City Direct Bus Service 656

City Direct Service 656 is an AM/PM Peak City Direct service between Sembawang and the CBD, passing through Sembawang Drive, Bras Basah and Shenton Way. It is the sixth City Direct route introduced under the Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP).

SMRT Buses Ltd took over operations of City Direct Service 656 on 17 Apr 2017 with changes in trip timings.



City Direct 656:
Canberra Rd
→ Shenton Way | Anson Rd → Canberra Rd
AM Peak
Towards CBD
PM Peak
Towards Canberra
  • Canberra Rd
    – Blk 424A CP
  • Admiralty Lane (Express)
  • Admiralty Link
    – Opp Blk 491
    – Blk 404A CP
  • Sembawang Dr
    – Blk 405
    – Blk 354 CP
    – Sun Plaza
    – Blk 317
  • Sembawang Ave
    – Blk 303
  • Sembawang Rd (Express)
  • Upp Thomson Rd (Express)
  • SLE (Express)
  • CTE (Express)
  • Buyong Rd (Express)
  • Orchard Rd
    – Dhoby Ghaut Stn
  • Bras Basah Rd
    – Rendezvous Grand Hotel
    – NTUC Income Ctr
    – Raffles Hotel
  • Nicoll Highway
    – Opp War Memorial Pk
  • Esplanade Dr (Express)
  • Collyer Quay
    – OUE Bayfront
  • Raffles Quay
    – One Raffles Quay
  • Shenton Way
    – UIC Bldg
    – Opp MAS Bldg
  • Anson Rd
    – Mapletree Anson
  • Robinson Rd
    – Aft Capital Twr
    – Opp The Ogilvy Ctr
    – Raffles Pl Stn Exit F
  • Fullerton Rd
    – Fullerton Sq
  • Esplanade Dr
    – Esplanade Bridge
  • Stamford Rd
    – Capitol Bldg
    – SMU
  • Orchard Rd
    – YMCA
  • Penang Rd
    – Dhoby Ghaut Stn
  • Buyong Rd (Express)
  • CTE (Express)
  • SLE (Express)
  • Upp Thomson Rd (Express)
  • Sembawang Rd (Express)
  • Sembawang Ave
    – Opp Blk 303
  • Sembawang Dr
    – Blk 328
    – Opp Sun Plaza
    – Blk 357C
    – Blk 478
  • Admiralty Link
    – Blk 482A CP
    – Blk 491
  • Admiralty Lane (Express)
  • Canberra Rd
    – Blk 508 CP


Technical Information
[AM]: Canberra Road (Blk 424A CP) → Shenton Way (Opp MAS Bldg)
[PM]: Anson Road (Mapletree Anson) → Canberra Road (Blk 508 CP)
Passes Through Admiralty Link, Sembawang Dr, Dhoby Ghaut
Route Length 29.4km (D1) | 29.6km (D2)
Traveling Time 77 mins (AM) | 81 mins (PM)
Operator Information
BCM Route Package City Direct Bus Services
Current Operator SMRT Buses Ltd
Current Depot Ang Mo Kio Bus Depot (AMDEP)
Current Fleet 12-metre Single Deck Bus
Departure Times from Canberra Rd
0720 – 0740 (Weekdays except Public Holidays), 3 Trips
Departure Times from Anson Rd
1810 – 1825 (Weekdays except Public Holidays), 2 Trips
Frequency AM Peak
PM Peak
10 mins 15 mins

City Direct Service 656 provides residents of Sembawang with greater connectivity to the CBD. Running parallel to existing rail lines, the service provides a travel alternative for commuters who relied on the rail network and feeder buses to and from work. The route incorporates an express sector between Sembawang Avenue and Dhoby Ghaut via SLE and CTE.

This is the sixth City Direct service to be introduced under the Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP), providing more options for commuters using stretches of the existing rail lines that experience persistently high ridership, while the ongoing rail enhancement measures are being implemented.

From 10 March 2014, less than a month after introduction, an additional morning trip was added. Existing departure timings were revised. Yet another additional morning trip was added from 14 July 2014, bringing the total number of morning trips to the CBD to four. Following the takeover by SMRT Buses on 17 Apr 2017, morning trips were reduced to three.

Bus Schedule:

  • AM Peak from Canberra Rd: 0720hrs, 0730hrs, 0740hrs
  • PM Peak from Anson Rd: 1810hrs, 1825hrs

Fares: Charges regular distance-based express fares. Calculate your bus fare using LTA’s fare calculator on here.

Fleet: Service 656’s fleet comprises single-deck buses from SMRT Buses.


Poster Gallery:


Operator History:

  • 17 Feb 2014 – 14 Apr 2017: Loh Gim Chong Transport
  • 17 Apr 2017 onwards: SMRT Buses Ltd


  • 2014 (17 Feb): Introduced as a bidirectional AM/PM-Peak hour service from Sembawang to the CBD under the BSEP. Operates two trips on weekday mornings at 7:25am and 7:40am, and weekday evenings at 6:10pm and 6:25pm. Charges Distance-based flat fares.
  • 2014 (10 Mar): Third morning trip added, departure times from Sembawang revised to 7:20am, 7:30am and 7:40am.
  • 2014 (06 Apr): Revised fares as part of the Public Transport Fare Adjustment 2014
  • 2014 (14 Jul): Fourth morning trip added, departure times from Sembawang revised to 7:20am, 7:26am, 7:34am and 7:40am.
  • 2015 (23 Mar): Calls at new bus stop 03241 Anson Rd – Mapletree Anson instead of 03222 Anson Rd – Hub Synergy Point
  • 2016 (18 Jan): Operating contract for City Direct 656 by Loh Gim Chong Transport extended by one more year.
  • 2017 (17 Apr): Operations transferred to SMRT Buses Ltd with changes to AM Peak Trips. Departure times revised to 7:20am, 7:30am and 7:40am.

External Links & References:

Back to Bus Services
Back to City Direct Services
Back to Bus Articles

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8 thoughts on “City Direct Bus Service 656

  • 25 April 2017 at 7:12 PM

    No one can deny that this change is a downgrade in term of level of comfort. What used to be a comfy bus ride with fully paded chair with head rest has now been changed to not-even-as-good-as-SBS kinda chair..

    Comfort level aside (though it has been solely responsible for my gloomy morning mood since 17 April 2017 and neck pain, remember no headrest..), the timeliness of bus arrival is no where near as good as the previous operator.. It has been just a lil over a week of operation but being one of the two leading bus operators here, passengers will expect a smooth transition.

    Eg. Previously the last bus leaving the last stop in Sembawang will reach anytime between 7.50 to 7.55am but now it is anywhere between 7.55am and 8.10am! Leaving passengers in a very uncomfortable position on whether to ditch the idea of continuing waiting for the bus or savage whatever time left to take the train to work on the assumption that it has left.. 5 mins makes a lot of difference in the morning rush hrs and how i used to be 5-10 mins early for work now changed to 5-10min late since the change!

    On 25 April, the last bus leaving CBD shd be at 6.25 pm at the first stop but the bus only arrived close to 6.35pm! Having waited for abt 10mins, i assumed ive missed the bus and walked towards the mrt.. only to see the bus drove past later on..

    Buck up and have a lil bit more control or else let the other professionals do the work..

    • 28 April 2017 at 8:01 PM

      I deny. (“No one” is a strong term by the way) Once the next operator takes over, you would have wished it was the previous operator. If you believe each operator is worse one after another, then what’s the point of introducing Premium or City Direct buses?

      • 9 May 2017 at 6:54 PM

        Well..mind englightening me in what way the level of comfort is an upgrade or near on par.. 😊

        Nah.. if the next operator maintains or up the standard, why would i want to forcefully believe its worse than the previous.. Im being realistic rather than pessimistic here.. Oh well, each his own opinion..Anyway its a First world problem..Hopefully everything runs smoothly from now on..

        Though i do not understand how my “believe each operator is worse one after another” (which is not the case), has any bearing on “the point of introducing Premium or City Direct buses”… My thoughts above are just to compare the two operators and not comparing the pros and cons of City Direct.. Im all for City direct/Premium service.. Kudos for the idea and initiative..! 😊

        • 24 May 2017 at 5:14 PM

          I do think that the service has suffered a lapse in quality after the change of transport operators both from the level of comfort as a commuter as well as the frequency and the punctuality of the bus arrivals. I was also able to monitor the buses via the app so that I can get an idea on the bus arrivals.
          It is most unfortunate because I do enjoy the rides more previously and I suspect our comments here will not amount to much. If you do take this matter to heart, please voice it out in the SMRT facebook page or on a more public forum.

  • 19 April 2017 at 10:03 PM

    Hi, since SMRT took over,the bus is almost full even on the 3rd stop. Many are unhappy including myself. Previously MY bus used to accommodate to all with seats and 4 timings in the morning instead of 3. It used to be maximum of 15 inline to board the bus but now it’s more than 30. Please help to look into the matter and expedite as soon as possible. A double decker is a good idea.

  • 18 April 2017 at 9:14 AM

    Hi, today is my 2nd day taking bus 656 under SMRT.
    I have been taking this bus 656 since it started under MY Bus. This service has sure provided a lot of convenience to us commuters working in Shenton way, another reason is because it has sufficient seats to accommodate a lot of us not having to squeeze into the mrt hence we are willing to pay slightly higher price. However, I realize that since SMRT has taken over the operation of this bus service, the size of the bus has also shrink and the timing is lesser by one. In this way, a lot of commuters could not board the bus and also have not seats even if they manage to board. We hope that maybe you can change the bus to a double-decker bus like 951E (as it is also a city direct bus and it used to be a single deck but now has change to a double deck to accommodate more people). We hope you can consider our option and maybe if possible to increase one more timing if possible earlier as some of us start work at 8.30am and by the time the bus arrive at UOE Bayfront bus-stop, the bus queue is already very long and the bus has to take very long for passengers to go down. Hopefully our comments can be responded and the commuters will be more happy to take this bus.

    • 28 April 2017 at 8:03 PM

      Hopefully SMRT can increase at least one trip timing or upgrade to one or two double-deckers. Be hopeful.

  • 12 July 2016 at 7:52 AM

    Thank you for providing the 656 service. The first bus arrived at the second bus stop at 729am today, instead of 722/723am (first bus should start at 720). Many people now have the option of flexi work timings. Will it be possible to start the first bus earlier please perhaps at 710 instead of squeezing all 4 buses to arrive between 10-15 mins of each other? That way people can go in office earlier and leave earlier, giving commuters a more varied option. The first bus was also packed full to the brim with people standing till the front. I’m sure if the bus comes earlier this problem can be solved. Thank you.


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