Bukit Merah Bus Package

The Bukit Merah Bus Package is one of fourteen bus packages under the Bus Contracting Model (BCM).

Incumbent SBS Transit Ltd
Present Contract Term Tendered Package 1st Term (Contract PT203):
Nov 2018 – Nov 2023
Bus Services 5, 16/16M, 57, 93, 120, 121, 122, 123/123M, 131, 145, 160/160M, 170/170X, 195, 198, 272, 273 & 400 (17 bus routes)
Bus Depot Ulu Pandan Bus Depot
Bus Interchanges Bukit Merah Bus Interchange, HarbourFront Bus Interchange, Kampong Bahru Bus Terminal, Queen Street Bus TerminalShenton Way Bus TerminalMarina Centre Bus Terminal

Under the BCM, bus routes are bundled into bus packages, consisting of a single bus depot, several bus interchanges/terminals, the bus routes and the buses themselves. With all bus infrastructure belonging to the Government, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) would contract out the bus package, select a bus operator (through a competitive tendering process), and lease these assets to the new operator.

The successful tenderer operates these bus routes and collects fares on behalf of LTA, while maintaining the associated bus infrastructure (buses & onboard equipment, depots, interchanges & terminals). In return, the operator is awarded an operating fee from LTA and potential bonuses via an incentive framework.

BCM Negotiated Contract:

Bus services under the Bukit Merah Bus Package were operated by SBS Transit as well. At the start of the Bus Contracting Model, the incumbent operator continued to operate these bus services under a Negotiated Contract basis from Sep 2016 – Nov 2018:

  • Operated by SBS Transit (PT205)
    5, 16, 57, 93, 120, 121, 122, 123/123M, 131/131M, 145, 160, 170/170X, 195, 198, 272, 273, 400 & 402

The first tendered contract for Bukit Merah Bus Package was awarded to SBS Transit in 2018, who continued to operate the services when the Tendered Package contract started in Nov 2018.

Refer to Page 2 for the Bukit Merah Bus Package – Negotiated Contract term (Sep 2016 – Nov 2018).

PT218 – Bukit Merah Bus Package (2nd Tendered Term)

The second term tendered contract for the Bukit Merah Bus Package was put up for tender on 23 November 2022 together with the Jurong West Bus Package under Contract PT218: Bus Contracting – Bukit Merah and Jurong West Bus Packages.

The tender closes on 5 April 2023.

PT203 – Bukit Merah Bus Package (Present Term: 2018 to 2023):

First announced on 11 August 2016, the Bukit Merah Bus Package was the fourth set of public bus services to be put up for tender under the Bus Contracting Model. SBS Transit operated all bus services in this package under a Negotiated Contract (NC) model before transitioning to a Tendered Contract model as the successful tenderer of the Bukit Merah Bus Package. This package crucially covers SBS Transit’s major cross-border operations (Service 160, 170 and 170X).

In February 2018, SBS Transit Ltd secured the Bukit Merah Bus Package tender, based on a tender sum of $482 million over five years. The 18 bus routes (as of tender award) were based out of the newly-built Ulu Pandan Bus Depot, located at Business Park Drive, which was completed in Q1 2018 and is able to accommodate 470 buses.

The package started with a fleet of 340 buses when implemented in November 2018, and was projected to grow to about 390 buses in tandem with new developments and projected growth in ridership.

Contract Details (1st Tendered Package Term):
Contract PT203: Bus Contracting – Bukit Merah Bus Package
Awarded Operator SBS Transit Ltd
Duration Five years; with the option of 2-year extension based on good performance
Key Dates Tender Published 28 Apr 2017 | Closed 28 Aug 2017 | Awarded 23 Feb 2018
Commenced Operations 18 Nov 2018
Bus Services 5, 16/16M, 57, 93, 120, 121, 122, 123/123M, 131, 145, 160/160M, 170/170X, 195, 198, 272, 273 & 400
Anchor Bus Depot Ulu Pandan Bus Depot
Anchor Bus Interchange / Terminal Bukit Merah Bus Interchange, HarbourFront Bus Interchange, Kampong Bahru Bus Terminal, Queen Street Bus TerminalShenton Way Bus TerminalMarina Centre Bus Terminal
Bidding Process:

As of the tender closing time, 6 bids were submitted from hopeful operators.

S/No Country Tenderer Price for 5 Years
Amount (S$)
1. China / Local Jiaoyun Group Corporation / Travel GSH Pte Ltd Consortium 418,835,946.60
2. Local SBS Transit Ltd 474,965,108.00
Alternative Bid: 471,965,108.00
3. China Shenzhen Bus Group Co. Ltd. 449,264,285.00
4. Local SMRT Buses Ltd 444,925,777.00
5. Local The Go-Ahead Group Plc 518,706,175.00
6. Local Tower Transit Singapore Pte. Ltd. 483,796,997.00
Contract Award:

Tender submissions were evaluated based on a two-envelope process looking at quality and price factors. The price submissions were only opened after the quality evaluation was completed, ensuring that the best value-for-money proposal was selected without compromising on quality.

On Friday, 23 February 2018, LTA announced SBS Transit Ltd as awarded operator of the Bukit Merah Bus Package. The LTA press release cited its reasons for picking SBS Transit:

  • Demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of the operational considerations
  • Strong competence in bus service scheduling that would enable the optimal deployment of buses and resources
  • Extensive experience in bus operations, while offering good value for money
  • Comprehensive contingency plans for cross-border services
  • Committed a significant number of experienced technicians to ensure high maintenance and reliability standards
  • Demonstrated innovative IT solutions for infrastructure and asset maintenance, as well as security management, with the development of several in-house mobile applications for staff to report defects and incidents
  • Presented a career development programme to up-skill its staff, with more opportunities for career progression
Alternative Proposal

The alternative proposal awarded involves SBS Transit leveraging on its existing bus fleet and bus depots to optimise bus operations. This involved garaging some buses which operate on Bukit Merah Bus Package bus services at other bus depots; for example, Service 57 is partially garaged at Ang Mo Kio Bus Depot, and 198 is partially garaged at Soon Lee Bus Depot.

In addition, several bus services from other Bus Packages operated by SBS Transit under a Negotiated Contract also garage at Ulu Pandan Bus Depot, such as Service 95 & 201.

Additional Initiatives:
  • SBS Transit introduced iSafe to provide Bus Captains with a complete overview of their driving behaviour using technology as an independent assessor.
    The iSafe package includes:
    – SAfe Green Eco System (SAGE), which aims to improve the safety of buses, to monitor the smoothness and comfort of bus rides provided by Bus Captains (BCs). The system records and monitors the BC’s driving behaviour such as speeding and harsh acceleration with feedback given in real-time through audio and visual alerts. The system is provided by TNT Surveillance.
    Golden Eye Driver Anti-Fatigue system by TNT Surveillance
    Mobileye Collision Avoidance System
  • SBS Transit also set up a new Bus Technical Specialist Certification Centre (BTSCC) at Ulu Pandan Depot for the Singapore Bus Academy (SGBA). This would enhance the professionalism of engineering and technical staff in the bus industry. SBS Transit’s experienced engineering staff would be involved in curriculum development and conducting assessments and certification.
  • Free WiFi installed on all bus services under the Bukit Merah Bus Package from February 2019.
  • Interactive touchscreen panels at Bukit Merah and Harbourfront Bus Interchanges to provide convenient access to travel information – the panels will display comprehensive and user-friendly information such as bus services, bus departure times, bus routes and locality map. Commuters can also catch up on up-to-date information such as service extension hours, and even routes that are being diverted or delayed.
  • Feedback panels at Bukit Merah and Harbourfront Bus Interchanges near the Passenger Service Office allow commuters to conveniently share immediate feedback on bus interchanges’ facilities such as toilet cleanliness and lighting of the interchanges. This will allow SBS Transit to take corrective action quickly to improve the travel experience.
  • Quarterly Commuter Chat sessions at Bukit Merah and Harbourfront Bus Interchanges for SBS Transit managers to engage commuters and listen to their feedback.
  • Dedicated television screens at Bukit Merah and Harbourfront Bus Interchanges displaying information on local community events and activities to engage residents in the neighbourhood.
  • Mobile charging points for commuters to recharge their devices at bus interchanges.
  • Umbrella dispensers at Bukit Merah and Harbourfront Bus Interchanges (by Nestia) near the Passenger Service Office to allow commuters to borrow umbrellas for free for 24 hours during rainy days via a mobile application.

Bus Services:

Bukit Merah Bus Package currently consists of 17 existing bus services, all of which are operated by SBS Transit. Services 160, 170 & 170X are cross-border bus services.

Service Route Type
5 Pasir Ris Bukit Merah Trunk
16 Bedok Bukit Merah Trunk
57 Bishan Bukit Merah Trunk
93 HarbourFront Eunos Trunk
120 Kampong Bahru ↺ Telok Blangah Heights Trunk
121 Kampong Bahru ↺ Telok Blangah Rise Trunk
122 Kampong Bahru ↺ Commonwealth Drive Trunk
123 Bukit Merah Beach Station (Sentosa) Trunk
131 Saint Michael’s Bukit Merah Trunk
145 Toa Payoh Buona Vista Trunk
160 Jurong East ↺ Jalan Jim Quee (JB Sentral) Trunk
170 Queen Street Larkin Trunk
195 Marina Centre ↺ Commonwealth Avenue Trunk
198 Boon Lay Bukit Merah Trunk
272 Bukit Merah ↺ Telok Blangah Rise Feeder
273 Bukit Merah ↺ Henderson Road Feeder
400 Shenton Way ↺ Marina Coastal Drive Trunk
Short Trip & Supplementary Bus Services

These services do not add to the overall service count.

Service Route Type
Bedok Bukit Merah Supplementary
123M HarbourFront ↺ Tiong Bahru Road Supplementary
131A Saint Michael’s → Shenton Way (Opp AXA Twr) Short Trip
145A Tiong Bahru Road (Redhill Stn) → Henderson Road (Blk 1) Short Trip
160A Jurong East → Bukit Batok Road (Opp Dunearn Sec Sch) Short Trip
160M Jurong East ↺ Bukit Batok Road Supplementary
170X Kranji MRT Station JB Sentral Supplementary
195A Marina Centre → Tiong Bahru Road (Tiong Bahru Stn) Short Trip
198A Boon Lay → Jurong East Avenue 1 (Opp Parc Oasis) Short Trip

Bus Models:

SBS Transit operates a fleet of the following bus models under the Bukit Merah Bus Package (PT203):

Under the Bukit Merah Bus Package, SBS Transit operates the services using buses other bus depots apart from Ulu Pandan Bus Depot.

Buses from Ulu Pandan Bus Depot which are mainly deployed on other services which are not from the Bukit Merah Bus Package may also be deployed on Bukit Merah Bus Package services.

Ulu Pandan Bus Depot for all bus services under the Bukit Merah Bus Package

Ang Mo Kio Bus Depot for some Service 57, 131 & 145 buses

Bedok North Bus Depot for some Service 5 & 16 buses

Soon Lee Bus Park for some Service 198 buses

Transition Dates:

With SBS Transit already operating all the Bukit Merah Bus Package services under a Negotiated Contract till Nov 2018, all bus services transitioned to the Tendered Package contract with no change in operator on 18 November 2018.

Tranche Implementation Date Bus Services No. of Routes
1 18 November 2018 5, 16, 57, 93, 120, 121, 122, 123/123M, 131/131M, 145, 160, 170/170A/170X, 195, 198, 272, 273, 400 & 402 18

Scope of Operations:

As part of the tender, the awarded operator would be required to fulfil responsibilities as such:

  1. Operate bus services under the bus package in accordance with specified EWT performance standards
  2. Operate and maintain the buses and their onboard equipment provided by LTA
  3. Operate and maintain the allocated Anchor Bus Interchanges & Bus Depot, including all equipment and systems provided therein
  4. Charge and collect the fares approved by the Public Transport Council, on behalf of the Government
  5. Provide bus service information at all bus stops and bus interchanges served by the bus services under the package
  6. Provide customer management services, such as lost and found service, and a hotline for commuter feedback and enquiries.


Bukit Merah Bus Package – First Tendered Package Term (PT203) Timeline
  • 2016 (11 Aug): Bukit Merah Bus Package mentioned as one of 11 Negotiated Contract (NC) Packages operated by SBS Transit.
  • 2017 (28 Apr): Bukit Merah Bus Package open for Tender. Closes on 28 Aug 2017, 12:00PM
  • 2017 (28 Aug): Tender closed with 6 bids received
  • 2018 (23 Feb): Tender awarded to SBS Transit Ltd (Alternative Bid)
  • 2018 (18 Nov): Commencement of Bukit Merah Bus Package (Tendered Contract)
  • 2019 (16 Jun): Bus Service 402 removed from the bus package following its withdrawal
  • 2020 (09 Mar): Supplementary Bus Service 16M added to the bus package
  • 2020 (18 Mar): Bus Service 170X temporarily suspended due to Malaysia Movement Control Order
  • 2020 (26 Jul): Supplementary Bus Service 160M added to the bus package
  • 2021 (19 May) – 2022 (31 Mar): Bus Service 170A suspended
  • 2022 (01 Apr): Bus Service 170A resumed and converted to a bi-directional service; Service 170 temporarily suspended
  • 2022 (01 May): Resumption of Bus Services 170 & 170X; Service 170A withdrawn
  • 2022 (12 Dec): Bus Service 131M withdrawn

External Links & References:

Back to Bus Contracting Model

Page 2 – Bukit Merah Bus Package Negotiated Contract (PT205)