprised to see it walking into history in a couple of days.

SMRT Premium 597 will make its swansong journey from Toa Payoh to Shenton Way this Friday, 13th November 2009. A wicked choice of date 🙂

To view the press release, click here.

SMRT brings in Southeast Asia’s first Mercedes Benz Citaro! November 6, 2009

Posted by hafizbam in Bus, Fleet News, SMRT, Something New, Transport Events.
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Singapore's first Mercedes Benz Citaro.

A sneak peek at Southeast Asia's first Mercedes Benz Citaro. Photo courtesy of Ho Kok Pern.

Singapore’s bus enthusiasts got all excited this week after learning that the country’s second biggest public bus operator – SMRT Buses – has brought in what everyone has been wishing for: the award-winning Mercedes Benz Citaro citybus!

The Mercedes-Benz Citaro (or O530) is the current Mercedes-Benz/EvoBus mainstream bus intended for public transport, introduced in 1997 and replaced the Mercedes-Benz O405/O405N series. Manufactured in Mannheim (Germany), Ligny-en-Barrois (France) and Sámano (Spain), it features a low floor for easy access.

There is currently one unit resting within the Cycle & Carriage compounds in Teban Gardens. Word has it that it has been imported wholesale from Germany and is awaiting modifications to meet local specifications before hitting the roads. While there are no SMRT logos on the bus, one will definitely not go wrong guessing which company it belongs to from the common red, black and white livery already applied on its body.

Daimler’s press release confirmed SMRT’s order for 66 units of the bus, which features the BlueTec diesel technology already widely used in Europe.

BlueTec in Asia

Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) is the first company in Southeast Asia to put Mercedes-Benz urban buses with BlueTec 5 into operation in short-distance public transport. This means that the BlueTec diesel technology so successfully introduced by Daimler in Europe now also has a presence in Asia. And with an order for 66 Mercedes-Benz Citaro BlueTec urban buses that meet the stringent Euro 5 exhaust standard, the SMRT Corporation in Singapore is setting new benchmarks in Southeast Asia.

This is the third wheelchair-accessible bus model to be brought in by SMRT in the last two years. The first came in the form of Mercedes Benz OC500LEs in Gemilang bodywork, with the second being Singapore’s first Chinese public citybus – a Yutong ZK6126.

Further details with regards to this bus will be posted on this website as and when updates stream in.

You may read more about this bus here.

SMRT posts profits for all units October 31, 2009

Posted by hafizbam in Miscellaneous, SMRT.
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Transport operator SMRT is on the way to matching bigger player ComfortDelGro in profits.

In the first half ended September 30,  SMRT posted a 21.9 per cent rise in net earnings after tax to $101 million – the first time it has crossed the $100 million mark at the interim.

This was on the back of a 0.5 per cent rise in revenue to $445.3 million, mainly from higher MRT ridership, which was boosted by the commencement of Circle Line Stage 3.

Lower energy costs, government budget measures and tighter control of expenses helped bolster the bottom line.

All of SMRT’s business units were in the black – even its long-suffering bus and taxi operations.

Buses turned in an operating profit of $3.05 million while cabs posted $1.89 million. They saw $4.5 million and $1.8 million in losses, respectively, in the same period last year.

Rental of retail space at SMRT stations continued to shine. The non-transit division reported an operating profit of $25.2 million for the six months, up from $22.6 million last year.

The group leased out more than 29,000 sq m of space. When the city stretch of the Circle Line opens in the middle of next year, SMRT will have even more retail space – the 2,000 sq m Esplanade Xchange.

Chief financial officer Lim Cheng Cheng said the group’s newly acquired Chinese transport firm, Zona, is expected to show material profit contribution in about five years’ time.

Chief executive Saw Phaik Hwa described the first-half performance as “a reasonable set of results”.

But she warned of choppier times ahead, saying profitability “will continue to be impacted by the fare reduction package ending next June, lower Jobs Credit, volatility in diesel prices and ramp-up costs” of the Circle Line.

The group’s contracted electricity rates will be 11 per cent higher in the second half.

Analysts do not expect SMRT to reap profits from the Circle Line any time soon. The orbital line will incur higher manpower costs but ridership is not expected to be commensurate.

However, some observers reckon the Circle Line, which links mature residential estates, will feed more people into its network.

The rail business continued to be the company’s main profit churner, accounting for $75.4 million of its total operating profit of $121.05 million.

SMRT shares closed one cent up at $1.68 yesterday.

The Straits Times, Money, page C30, Saturday October 31 2009

Singapore F1 Night Race: Road Access & Public Transport Guide September 14, 2009

Posted by hafizbam in Bus, Miscellaneous, Route Amendment, SBS Transit, SMRT, Transport Events.
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F1

Essential information on F1 road closures and public transport changes from 23rd to 29th September:

Land Transport Authority Press Release
Road Access & Public Transport Guide
SBS Transit train and bus services during F1 NEW!
SBS Transit bus service updates during F1
SMRT train, bus and taxi services during F1 NEW!
SMRT train service extension schedule during F1 NEW!

———————————————————————————————–

With less than two weeks left to the much anticipated Formula 1 night race at Singapore’s Marina Bay, much preparations for the event have been carried out, including joint press releases for bus service diversions by both SBS Transit and SMRT – one of the few instances where collaboration between the two is much appreciated.

As per last year, there will be similar road closures around the area. Buses will be diverted to ply the fringes of Suntec City; the nearest alternative convenient stops being those around North Bridge Road and Raffles City. There will also be special free bridging shuttle bus services connecting the Suntec City and Marina Square shopping centres to the nearest MRT stations at Bugis and City Hall, though you would be better off walking through the CityLink Mall.

And as always, SBS Transit will run special feeder bus services in selected housing estates to complement the last train timings.

Quoted from the LTA press release:

Public Transport

Q1. What are the public transport options available during the road closure period?
A
The public transport system will continue to operate during the period of the road closure. The capacity of the MRT will be able to cope with the increase in numbers turning to the trains as a mode of transport during the period of the closure, although during peak periods some passengers may not be able to board the first train that arrives. LTA and the MRT Operators will monitor the train passenger loadings closely and make adjustments where possible.

Basic bus services serving the Marina Bay area will be diverted to ply the fringes of road closures. For the convenience of public assessing Marina Bay area, a free bridging bus service will be provided to connect City Hall and Bugis MRT stations to the area from 23 to 29 September 2009.

Q2. Which public bus services will be affected? What are their diverted routes?
A
A total of 27 basic bus services will be affected by the road closures. These bus services will be diverted either to parallel routes or to the fringe of the road closures, such as the bus stops closest to the Suntec City / Marina Centre area that will continue to be accessible during the road closure. For commuters going to the Suntec City / Marina Centre area, the average walking distance is about 600-800 metres, and less than 400 metres via the free bridging shuttle bus service.

Q3. Will there be an increase in frequency of the MRT services to and from City Hall and Raffles Place MRT stations? Is this a safe frequency to operate at?
A
We expect that there will be sufficient capacity to handle any increase in ridership from the road closures. However, as the NSEWL is already running at maximum capacity during the weekday peak-within-peak period of about half an hour in the mornings and evenings, commuters may experience some difficulty in boarding the first train to arrive at their station during the peak-within-peak periods. They should be able to board the next train, after a 2 to 3-minute wait.

For the other times of the weekdays as well as during the race weekend, LTA is working with the PTOs to run more train trips where possible to increase passenger capacity of our train network. LTA and the MRT Operators will also monitor the train passenger loadings closely and make adjustments where possible.

Our train systems are designed to operate safely at the planned frequencies.  

Bridging service

Q4 What frequency will the bridging bus run at? Is this enough to cope with the expected increase in commuter traffic?
A
The bridging service was planned to be operated at a frequency of 10 to 12 minutes if traffic enroute permits. As it would be faster on foot for most destinations in Marina Bay area, the bridging service will offer an alternative for the public, especially the elderly and those travelling with young children.