Also check out: Go-Ahead borrowing Bus Captains from SBS Transit and SMRT
Due to a shortage of Bus Captains, Go-Ahead Singapore has resorted to borrowing Bus Captains from SBS Transit and SMRT Buses with effect from Wednesday, 21st September 2016. In an abrupt revelation made known to the public only the day before, the two existing Public Transport Operators (PTOs) would be contributing a total of 40 Bus Captains to Go-Ahead, as part of a short-term sub-contracting arrangement to ease the labour crunch during this period.
30 Bus Captains from SBS Transit and 10 Bus Captains from SMRT Buses will join Go-Ahead for a period of two months. The SBS Transit drivers were deployed on Services 358 and 359, which existing drivers would already be familiar with. The SMRT drivers underwent route familiarization to prepare them for deployment on Go-Ahead Service 85.
SBS Transit responded to Go-Ahead’s urgent request for Bus Captains promptly, putting forward up to 30 Bus Captains on the first day (21st September 2016). The ex-operator took over full operations of Townlink Services 358 and 359, with drivers previously familiarized with these routes, freeing up Go-Ahead Bus Captains for other bus routes.
The 30 SBS Transit Bus Captains underwent a one-day familiarization with Go-Ahead administrative procedures and were deployed on Service 358 and 359 for a period of planned two month duration, driving Go-Ahead Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses.
Service 358 and 359 were operating with old SBS Transit schedules rather than Go-Ahead schedules, in a move likely owing to Go-Ahead’s poor scheduling (drivers were scheduled with up to 5 hours of continuous driving, without breaks), and SBS Transit drivers’ greater familiarity with their own company scheduling. As such, both feeder services were not running with the CFMS units logged on.
The return of SBS Transit drivers to Pasir Ris Townlink services did not represent much of a novelty owing to existing SBS Transit bus services operating out of Pasir Ris Interchange and SBS Transit’s strong presence in Pasir Ris for decades.
While Go-Ahead Singapore resumed operations of Service 359 from 21 November 2016 onwards, it extended the sub-contracting period for Bus Service 358 to SBS Transit until 1 January 2017. Service 358 resumed Go-Ahead operations from 2 January 2017 onwards.
SMRT Buses contributed 10 Bus Captains to Go-Ahead, most or all of them having already been based out of Loyang Bus Depot. These Bus Captains were all allocated to Service 85 between Punggol and Yishun, operating alongside Go-Ahead Bus Captains on the same bus route, and first appeared on the roads on Wednesday, 28 September 2016.
Before being deployed on Go-Ahead revenue service, the 10 SMRT Bus Captains underwent a two-day familiarization with Go-Ahead, with one day allocated to administrative procedures and the other allocated to bus and route familiarization. They were deployed on Service 85 for a period of two months, driving Go-Ahead Volvo B9TL buses.
The SMRT Bus Captains were trained to operate the Trapeze CFMS system in the context of Go-Ahead’s operations, and were running with the system logged on, adhering to Go-Ahead’s schedule. The duties that SMRT Bus Captains cover are only Morning and Afternoon shifts (no split-shifts), and their duties are not interlined out (meaning that the Bus Captain will stick to one bus for the duration of his shift).
SMRT Bus Captains on Service 85 represent a unique novelty as the route has never been operated by SMRT, and was likely chosen because Yishun is familiar ground for many SMRT Bus Captains, and SMRT being the anchor operator for Yishun Bus Interchange.
Fully allocated to double-deck Volvo B9TL buses, these SMRT Bus Captains driving SBS Transit-spec buses are not an entirely new occurrence after SMRT Volvo B9TL buses began operations a month ago. It is, however, reminiscent of the incidents in 2012, where SMRT Buses borrowed Bus Captains from SBS Transit and Private Bus Operators for months in the aftermath of a labour strike that terminated the employment of many bus drivers recruited from China. This time, SMRT manages to offers its resources to assist another bus company in need of manpower.
Go-Ahead Singapore resumed full operations of Service 85 from 21 November 2016 onwards.
Update by Go-Ahead Singapore
In a press release on 5 Nov 2016, Go-Ahead Singapore announced that their “sub-contracting of Bus Captains” on Bus Service 359 as well as Bus Service 85 (operated by some SMRT Bus Captains) will end on 20 November 2016. Bus Services 85 and 359 will be fully driven by Go-Ahead Bus Captains from 21 November 2016.
However, in order to “optimise its existing pool of Bus Captains”, Go-Ahead Singapore has extended the sub-contracting period for Bus Service 358 to SBS Transit until an estimated date of 1 Jan 2017.
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