Sunday, 16 August 2015

Fewer bus services affected by peak-hour crowding

LTA says only nine services still experiencing issue, down from 96 identified in 2012
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 15 Aug 2015

Only nine bus services now suffer from persistent peak-period crowding, down from the 96 identified in September 2012.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA), which gave this update yesterday, attributed the 90 per cent improvement to the Government's $1.1 billion Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP). A bus is considered to be "crowded" when bus loading, including standing and seated passengers, exceeds 85 per cent.

To deal with these persistently crowded services, new buses have been added to popular routes.

In total, the BSEP will see 1,000 government-funded buses hitting the roads. So far, about 660 buses have been deployed and this has resulted in 168 bus services - about 60 per cent of all services here - being improved, said the LTA. The rest of the new buses will go into service by 2017.

Some 41 new bus services have been introduced under the programme, with eight more planned in the coming months. These will ply routes through 12 neighbourhoods, including Bedok, Marine Parade and Sengkang.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, who revealed the figures yesterday during a visit to the Serangoon Integrated Bus Hub, said that the programme, into its third year now, is on track to be completed by early 2017.

"The waiting times have been shortened, the congestion level has been reduced. We will continue to work hard as there is still one-third of the programme to go," he said.

Mr Lui also said that the public's response to City Direct services - run by private bus operators and which ply routes from the heartland to the Central Business District during peak hours - has also been "very positive".

From September, five more City Direct services will be added to the 10 already in service, said Mr Lui.

Commuters said that while waiting times have generally improved, more can still be done. Retiree S. Shanmuganathan said that waiting times have gone down during the peak periods for service 317, which he takes daily from his home in Serangoon Gardens. He waits around five minutes nowadays, down from about 10 minutes a few years ago."But during the off-peak periods, I may have to wait up to 15 minutes," said Mr Shanmuganathan, 82.

Chef Sherwin Tan said that buses for service 109 are still crowded when he takes one every day at about 10.30pm to go home from the Serangoon Interchange. "There is still definitely room for improvement," said the 21-year- old.

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