Bus Contracting Model – Storage Buses

Under the Bus Contracting Model (BCM) for Singapore’s public bus industry, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) owns all bus assets (such as buses, bus depots, bus interchanges/terminals, and so forth). As for buses, the LTA is also responsible for the renewal and replacement of these assets, and currently maintains a pool of spare buses that can be readily leased to bus operators when needed.

However, in recent years, a steady increase in excess buses (that have not been leased to any operators) has been observed. These vehicles are registered, yet remain garaged in bus depots and not in revenue service. Furthermore, time spent while in storage still counts towards the 17-year statutory lifespan for public buses. Hence, this article aims to shed some light on current practices.

These developments come on top of an unprecedented bus industry spending, with LTA posting a $1.013 billion deficit for the 2018/19 financial year.

See also: Transitioning of Buses to BCM

Excess buses in depots

Under the BCM, bus operators pay LTA a fee to lease public buses. At the same time, operators have to meet service standards set out by the LTA, governing the frequency, operating hours and percentage of high capacity buses deployed on a route. These standards change over time as the LTA tweaks the level of service required.

As a result, bus operators have a financial incentive to optimize their operations and minimize the number of buses they lease from LTA. One way operators achieve this is through efficient scheduling of buses – for example, increased use of bus interlining (which schedules bus drivers on several different bus routes during a shift). This practice rose to notoriety when it was blamed for a spate of Bus Captain resignations in September 2016, but all bus operators engage in some form of this practice.

See also: Bus Interlining

Bus depots functioning as excess bus storage

LTA Bus Storage at Seletar Bus Depot

Storage buses are typically parked at a corner of a bus depot (most prominently in Seletar Bus Depot). They are formally assigned to an operator (the lessee of the depot where the bus is parked) by means of vehicle registration, but the operator does not use these vehicles, nor does it pay LTA to lease these buses. It is understood that the upkeep of these storage buses is maintained by the said bus operator.

Some of these storage buses were registered and directly assigned to the storage fleet, without seeing a day of revenue service.

More recently, the LTA had laid-up buses in storage, likely to avoid having to pay road tax on these vehicles. It is unclear why this is practice is carried out, since all road tax revenue is returned to the Government. With or without the lay-up, buses in storage are still formally registered and thus count down towards their 17-year statutory lifespan even while sitting unused in storage. The current practice of mothballing registered buses is thus a wasteful use of a bus’ statutory lifespan.

Buses in storage:

LTA Storage Buses (as of 20 Jan 2023)
Bus Model Quantity
Volvo B9TL 2
MAN A95 (Euro 6) 4
MAN A22 (Euro V) 64
MAN A22 (Euro 6) 68
Mercedes-Benz Citaro 32

Reference: SGWiki – LTA Storage Buses

Since 1 Feb 2020, several buses were taken out of storage for replacement of retiring Volvo B10TL buses as well as new bus services.

In late April 2020, several MAN A22 (Euro 6) buses were registered and were parked at Ulu Pandan Bus Depot under storage.

In March 2021, 29 storage MAN A22 (Euro 6) buses were transferred to Tower Transit in preparation for its awarded term of the Sembawang-Yishun Bus Package which will commence in September 2021.

In May 2021, 40 Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses under storage changed their storage location from Seletar Bus Depot to Loyang Bus Depot. 39 MAN A22 buses were transferred back to LTA Storage from Tower Transit upon the commencement of the second term of the Bulim Bus Package.

In August 2021, several MAN A95 (Euro 6) buses were registered and were parked at Ulu Pandan Bus Depot under storage.

Between October – December 2021, a large number of storage buses were taken out and leased to SBS Transit, which was for the early retirement of buses. Many of these buses are parked at Ulu Pandan Bus Depot. In addition, leftover buses from the Sembawang-Yishun Bus Package under SMRT Buses were also transferred to SBS Transit. These buses started revenue service with SBS Transit from Jan 2022.

Excess buses incoming

Despite the many buses currently in storage, a large influx of new buses is expected in the near future. Unless there are plans for a drastic increase in bus service levels in the coming months or years, the glut of excess buses in storage (registered or otherwise) will continue to exist.

In February 2020, a total of 150 Euro 6 single-deck buses (MAN A22) and 250 Euro 6 double-deck buses (MAN A95) were in the midst of registration as part of a bus purchase in 2018. Registration of these new buses has been slow due to the introduction of 50 diesel hybrid buses (Volvo B5LH) and 60 electric buses (BYD K9 (Gemilang), Linkker LM312, Yutong E12, Yutong E12DD) which are bring prioritized for introduction to revenue service.

All 250 MAN A95 Euro 6 double-deck buses and 150 MAN A22 Euro 6 single deck buses were registered as of 28 Feb 2020 & 30 Apr 2020 respectively.

In addition, the LTA has awarded tenders for more buses, namely 111 Euro 6 double-deck buses (MAN A95) awarded later in 2018, followed by a further 100 Three-Door Euro 6 Double Decker Buses scheduled to enter service in 2020. The 111 MAN A95 Euro 6 Batch 2 buses commenced registration from 20 March 2020, while the 3 Door Euro 6 Double Decker buses commenced registration from 25 January 2021.

As of 21 Jan 2022:

Euro 6 Single Deck – 1st Batch Euro 6 Double Deck – 1st Batch Euro 6 Diesel Hybrid Buses Euro 6 Double Deck – 2nd Batch Electric Buses 3-Door Double Deck buses
Quantity Registered 150 / 150 250 / 250 50 / 50 111 / 111 60 / 60 100 / 100
Registration date May 2018 – Apr 2020 May 2018 – Feb 2020 Nov 2018 – Mar 2019 Mar 2020 – Oct 2021 Jan 2020 – Aug 2021 Jan 2021 Jan 2022

One possible reason for the accelerated bus orders and deliveries can be traced to 2018. At the Committee of Supply Debate 2018, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan promised a significant 450 new buses to increase capacity on existing or new routes that run parallel to MRT lines whilst renewal works were ongoing.

To accelerate the renewal of the ageing assets, we will reinforce our bus network to provide some back-up capacity. We will be deploying 450 buses to bolster capacity along existing bus routes which support critical stretches of the rail network undergoing renewal. These are new buses. They were ordered to meet growing ridership demand and to replace our ageing bus fleet. We are opportunistically bringing forward their purchase and deployment to strengthen the resilience of our public transport network in the interim.

Some progress has been made towards delivering this promise, with the introduction of several Short Trip Services (2A, 7A, 7B), additional trips on their parent services, and a slew of full-day express bus services (12e, 147e, 167e, 851e and 960e) introduced since 2018. However, the number of new buses allocated to these new services fall far short of 450 buses, and rationalization of nearly all these routes have been carried out, with shorter operating hours for 7A, 7B, 12e, 147e, 851e & 960e, and the withdrawal of 147e.

See also: Rationalisation of Bus Service Operations (2019/2020)

Moving forward

In addition to storage buses being parked at Seletar Bus Depot (removed and parked at other depots as of mid 2021), the remaining Euro 6 MAN buses that have yet to be registered (as part of the 2018 MAN Euro 6 bus order) are parked at PLG Logistics in Tuas South and ST Engineering Land Systems’ compound at Corporation Road, and it is not known how much costs are involved for the storage of these buses at private premises.

In late 2020, PLG Logistics leased another warehouse in Tuas South to house unregistered buses such as the Linkker LM312 and the retrofitted electric bus. These buses were transferred back to the PLG Logistics Tuas South facility in April 2021 and eventually were registered in July & August 2021.

Under contractual obligations, LTA will likely continue to receive these new buses at a time when there is an excess of unused buses in Singapore, unless it works out a revised timeline to defer the delivery of these new vehicles. With LTA rationalising bus routes recently and cutting excess in a time of unprofitability, it remains to be seen if the LTA will continue to be holding on to large numbers of unregistered buses.

Parliamentary Question

In July 2022, Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song (Member of the Singapore Parliament for Aljunied GRC) asked the Minister for Transport:

  1. whether the Ministry has data on the total number of buses operated or maintained by public transport operators
  2.  of these, how many are currently stored at bus depots;
  3.  what is the average age of these buses that are stored at bus depots; and
  4.  why are these buses not being deployed for bus operations.

In response, Minister for Transport S Iswaran replied:

As of May 2022, we have around 5,800 public buses with an average fleet age of eight years. About 3% of them are kept at the depots to serve as an operational reserve.

See Also

Back to Bus Articles

144 thoughts on “Bus Contracting Model – Storage Buses

  • 15 December 2022 at 10:37 PM

    SG1890D to SG1898H must be leased out soon because vehicles can only be laid up for up to 3 consecutive years before they are automatically deregistered.

    • 31 December 2022 at 4:16 PM

      But SG1890D has been leased to SBS Transit already.

  • 4 December 2022 at 2:39 PM

    I think 80% of the remaining storage A22(E5/E6) will be leased by SBST for their Euro IV KUB that will be going off soon next year.The remaining 4 B2 A95 might be leased by Go-Ahead if they bag Jurong West contract.The remaining Citaro is standby for any Euro V unrefurbish KUB also in my opinion.

  • 18 August 2022 at 10:18 AM

    Hope LTA should remove several buses from LTA storage to SBS Transit to replace the Scania K230UB Euro Vs not selected for refurbishment which are due for early retirement next year.

  • 5 August 2022 at 9:37 AM

    Recently a bunch of MAN A22 Euro 6 went over from Bulim to Ulu Pandan Depot likely for SBS to leased. Its seems that SBS is planning on taking more Scania KUB E4 from revenue service and replacing them with these Euro 6 buses. 2 Citaros from Bulim i believe also went over. I suspect the refurbishment works will no longer be carry out for the remaining ones and they will just be replaced. This may or may not include the refurbished Batch 1 Euro 4 KUBS. Oh and a few SG MAN A22 E5 Batch 3 Also went over to Ulu Pandan as well as 1 MAN A95 E6 Batch 1 transfered from SMRT. Tbh LTA should have taken over one of the SBS33XX series B9TL from loyang for sbs to lease rather than taking 1 from SMRT which was already in service

  • 25 June 2022 at 4:31 PM

    Bulim Depot (BUDEP) (45 buses)
    Storage Fleet
    SG1706D SG1707B SG1708Z SG1712K SG1717Y SG1718U SG1719S SG1724B SG1725Z SG1726X SG1727T SG1734Y SG1735U SG1736S SG1737P SG1740D SG1741B SG1742Z SG1754P SG1755L SG1807X SG1808T SG1851S SG1852P SG1879M SG1880H SG1884Y
    27 MAN NL323F (18 Euro V Batch 3 / 9 Euro VI)

    SBS6395Y SBS6396U SBS6397S SBS6404E SBS6443S SBS6444P SG1001D SG1002B SG1178C SG1179A SG1180U SG1181S SG1182P SG1183L SG1184J
    15 Mercedes-Benz O530 Citaro (6 Batch 2 / 9 Batch 3)

    SG6241U SG6245J
    2 MAN ND323F (2 Euro VI Batch 2)

    1 Volvo B9TL (1 WEG2 Batch 4)

    Loyang Depot (LYDEP) (54 buses)
    Storage Fleet
    SMB3036M SMB3037K SMB3038H SMB3039E SMB3040A SMB3041Y SMB3042U SMB3043S SMB3044P SMB3045L SMB3046J SMB3047G SMB3048D SMB3049B SMB3050X SMB3051T SMB3053M SMB3054K SMB3055H SMB3056E SMB3057C SMB3058A SMB3059Y SMB3060S SMB3061P SMB3062L SMB3063J SMB3064G SMB3065D SMB3066B SMB3067Z SMB3068X SMB3069T SMB3070M SMB3071K SMB3072H SMB3073E SMB3074C SMB3084Z
    39 MAN NL323F (39 Euro V Batch 2)

    SBS6383G SBS6385B SBS6388T SG1228S SG1229P SG1241C SG1242A SG1243Y
    8 Mercedes-Benz O530 Citaro (3 Batch 2 / 5 Batch 3)

    SBS3302K SBS3303H SBS3311J SBS3312G SBS3313D SBS3317T SBS3318R
    7 Volvo B9TL (7 WEG2 Batch 2)

    Mandai Depot (MDDEP) (28 buses)
    Storage Fleet
    SG1811H SG1824X SG1827M SG1828K SG1829H SG1830C SG1831A SG1832Y SG1833U SG1834S SG1835P SG1836L SG1837J SG1838G SG1845K SG1846H SG1861M SG1868U SG1869S SG1870L SG1871J SG1872G SG1873D SG1874B SG1875Z SG1876X SG1877T SG1878R
    28 MAN NL323F (28 Euro VI)

    Seletar Depot (SEDEP) (13 buses)
    Storage Fleet
    SG1732C SG1733A SG1761T SG1762R SG1796T SG1802J SG1804D SG1805B SG1806Z
    9 MAN NL323F (2 Euro V Batch 3 / 7 Euro VI)

    SG1140K SG1230J SG1244U
    3 Mercedes-Benz O530 Citaro (3 Batch 3)

    1 MAN ND323F (1 Euro VI Batch 1)

    Ulu Pandan Depot (UPDEP) (19 buses)
    Storage Fleet
    SG1809R SG1810K SG1825T SG1826R SG1850U SG1890D SG1891B SG1892Z SG1893X SG1894T SG1895R SG1896M SG1897K SG1898H
    14 MAN NL323F (14 Euro VI)

    SBS6416X SG1027E
    2 Mercedes-Benz O530 Citaro (1 Batch 2 / 1 Batch 3)

    SG6203E SG6231Z SG6232X
    3 MAN ND323F (3 Euro VI Batch 2)

    Woodlands Bus Park (WLBP) (10 buses)
    Storage Fleet
    SG1728R SG1729M SG1730H SG1731E SG1739J SG1799K SG1800P SG1801L SG1803G SG1882C
    10 MAN NL323F (5 Euro V Batch 3 / 5 Euro VI)

    Unknown location (12 buses)
    Storage Fleet
    SG1848C SG1881E SG1883A
    3 MAN NL323F (3 Euro VI)

    1 MAN ND323F (1 Euro VI Batch 1)

    SBS6403H SG1185G SG1186D SG1187B SG1188Z
    5 Mercedes-Benz O530 Citaro (1 Batch 2 / 4 Batch 3)

    SG5001C SG5002A SG5003Y
    3 Volvo B9TL (3 WEG2 Batch 4)

    Now SMRT turn to ditch bus to storage.LTA need to regulate on leasing policy so that TTS doesn’t as please to ditch buses as to maximise fleets.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *