Monday, 11 December 2017

Billion-dollar Bus Service Enhancement Programme ends after five years; 80 new services and 1,000 buses added to Singapore roads since 2012

$1.1 billion enhancement of bus services complete
Five-year programme has increased capacity of 70% of bus services and cut waiting times
By Melody Zaccheus, Heritage and Community Correspondent, The Sunday Times, 10 Dec 2017

The $1.1 billion five-year Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP), which added 1,000 government-funded buses to the country's roads, has been completed.

Since it was rolled out in September 2012, the programme has boosted the capacity of 218 bus services here, which accounts for 70 per cent of the services. This was achieved by deploying more double-decker buses and increasing trip frequencies, said the Land Transport Authority.

BSEP has also bumped up the total fleet of public buses to about 5,500.

LTA said that the programme, coupled with the transition to the Government's bus contracting model in 2014 where operators have to meet higher service standards, has shaved bus intervals from 30 minutes to 15 minutes.

Intervals for feeder services during peak periods have also been trimmed to six to eight minutes, from more than 10.

BSEP was introduced after the two publicly listed transport companies, SBS Transit and SMRT, were unable to cope with the burgeoning demand for bus services.

The expansion also helped ease the crunch on trains which also came under greater scrutiny after a series of breakdowns.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong commemorated the bus enhancement programme's conclusion at an event yesterday by launching a new service, 71. It is the 80th service introduced under BSEP.

PM Lee, who is also an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, took a short ride along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 before meeting residents at the Teck Ghee Market and Food Court. Service 71 starts at Yio Chu Kang bus interchange, loops at Bishan Street 11, before passing Ang Mo Kio's Avenue 4 and Avenue 1, and Bishan Road.

Senior Minister of State for Health and Transport and Sengkang West MP Lam Pin Min, who was also at the event, said a slew of new initiatives will be rolled out.

Among the initiatives - hybrid and electric buses over the next few years. Trials for autonomous vehicles will also likely be introduced from 2022 in new towns here.

Dr Lam said: "If you do a survey with commuters on the ground, many will (give) feedback that bus services have improved over the past five years, and I believe this will be an important modality in terms of public transport for Singaporeans."

LTA, which worked with the four public transport operators to roll out BSEP, also introduced 22 City Direct services over the past five years that take commuters on express routes between housing estates and the city area. These services make two one-way trips during peak periods on weekday mornings and evenings, excluding public holidays.

Last year, there was an average of about 3.9 million rides a day on buses, compared with about 3.1 million rides on the MRT.

Mr Gopinath Menon, senior transport research consultant at Nanyang Technological University, said the Government intervened "at the right time" and gave BSEP an "A plus" rating.

He said: "Trains were having a lot of problems three to four years ago. BSEP was a timely measure to solve capacity issues since trains take a long time to build."

Ms Yeo Swee Cheng, 67, a housewife and Ang Mo Kio resident, said she now has a direct route to Bishan MRT station. "It's a short distance, but to get there in the past we had to take two buses which can be especially troublesome when it rains."

LTA: Completion of the Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP) -9 Dec 2017

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