Second Tranche of Go-Ahead Bus Services

Go-Ahead Singapore has taken over full control of all its tendered bus services today (18 September 2016), as the second and final tranche of bus services transferred operators early this morning. Eleven (11) bus services formerly operated by SBS Transit, along with operations of Pasir Ris Bus Interchange, were transferred to Go-Ahead to be operated under the Loyang Bus Package.

Go-Ahead office at Pasir Ris Bus Interchange
Go-Ahead office at Pasir Ris Bus Interchange

Staff worked overnight at Pasir Ris Bus Interchange to ensure a smooth transition, with Go-Ahead Singapore moving into existing SBS Transit offices at Pasir Ris and the setting up of new fixtures within the bus interchange. In addition, Go-Ahead established a minor presence at Changi Village Bus Terminal as the operator of Service 2.

The successful tenderer of the Loyang Bus Package started operations in Singapore on 4th September 2016 on 13 existing bus services originating from Punggol Bus Interchange. It will also operate Service 68, a future bus route plying between Pasir Ris and Tampines to be introduced in 2017.

Bus Services

Service Destination 1 Destination 2 Type Description
2 Changi Village New Bridge Road Trunk
6 Pasir Ris ↺ Loyang Way Trunk No operation on Sun & PHs
12 Pasir Ris New Bridge Road Trunk
15 Pasir Ris ↺ Marine Parade Trunk
17 Pasir Ris ↺ Bedok Trunk
17A Bedok → Bedok North Ave 4 Trunk / SWT BSEP Supplementary
36 Changi Airport ↺ Tomlimson Road Trunk F1 Diversion on 18/19 Sep
354 Pasir Ris ↺ Jln Loyang Besar Feeder
358 Pasir Ris ↺ Pasir Ris Dr 4 / 10 TownLink
359 Pasir Ris ↺ Pasir Ris St 11 / 71 TownLink
403 Pasir Ris ↺ Pasir Ris Rd Feeder
518 Pasir Ris ↺ Bayfront Ave Express F1 Diversion on 18/19 Sep
518A Pasir Ris → Bayfront Ave Express Weekdays AM Peak
F1 Diversion on 19 Sep

Service 17A and 518A are considered as supplementary services of their parent service and do not add to the overall service count. Services 6 and 518A do not operate on Sundays and will hence be launched on Monday, 19th September 2016.

Physical Changes

As the Anchor Operator of Pasir Ris Bus Interchange, Go-Ahead took over the main Passenger Service Counter (PSC) from SBS Transit. The SBS Transit office now operates from an adjacent room. Route Information boards at Pasir Ris were updated to display all Go-Ahead bus services, and a guide rack was installed by Go-Ahead, distributing bus service guides.

As with Punggol Interchange, the scheduled bus departures screen shows scheduled departure times and not actual departure times. Promotional banners were also put up around the interchange.

For Changi Airport PTB2, Go-Ahead did not took over the existing basement office previously used by SBS Transit, with the office having been locked up. Bus Information panels within the bus terminal were also updated for Service 36. The office might undergo renovations in the near future before Go-Ahead officially moves in. A makeshift table was set up next the the office for use by Go-Ahead staff.

For Changi Village Bus Terminal, a concrete office cum staff lounge was built in the middle of the bus park, next to the existing SBS Transit office.

Bus Fleet

Go-Ahead’s Pasir Ris bus fleet comprises Volvo B9TL double-deck buses, along with Mercedes-Benz Citaro single-deck buses. A majority of these buses were transferred to Go-Ahead from SBS Transit a day earlier, and were running with SBS Transit base livery.

Volvo B9TL buses, built to SBS Transit interior specifications, can be seen operating on authorized double-deck services in a mix of LTA’s Lush Green livery and SBS Transit base livery. A majority of these buses are second-hand, having previously been in revenue service with SBS Transit, and transferred to Go-Ahead a day earlier. Small Go-Ahead stickers were pasted onto freshly-transferred buses with SBS Transit base livery, although a small number of them were operating without those stickers.

Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses are also built to SBS Transit interior specifications. They bear a mix of LTA’s Lush Green livery and SBS Transit base livery. A majority of these buses are second-hand, having previously been in revenue service with SBS Transit, and transferred to Go-Ahead a day earlier. Small Go-Ahead stickers were pasted onto freshly-transferred buses with SBS Transit base livery, although a small number of them were operating without those stickers.

Operational Matters

Go-Ahead operations began relatively smoothly at Pasir Ris this time, in stark contrast to events which unfolded at Punggol Bus Interchange two weeks earlier, and the bus park was not overcrowded throughout the day. Despite the smooth start, several services encountered instances of long headway in the afternoon.

Go-Ahead was faced with the additional challenge of taking over Service 36 and 518/A during the F1 Diversion Period. Owing to large-scale road closures within the City due to the Singapore Airlines Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, these services would ply diverted routes on the 18th and 19th September 2016. Additionally, it would extend the operating hours of 358 and 359 on the 18th in tandem with extended train operating hours, with the last buses departing Pasir Ris at 1.55am the next day.

Service 17:

Formerly Pasir Ris – Bedok (Loop), Service 17 has been converted to a bi-directional service.

Service 17A:
Go-Ahead Mercedes-Benz Citaro (SBS6487R) - Service 17A
Go-Ahead Mercedes-Benz Citaro (SBS6487R) – Service 17A

Previously operating from Bedok North Avenue 4 (SBS Transit Bedok North Depot) and looping at Bedok Interchange, Go-Ahead has shortened Supplementary Service 17A from Bedok Interchange to Bedok North Avenue 4 only (similar to a Shortworking Trip), as reflected in the Electronic Display Signage of Service 17A buses, but continues to operate throughout the day.

Under Go-Ahead, ‘Service 17A’ buses continue to run bidirectionally between Bedok North Avenue 4 and Bedok Interchange throughout the day, but for the first leg of the journey (Bedok North Avenue 4 → Bedok Int), buses will operate as Service 17. Upon reaching the interchange, these buses will switch over to Service 17A for the return journey (Bedok Int → Bedok North Avenue 4).

Service 17A: Before and after the Go-Ahead takeover
Service 17A: Before and after the Go-Ahead takeover
Service 36:

Breaking away with with SBS Transit’s mode of operation, passengers on Service 36 had to frequently swap buses at Changi Airport PTB2 before continuing on the next trip, whereas previously, passengers would simply remain onboard the bus for a few minutes until the next driver takes over. This was due to the Trapeze system tying the bus to the Bus Captain, which forces the bus to remain at Changi Airport PTB2 while the Bus Captains take their break. This caused a large number of Service 36 buses (Up to 5 buses) laying over Changi Airport Terminal 2, obstructing traffic flow for other bus services at the basement.

Go-Ahead buses laying over at Changi Airport PTB2 Basement
Go-Ahead buses laying over at Changi Airport PTB2 Basement

An attempt was made to adopt the former ‘jumpbus‘ mode of operation in the afternoon, where Go-Ahead staff stationed at Changi Airport Terminal 2 had to assist with the changing of drivers and swapping of “Bus Run Numbers” within the Trapeze system while passengers remained onboard. The staff member also manually swapped the “Bus Run Number” piece of paper at the front of the bus. Despite such attempts, passengers were forced to swap buses on several occasions.

Buses scheduled to return back to Loyang Bus Depot will display “Off Service” before Airport Blvd and at Terminals 3 and 2 for onboard passengers from Orchard / Marine Parade to alight. Go-Ahead incorporates certain trips that would return to Loyang Bus Depot for a split break (break between split shifts) or meal break.


  • No Timings for Service 358 & 359 (East Loop) at Pasir Ris Interchange

The Next Bus departure timings flashed on TV Screens at Pasir Ris Bus Interchange only shows the departure timings for the WEST Loop of Services 358 & 359. There are no indications on the display screen that indicates that the timing shown refers to the west loop.

There are no departure timings shown for the East Loop of Services 358 & 359. Commuters may choose to use mobile phone applications to check for the East Loop bus timings.

  • Inconsistency of Service 358 & 359 Last Bus Timings

The last bus timings provided at the berth did not match the timings printed on the bus service guides. These service guides also do not mention the first and last bus departure timings from Pasir Ris Interchange for the East Loop of both 358 & 359.

  • CFMS Errors & Service confusion

Several buses encountered issues with the CFMS system, where the system froze or could not log in. Additionally, the confusion encountered by bus drivers in the midst of swapping buses between trips (‘jumpbus’) and the way Go-Ahead denotes its duty numbers led to delayed trips and, on one instance, a bus driver departing Pasir Ris Interchange on the wrong service (Departed as Service 358, supposed to be on Service 17, bus alighted passengers a few stops later).

Why is Go-Ahead scheduling so messed up?

Go-Ahead schedules its buses and drivers in a unique way that creates a recipe for confusion, using Duty Numbers (4-digits) and Run Numbers (4-digits), with the duty numbers being tied to individual buses, and the run numbers being allocated to a group of trips which a bus driver needs to perform, most often spanning a bus driver’s working hours between breaks.

However, in-between trips (usually a mealbreak), another driver would be scheduled to take over the same bus, an arrangement which better utilizes resources and saves parking space. The new driver taking over the bus might be scheduled to drive on a different service, but the Run Number to be entered as well as displayed on the CFMS reflects the first service of the day which the bus operated on, thereby causing the confusion.

Without permanent deployments, (e.g. SBS Transit drivers carry a waybill that instructs them which exact bus (by registration number) to take over during jumpbus operations, while Go-Ahead drivers only have a 3 digit run number to match with a small piece of paper placed in front of the bus) and compounded by the effects of a delayed bus cascading through the schedule (and even withdrawn buses due to unforeseen circumstances), Go-Ahead scheduling is a recipe for confusion for Bus Captains and interchange dispatchers alike. Such aggressive scheduling – intended to make the best possible use of the least possible resources to gain an advantage during BCM contract bidding – led to operational chaos evident during the first few days of Go-Ahead operations at Punggol.

Go-Ahead is expected to revise its scheduling system to reduce room for error by cutting down the number of crossovers, although the company is already strained with Bus Captain numbers. A shortage of Bus Captains likely resulted in outsourcing their Employee Bus Routes to Tower Transit.

Service 359
Service 359 “Pasir Ris Dr St 71”
  • Error in Service 359 EDS

A scroll in the Service 359 Electronic Display Unit (EDS) reads “Pasir Ris Dr St 71”.

  • Accident at Changi Airport

A Mercedes-Benz Citaro (SG1060H) dislodged its left mirror within the Changi Airport basement.

Service Guide Errors:
  • Service 15: Shortworking Trip 15A not reflected
  • Service 36: Incorrect 36A and 36B routing
  • Service 358, 359: Error in departure timings

Other observations

  • Special Sunday Schecule

All second-tranche Go-Ahead bus services were running on a Special Sunday schedule owing to the F1 Diversions.

Services 358P and 359P have had their operating details removed from the berths after their withdrawal. Berth signages have been updated, along with the service number plate along the queue line which now shows ‘(East Loop)‘.

  • “Townlink” 358 & 359, Use of “T”-plate

Bus Services 358 & 359 have been reflected as ‘Townlink’ services inside the Electronic Display Signage. The namesake first coined by SBS Transit appears to be retained by Go-Ahead.

Terminating trips of Services 358 and 359 continue to use the “T”-plate, a practice from the SBS Transit era which denotes that the bus will be terminating at Pasir Ris Interchange at the end of the trip. Go-Ahead appears to be continuing this practice, with old “T”-plates being recycled from SBS Transit and used onboard buses.

Express Service 518 retained its stylized ‘Express’ logo within the Electronic Display Signage (EDS), which was in use during SBS Transit operations. Go-Ahead added an additional scroll for route details.

  • Alighting Berth closed

Alighting Berth B1 was closed throughout the day for repainting works.

Employee Buses operated by Tower Transit

Tower Transit buses at Loyang Depot, operating Employee Bus Routes for Go-Ahead
Tower Transit buses at Loyang Depot, operating Employee Bus Routes for Go-Ahead

Main Article: Tower Transit operating Go-Ahead Employee Shuttle Buses

Away from the eyes of the general public, Go-Ahead Singapore appears to have outsourced its eight Employee Bus Routes to Tower Transit, which have been operating them since 18 September 2016, the same day the second tranche of bus services commenced operations. In a surprise move by the Loyang Bus package operator, the move was likely an attempt to tide over the company’s shortage of Bus Captains.

Visit the Main Article for more information.


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