Happy New Year! Land Transport Guru takes a look at the public transport milestones to come for 2018. There will be new bus models to come, and more bus services will transition to the Bus Contracting Model with the commencement of two new route packages.
New Bus Interchanges
Kampong Bahru Bus Terminal will open in early 2018 to replace the existing New Bridge Road Bus Terminal. The existing site of New Bridge Rd Ter will be cleared to build the Elective Care Centre, a new wing of Singapore General Hospital.
Construction and completion of the second Jurong East Temporary Bus Interchange is expected to take place in 2018, with a projected operational timeframe at Q3 2018 (subject to delays). The first Temporary Bus Interchange (adjacent to Jurong East MRT) will be the site of the new Jurong East Integrated Transport Hub.
New Bus Routes & Packages
With the completion of the Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP), Year 2018 will see few new bus routes as compared to the rapid introduction of bus routes in 2012-2017. However, we are anticipating the long-awaited launch of Go-Ahead Bus Service 68 (Pasir Ris – Tampines) when residential estates in Tampines North are more developed.
Under the Bus Contracting Model, 26 existing bus services will transition to tendered contracting under the Seletar Bus Package. SBS Transit will take over 11 routes presently operated by SMRT Buses, as well as a small fleet of MAN NG363F articulated buses. This will mark a comeback for SBS Transit articulated buses ever since its two demonstrator units ceased operations back in 2006.
Results for the Bukit Merah Bus Package is also expected to be announced in the first half of 2018. The tender was closed on 28 August 2017 with 6 bids. The Land Transport Authority is currently reviewing the bids, and the future operator will take over 18 bus services under the route package in as early as 4Q 2018.
On-demand bus services will also be rolled out by the Government for the first time, with a trial to be conducted in the Joo Koon, Punggol North/West and Shenton Way/Marina South areas. Demand Responsive Transport had previously been offered by GrabShuttle Plus in 2017 within Sengkang and Punggol and is expected to grow.
New Bus Models
In the push for a more environmentally friendly public bus fleet, buses of the future will be compliant with the stringent Euro VI emissions standards for diesel engines. At the same time, alternative energy sources for buses are being explored.
SG5999Z, the 3-door, 2-staircase double deck concept bus which previously underwent a 6-month trial with Tower Transit, has also been reallocated to SBS Transit where it might commence on a new trial in 2018.
For existing buses, repainting works are ongoing to convert them into LTA’s Lush Green livery. Of particular note is SBS Transit’s Scania K230UB buses which will likely be transferred to the Bukit Merah Bus Package.
Retiring Bus Models
The last of SBS Transit’s Volvo B10M Mark IV (DM3500) and Dennis Trident are due for retirement in 2018. Purchased in the 1990s, then-Singapore Bus Services brought in 977 Volvo B10M and 20 Dennis Trident buses in total, and were a common sight on Singapore’s roads for the past two decades. These buses have been succeeded by newer Wheelchair-Accessible Buses.
Similarly, SMRT’s Mercedes-Benz O405G (Hispano Habit) will continue retirement, while the Mercedes-Benz O405G (Volgren) will commence retirement. Full retirement of these bus models is expected in 2021 and 2019 respectively, subject to early retirement.
An additional underpass connecting Bukit Panjang MRT station to a new station exit at Bukit Panjang Road (near Blk 605) is scheduled to open in 2018, providing a direct link for commuters living in Senja estate or transferring to/from bus services along Bukit Panjang Road.
Shortened operating hours along the East West Line (EWL) and North South Line (NSL) are expected to continue into 2018 to accelerate rail renewal and resignalling work. In addition, testing of the CBTC Signalling System on the EWL during revenue service hours will commence, with full-day testing expected in mid-2018. With that, commuters will no longer have to transfer to shuttle buses between Joo Koon and Gul Circle. The LTA expects resignalling work to be completed in mid-2018, with a revised full-commissioning date yet to be announced.
Following the full implementation of CBTC, C151B trains will likely be deployed on the EWL.
More C151C trains will also be delivered, which are expected to further increase the capacity on the EWL and NSL, as more trains can be operated on the line with reduced intervals brought about by the CBTC Signalling System. These trains will undergo months of rigorous testing before being deployed on the main line.
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