As 2020 comes to a close, let’s take a look at the happenings of this year!
COVID-19 Circuit Breaker and Measures
Singapore entered a circuit breaker phase in April-July to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. During this period, public transport operators enforced safe distancing on buses.
Bus Operators also assisted the mass transfer of COVID-19 patients between hospitals, dormitories and community facilities, with COMET (COVID-19 Multi-Passenger Enhanced Transporter). 20 SMRT MAN A22 buses and 5 SBS Transit Scania K230UB buses were converted into COMET MAXI vehicles.
Selected Recreational, Night and Express Bus Services were suspended during the circuit breaker, while cross-border services only operate within Singapore. Recreational & Night bus services continue to be suspended.
Non-Wheelchair Accessible Buses – Retirement and Preservation
This year, we bid farewell to the last of the Non-Wheelchair Accessible Buses. The Volvo B10TL (Volgren) buses were fully retired in April this year, while the Mercedes-Benz O405G Habit and Volvo B10TL (CDGE) were taken off the roads in December.
However, a few units of these buses managed to escape the scrapyard.
- SBS9817C was preserved at APSN Chaoyang School.
- SBS9844Z was purchased by a private collector and shipped to Hong Kong
- TIB1238H is currently fitted with a preserved static display vehicle license plate
SBS2988M, the first Volvo B10BLE CNG bus, was also preserved this year at St. Andrew’s Autism Centre, following its retirement in 2019.
The second stage of the TEL from Springleaf to Caldecott was originally targeted to open at the end of 2020. However, it has since been twice delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation and is now scheduled open in the third quarter of 2021.
Significant progress was made towards realising the Singapore–Johor Bahru Rapid Transit System (RTS Link). Following delays to the project at the request of Malaysia and subsequent amendments to the original Bilateral Agreement, a restated Bilateral Agreement was signed in July 2020, and construction began in November on the Johor side.
Launch of Electric Public Buses
These buses are equipped with the latest commuter-friendly features, including Passenger Information Display Systems, USB charging ports, and 2 wheelchair bays on each bus.
More New Buses
The second batch of MAN A95 Euro 6 buses was launched in March, bearing minor cosmetic differences. Registration of buses is still ongoing.
The Volvo B8L (SG4003D) trial was concluded in April and has reportedly been returned to Volvo Buses.
The Mercedes-Benz Citaro hybrid (SG4004B) made its revenue service debut on Bus Service 272 on 13 March 2020. The bus later continued the second phase of its trial on Bus Service 93, starting on 21 September 2020.
The first 3-door MAN A95 production buses have arrived on Singapore’s shores late this year and are expected to begin service next year.
Bus Service Amendment Sagas
While unprofitable and underutilized bus routes have been curtained in the past, the Land Transport Authority (LTA)’s move to withdraw Services 700/700A and amend Service 171 and 972 in August struck a discord with residents of Bukit Panjang, with members of the public calling for a stop to these arrangements.
Following discussions with MPs and LTA, the bus service changes were amended and deferred to end August.
Bus Service 101 was planned to be extended to Buangkok MRT in October. However, the route extension was cancelled by LTA on 2 October 2020, following feedback from commuters and Grassroots Adviser Ms Ng Ling Ling. In lieu of Service 101’s planned route extension, Service 114 was introduced from Buangkok MRT Station to loop at Buangkok Crescent instead.
New Transport Facilities
This year saw the opening of the relocated Jurong East Bus Interchange, an interim facility replacing the previous temporary bus interchange which would be demolished to make way for the Jurong Region Line and a future Integrated Transport Hub (ITH) projected for completion in 2027.
Retirement of NSEWL Rolling Stock
Decommisioning of C151 and C651 trains began this year. All first-generation C151 trains, second-generation C651 trains and third-generation C751B trains will be replaced by the new CR151 trains starting from 2024.
Bus Contracting Model Updates
- Tower Transit Singapore was awarded the Bulim and Sembawang-Yishun Bus Packages in September. These contracts will take effect progressively from 2Q 2021.
- Go-Ahead Singapore was also awarded a two-year contract extension of Loyang Bus Package.
- New Bus Services: 883M, 975A, 16M, 925A, 160M, 971, 972M, 114, 991C, 384
- Withdrawn Bus Services: 147e, 117B, 128, 700/700A & 167e
- Transfer of City Direct Operator: 651, 652, 657, 666, 667, 668, 670, 671 & 672
With SBS Transit operating City Direct 668 from 14 December 2020, all running City Direct bus services are now operated by Public Transport Operators.