Saturday 15 September 2012

Five new routes, over 90 new buses by end 2012: Launch of Bus Service Enhancement Programme

First phase of Government's $1.1 billion plan to boost bus network
By Royston Sim, The Straits Times, 14 Sep 2012

FIVE new bus routes and more than 90 buses will be added to the nation's bus network by year-end in the first phase of the Government's $1.1 billion plan to improve bus services in Singapore.

To be rolled out over the next three months, the new routes will service commuters mainly in the north and north-east, including in the relatively new neighbourhoods of Sengkang and Punggol.

Existing services in other areas, including Bukit Panjang and Boon Lay, will be allocated more than 50 buses to ease congestion during peak commuter periods.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, in announcing these plans during a visit to Yishun Bus Interchange yesterday, said the authorities had taken a holistic view of the bus network to target areas for improvement.

He said: "We want to try and recognise which are the services that need augmentation, but we also want to spread the benefits geographically as much as possible."

He added that to avoid congestion on the roads - because of the extra buses - bus priority measures such as bus lanes and the Mandatory Give-Way to Buses scheme will have to be extended.

"What we want to do is to make sure that the buses are effective in doing the job that they are meant to do," said Mr Lui, adding that operators have hired 150 more drivers this year compared to the same period last year.

The more than 90 new buses is about one eighth of the 800 new buses proposed under the Government's $1.1 billion Bus Service Enhancement Programme.

Under this initiative, the Government will pay for 550 buses and introduce 40 new routes over the next five years.

The remaining buses will be funded by bus operators SBS Transit and SMRT.

Of the five new routes, two will start operations from Oct 21.

Bus service 860 - an entirely new service - will run along Yishun Ring Road between Khatib and Yishun MRT stations.

Service 119 from Kovan to Sengkang Interchange will have its current route extended.

Instead of stopping at Sengkang, it will ply four more stops and end at Punggol Interchange.

The remaining three routes will be introduced in November and December.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said that these routes are still being finalised, but one will be a parallel bus service from Tampines to the Central Business District.

The other two will link commuters from Bishan to Punggol, and from Hougang to Serangoon.

The LTA added that in its quarterly review of bus services, a total of 190 more weekly trips during peak hours had been added to 30 bus services.

And from next Monday, 28 new buses will be put on the roads during peak periods to improve 26 heavily-used services. This will add 335 more bus trips weekly.

Another 25 bus services will be allocated more buses in the fourth quarter of this year.

Responding to these changes, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Janil Puthucheary said residents along Punggol Field would appreciate the expanded service 119 as there are currently not very many buses in the neighbourhood.

Yishun resident Tamil Selvan, 43, said the bus stop nearest to his home has only service 811, and missing the bus means a 10- to 15-minute wait.

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