Bus operator Tower Transit has begun operations late last month. They are the first company to be awarded a tendered bus package under the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) new bus contracting model. In a sweeping restructuring of the public bus industry, the authority will own buses and infrastructure, while tendering out operations and service management to bus operators.
Tower Transit will take over 26 bus services. They are existing SMRT Buses service numbers 77, 106, 173, 177, 189, 941, 945, 947 and 990, and SBS Transit service numbers 66, 78, 79, 97, 97e, 143/143M, 41, 49, 96, 98/98M, 183, 282, 284, 285, 333, 334, and 335. These bus services are based from Bukit Batok, Clementi and Jurong East bus interchanges. Tower Transit also operates the new Bulim bus depot.
We can expect that the new contracting model will create some interesting competition. Tower Transit had barely started operation, and we’ve already seen something happening at SBS Transit. Guess what? SBS Transit has raised starting pay of bus captains by 15%. That’s really quite a big pay increase! It looks like a great sign of much more excitement to come!
For commuters, what’s most important is to see that services improve, and improve in ways that matter to them. We want reasonably frequent, reasonably regular, arrivals of buses that have reasonably capacity to take on commuters, at all bus stops. We want useful service routes. We want route redundancies, where it is practical.
I know it sounds like quite a tall order, and surely there will have to be compromises somewhere. It could mean, for example, increase in fares. I don’t ask for cheaper fares, or even for fares to be maintained. Personally, I feel fares can be allowed to increase, provided it is justified by improved services.
While having Tower Transit coming onboard is really nice, on the other hand, it’s still early to tell if there’s going to be any real improvement to the overall public bus transport.
So if you’re just wondering, Tower Transit’s 26 bus services are rolled out in three phases. Two phases are done, and there’s one more to go.
Phase 1 (29 May 2016): 77, 106, 173, 177, 189, 941, 945, 947, 990
Phase 2 (12 June 2016): 66, 78, 79, 97, 97e, 143/143M
Phase 3 (26 June 2016): 41, 49, 96, 98/98M, 183, 282, 284, 285, 333, 334, 335
Check out Tower Transit’s website for more details.
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