In tacking the outbreak of COVID-19 in Singapore, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) had implemented various safe distancing measures in the public transport network since March 2020, such as queue markers at retail shops and General Ticketing Machines in bus interchanges and train stations.
With the nationwide ‘Circuit Breaker’ measures in place from 7 April 2020 to 1 June 2020 (subject to extension), the LTA implemented additional safe distancing measures in the public transport network.
The measures were announced to be extended for 4 weeks on 21 April 2020, with the end date extended from 4 May 2020 to 1 June 2020.
Safe Distancing Stickers
All trains and buses, as well as bus interchanges, bus stops & train stations, would be progressively marked with safe distancing stickers from 9 April 2020. These stickers demarcate which seats are to be left empty, as well as where to stand for adherence to the safe distancing measures on public transport.
Thermal scanners are also deployed at selected MRT stations to screen commuters before they enter the train station. Commuters with fever would be denied entry and advised to seek medical attention at the nearest clinic immediately. These scanners are deployed at Tiong Bahru and Serangoon MRT Stations and more will be added progressively.
Transport Ambassador Scheme
To support the elevated safe distancing measures, LTA Enforcement Officers and Transport Ambassadors would be progressively deployed in the public transport network, such as on board buses and trains, to support the implementation of safe distancing measures.
Limited Capacity on Buses [Cancelled]
On the evening of 9 April 2020, an SMRT Buses internal notice was circulated on WhatsApp and other social media platforms regarding the implementation of Safe Distancing on Buses by imposing a limit on the maximum number of commuters allowed to be on the bus. This would be implemented from 10 April 2020, according to the notice.
Go-Ahead Singapore also published a notice to their bus captains, with the same number of commuters limited from bus interchanges and terminals. However, the number of commuters allowed in total on board was 17 for Single Deck buses & 27 for Double Deck buses.
Liming the number of commuters allowed on board buses & trains was cited as an example by LTA in its press release on 9 April 2020 as one of the measures adopted as part of the elevated safe distancing measures.
On 10 April 2020, a notice believed to have been taken from a Passenger Service Counter at a bus interchange was also circulated on WhatsApp and other social media platforms regarding the cancellation of the Standard Operating Procedures on the limiting the number of commuters on board buses.
In response to queries from CNA regarding the notices on bus capacity put up, SMRT Buses Bus Operations Director Vincent Gay said that “One of my staff put it up prematurely for internal reference,” and that “The notice has since been removed.”
|Bus Type||Maximum Number of Passengers on Board|
|At Bus Interchange / Terminals
|At All Other Bus Stops|
|Single Deck (SD)||10||10 + 6 = 16 (SMRT Buses)
10 + 7 = 17 (Go-Ahead Singapore)
|Double Deck (DD)||16||16 + 9 = 25 (SMRT Buses)
16 + 11 = 27 (Go-Ahead Singapore)
|Bendy / Articulated (BD)||20||20 + 12 = 32 (SMRT Buses)
With the elevated safe distancing measures, bus capacity is cut by about 80% on average.
Using the capacity limits by SMRT Buses:
|Bus Type||Maximum Number of Passengers on Board||Change|
|During the Circuit Breaker Measures
from 10 Apr 2020
|Bus Licensed Capacity
|Single Deck (SD)||16||86 (MAN A22 Euro 6)||– 81%|
|Double Deck (DD)||25||139 (MAN A95 Euro 6)||– 82%|
|Bendy / Articulated (BD)||32||131 (MAN A24)||– 76%|
Mandatory Wearing of Masks on Public Transport
In a Facebook post by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on 11 April 2020, all commuters using public transport would be required to wear masks, with Transport Ambassadors would be on hand to remind commuters to do so. However, this policy was not formally communicated by the authorities via press release/official statements, and cannot be ascertained to be official policy.
The wearing of masks was later made mandatory for all individuals leaving their home, effective 14 April 2020.
Cover photo: Yutong E12 Interior