Double-Deck Bus Testing at Changi Airport

A Double-Decker Bus was spotted on test at Changi Airport on Wednesday morning, 26 June 2019.

A SMRT Volvo B9TL bus, SG5517G, was photographed at the Departure Hall of Changi Airport Terminal 3. It is said that the trial was conducted together with the Land Transport Authority and Changi Airport Group. (Photo: Behold Our Outstanding Buses Singapore)

A unique sight to behold this morning, SG 5517G was spotted at Singapore Changi Airport as SMRT Buses conducted double…

Posted by Behold Our Outstanding Buses Singapore on Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Double-decker buses should be deployed on airport services to cater to the high loading levels. However, airport bus services only can use single-deck and articulated (bendy) buses due to height limits at the basement of Changi Airport PTB 1, 2 and 3.

Increased ridership has caused overcrowding problems on these bus services, notably SMRT Bus Service 858 and SBS Transit Bus Service 53. SMRT Buses deployed MAN A24 bendy buses since late-2015 to cope with high loading levels. Following the opening of JEWEL Changi Airport, more bendy buses were deployed, and buses operated additional trips from Changi Airport in the evening.

Road infrastructure has to be made double-decker friendly first before such buses can be deployed on airport services. While the departure halls of Terminal 1 and 3 are able to cater to double-deckers, there is a 4.0m height limit on the slip road entering Terminal 2 Departure Hall. In addition, buses will have to ply a circuitous route involving U-Turns to get in between departure halls.

Hopefully, double-deckers can be deployed on airport services in the near future for a more comfortable journey!

Contingency Plan

Currently, public buses serving Changi Airport may be diverted to call at the departure halls of Terminals 1, 2 & 3 if the basement is closed due to unforeseen circumstances (e.g. accident or vehicle breakdown).

Terminal 3 Departure Hall

During the Early Closure, Late Opening & Sunday Closures on the East-West Line from January 2018 to April 2018, Shuttle 8 and Express 12  buses used Terminal 3 Departure Hall Gate 8 as a Pick-Up and Drop-Off Point.

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30 thoughts on “Double-Deck Bus Testing at Changi Airport

  • 23 July 2019 at 12:59 PM

    I believe that it is the lack of viable rail connections from the airport to the north/north-east of Singapore that contributes to this situation. For example, both 24 and 36 do not face the problem of overcrowding because they mainly serve as an auxiliary route to the East-West Line. 24 mirrors the line up to Paya Lebar, and 36 serves as an alternate route to the city while also serving Marine Parade.

    The other buses, 27, 34, 53, 110, and 858 are among the primary routes that link commuters between the North, North-east, and East of Singapore along the TPE axis. Other than 110, all of these buses have a short trip services which signal the high demand on parts of the route that do not involve the airport. (110 itself seems like a hive off from 27, and an admittance that there is high demand for a direct service between the north-east and the airport.)

    I think the main problem of these over-crowded buses is that these buses serve cover too many catchment areas in the north and north-eastern areas before heading to the airport. For example, the services in question 53 and 858 are guilty of this. 53 covers Bishan, Serangoon, Hougang South, and Pasir Ris before heading to the airport, and 858 covers Woodlands, Sembawang, AND Yishun before heading to the airport. I wonder if it would be more efficient running separate services to rather than having a catch all approach to these services ie. for 858, have one to Sembawang/Yishun and another to Woodlands/Causeway, and for 53, perhaps rationalising part of the route with 24, and having a service that serves Pasir Ris and the airport, and Serangoon/Hougang and the airport.

    27 and 34 cover parts of large parts of Tampines before heading to the north-east, but perhaps these services are best described as the direct links between the the north-east and Tampines, rather than their connection to the airport. (The other buses between the northeast and the east are just too circuitous eg. 3, 72, 81) That said, I do believe that many residents of Tampines and Pasir Ris do frequent the airport for various reasons, so there is still a good demand for these services.

    There is a limit to how frequent the buses can run, and structural impediments to what kinds of buses can run to the airport. I think there is a need for a radical rethink of our bus services to better utilise our resources.

    • 27 July 2019 at 8:46 AM

      I have suggested splitting Service 858 into 2.

      Current Service 858 will be amended to ply Woodlands Ave 2 and SLE (similar to Services 161 and 168), skipping Sembawang and Yishun entirely. This relieves demand off from Service 168. Service 858 will be operated with a full fleet of single decker buses.

      Existing Service 883 will be extended from its current route and loop and Changi Airport via existing Service 858 route (Yishun Ave 2, SLE, Jln Kayu and TPE). Service 883 will be operated by a mix of single decker and articulated buses.

      Missing Service 858 links between Woodlands and Yishun will be served by a new Service 928, operating between Woodlands and Singapore Zoo (Loop) via Service 858 deleted sectors, Khatib MRT Station and Mandai Rd. This withdraws the existing Mandai-Khatib shuttle. Service 928 will be operated with a full fleet of single decker buses.

      Affected Service 858 passengers may use new Service 928 or existing Service 969 to transfer to the extended Service 883.

      Existing Short-Trip Service 858A will be withdrawn as there will be late night demand from passengers from Night Safari to Khatib MRT Station, hence the need for full trips of Service 928.

      Existing Short-Trip Service 858B will be renumbered as Short-Trip Service 883A in tandem with the withdrawal of existing Short-Trip Service 883A with the opening of Canberra MRT Station.

  • 30 June 2019 at 3:17 AM

    1:Temporary close all basement to construct deeper road to allow DDs to go in.
    2:Seletar to transfer all A24s to service 27 or introduce 27M that starts from Tampines Concourse to Airport during peak periods.
    3:Introduce new Pasir Ris-Airport that goes to all terminals to relieve 53 loadings.

    • 23 July 2019 at 6:58 PM

      I don’t think there will be enough land for a Airport in Pasir Ris,if you do attempt,angry faces will look at you(what I mean is you need to destroy homes to build a Airport )

      • 8 August 2019 at 12:13 PM

        My suggestion
        858 shortened to Yishun Int and amended to serve Terminal 4, as well as T1/2/3 departure hall

        969 amended to cover lost sector of 858. 858A integrated into 969A (aka change in operation hours, morning peak hours as well as after 969 last bus)

    • 20 August 2019 at 9:04 PM

      Double deckers going to Changi Airport routes will 100% Cure the world. Everything will be so much smoother. No more waiting for few buses and wasting our time. Implementing double decker buses will allow all commuters a more heavenly time to reach their destinations faster

  • 29 June 2019 at 11:55 AM

    Forget it. It looks like a slipshod decision to introduce double-deckers. No need to occupy one departure gate for each terminal; it just squeezes things further.

  • 28 June 2019 at 10:06 PM

    Service 53 experience overcrowding? Huh????? In my opinion, this is the sequence for most overcrowded – Least concern:
    858 – 27 – 34 – 110 – 53 – 36 – 24

    Reason being is because for 53, theres overcrowding because of the long headways, with buses arriving in 12 – 20 minutes during weekends and peak hour runtime varies from 6 – 16 minutes. If you take the runtime out of the equation, 53 route that experience overcrowding is only between the pasir ris MRT – Changi Airport sector. The remaining sectors are pretty low demand. As such, this issue could be solved either by having 53M operating between pasir ris MRT – CA instead of the useless hougang route(And its weird for a sub service to operate out of a different depot) OR do downroutes from the airport. DD not needed.

    27 is the real problem. For a 44km route, 35 buses with additional deployed during peak hours, runtime of 2-5 minutes still experience standing available is a problem to me. With more buses in such distance, this just mean 1 thing. It causes the buses to move slowly because the front bus is still ahead thanks to the short runtime.

    While having short runtime is good, however, its 1 of the bus service HGDEP drivers dread during peak hours. Buses arriving from the airport can be late, but if a bus were to downroute from UOB, his schedule will automatically be early for that same reason. Every 10 service 27 i take, 8 will be driving very slowly 70% of the time.

    SBST and LTA should had used their brain. By deploying DDs to 27 which could potentially save the dreads of commuters boarding from tampines to sengkang/hougang of standing all the way there,

    – Downroute trips can now be scrapped. This means precious oil is being saved on buses travelling empty to tampines just for a downroute trip.
    – 35 buses total can now be reduced to 18 for a full DD trip, or 24 for a mix SD and DD fleet. With overall fleet reduced, runtime will be spreaded out to 7-10 minutes headway, as a result giving BCs a chance to be on time and drive as per normal instead of slowly.

    If only the authorities listen…

    • 29 June 2019 at 10:23 AM

      53M is NOT USELESS. If you do not know, 53M helps relieve demand between Hougang Ave 1 and Serangoon Ctrl, which has high demand from residents throughout the day. Only problem 53 has is poor frequencies, causing queues at the Airport to stretch as long as queues for 858. 53’s problem will only be solved when 53 is amended to Bidadari Int since the Bishan – Serangoon sector is weak, and can be served by amending Service 58.

      27 i understand that there are too many buses, i feel that that can be solved if there are dedicated buses serving 27A daily (extended to serve daily), like the case of 7 and 170. 27A can be extended to start from Hougang.

    • 4 July 2019 at 4:37 PM

      24 and 53 are higher priority as 27 and 34. They face the same problems as 27, but with even fewer buses.

      18 buses is far too little for 27. I would say 25 buses, all DD. Even 24 and 53 should have a full DD upgrade with their current fleet, without any fleet reductions. Only 27 should get fleet reduction.

      36 and 110 are duplicated by other services, so they do not deserve such a high ranking (but should still get some DDs).

  • 28 June 2019 at 1:28 PM

    To use the roads leading to and connecting from the departure halls is feasible. But, as this article mentions, the route between the terminals would be very winding. Infrastructure works in the form of constructing bridges between the departure halls to shorten the traveling distance may be required.


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