Bukit Merah Bus Package

Bus Contracting Model (BCM) Route Package #4:
“Bukit Merah Bus Package” (17 bus routes)

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 comprises 17 existing bus services mainly originating from Bukit Merah, HarbourFront, Kampong Bahru, Queen Street and Shenton Way Bus Interchanges/Terminals, with a minority number of services originating at Buona Vista and Marina Centre Bus Terminals. The route package is one of fourteen bus packages to be released by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) as part of the transition to the Bus Contracting Model (BCM), and crucially covers SBS Transit’s major cross-border operations (Service 160, 170 and 170X).

Service 57 is one of 18 bus services under the Bukit Merah Bus Package
Service 57 is one of 18 bus services under the Bukit Merah Bus Package

As announced in February 2018, SBS Transit Ltd is the successful tenderer of the Bukit Merah Bus Package, who will receive an estimated total fee of $482 million over five years. The 18 bus routes is based out of the newly-built new Ulu Pandan Bus Depot, located at Business Park Drive, which was completed in Q1 2018 and is able to accommodate 470 buses.

The package will consist of about 340 buses when implemented on 18 November 2018, and will grow to about 390 buses in tandem with new developments and projected growth in ridership.

Contract Details:

Name PT203: Bus Contracting – Bukit Merah Bus Package
Awarded SBS Transit Ltd
Duration Five years, with two-year extension granted based on good performance
Key Dates Published – 28 Apr 2017
Closed – 28 Aug 2017
Awarded – 23 Feb 2018
Services 5, 16/16M, 57, 93, 120, 121, 122, 123/123M, 131/131M, 145, 160/160M, 170/170A/170X, 195, 198, 272, 273 & 400
Bus Depot Ulu Pandan Bus Depot
Anchor Interchanges / Terminals Bukit Merah, HarbourFront, Kampong Bahru, Queen StreetShenton WayMarina Centre

Bidding Procedure

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 Awarded:

On Friday, 23 February 2018, LTA announced SBS Transit Ltd as the winner of the Bukit Merah Bus Package. The evaluation was conducted through a two-envelope process which included quality and price factors, with greater weightage given to the quality proposals submitted by tenderers. As per the LTA press release, SBST was awarded the contract because its proposal demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of the operational considerations, and strong competence in bus service scheduling that would enable the optimal deployment of buses and resources.

In addition, SBST’s proposal showcased extensive experience in bus operations, while offering good value for money. It also had comprehensive contingency plans for cross-border services, and committed a significant number of experienced technicians to ensure high maintenance and reliability standards. SBST also 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. It also presented a career development programme to up-skill its staff, with more opportunities for career progression, the authority said.

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 145 is partially garaged at Braddell Bus Park.

In addition, several bus services from other Bus Packages operated by SBS Transit 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 consists of 17 existing bus services, all of which are currently operated by SBS Transit. As a result, there was no operator change to all services. 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
131M Bukit Merah ↺ Bukit Purmei Avenue Supplementary
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
170A Queen Street → Woodlands Centre Road (W’Lands Train Checkpt) Short Trip
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:

Under the Bukit Merah Bus Package, SBS Transit operates the following bus models:

Scope of Tender:

As part of the tender, the new Operator will be required to fulfil responsibilities as such:

  1. Operate the seventeen (17) bus services in the areas in accordance with specified EWT performance standards
  2. Operate and maintain the buses and their onboard equipment provided by LTA
  3. Operate and maintain Bukit Merah and HarbourFront Bus Interchanges, Kampong Bahru, Queen Street, Shenton Way and Marina Centre Bus Terminals, and the new Ulu Pandan 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 18 bus services
  6. Provide customer management services, such as lost and found service, and a hotline for commuter feedback and enquiries.

All bus services will have scheduled headways of no more than 15 minutes for both directions during the morning and evening peak periods, with at least half of them having even shorter scheduled headways of no more than 10 minutes. Of these, the feeder services will run at even shorter intervals of 6-8 minutes. An estimated 45% of bus services will come at shorter intervals during peak periods when compared to the expanded BSEP.

More guidelines can be found in the main Bus Contracting Model (BCM) article.

Bus Interchanges & Terminals under the package:

Bus Depot under the package:

Route Package 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): Start of Bukit Merah Bus Package (Tendered Contract)
  • 2019 (16 Jun): Removal of Service 402 from Bukit Merah Bus Package
  • 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

External Links & References:

Back to Bus Contracting Model