Express Bus Services

For specific types of express services, check out Fast-Forward and City Direct.

Express Bus Services are a group of loosely-defined bus services that incorporate express sectors in their routes. Although some trunk routes also contain express sectors, express bus services fall under a different category, charging Express fares instead.

Three main types of Express services exist. Full Day express services offer connections from housing estates to the City, or between housing estates. Limited-stop express services closely mirror their parent route but call at fewer bus stops along the way. SBS Transit brands their limited-stop express routes as Fast-Forward routes. Finally, CBD express services are the most numerous, connecting housing estates to the Central Business District (CBD) and operating only during the peak hours.

Express services reduce travel time by travelling via the expressways or skipping bus stops along selected stretches of road. They charge higher fares due to the decreased catchment area and hence reduced total passenger loading compared to a non-express route. However, passengers are often willing to pay the higher fare for added convenience and reduced travel time.

Previously, Express routes were limited to the 50_ and 51_ numbering series, but newer Express routes no longer follow this convention.

A:  Full Day Express Services
Express 502 Soon Lee Depot ↺ Orchard/Suntec/Bayfront/Shenton Way
Express 506 Jurong East Interchange ↔ Upper East Coast Terminal
Express 518 Pasir Ris Interchange ↺ Novena/Orchard/Suntec/Bayfront
Express 851e Yishun Temporary Interchange ↔ New Bridge Road
B:  CBD Express Services

Connects housing estates to the Central Business District (CBD) and operating only during the peak hours. City Direct services also fall under this category.

Express 502A AM Peak Soon Lee Depot → Central Boulevard (Downtown Stn)
Express 518A AM Peak Pasir Ris Int → Bayfront Avenue (Opp Marina Bay Sands MICE)
Express 513 AM/PM Peak Tampines Avenue 5 ⇆ Shenton Way/Anson Rd
Express 850E AM/PM Peak Yishun Street 41 / Yishun Ring Road ⇆ Shenton Way/Anson Rd
Express 868 AM Peak Bukit Batok West Avenue 5 → Temasek Ave
Express 951E AM/PM Peak Woodlands Street 82 ⇆ Shenton Way/Anson Rd
Express 971E AM/PM Peak Bukit Panjang ⇆ Shenton Way/Anson Rd
Express 982E AM/PM Peak Choa Chu Kang Avenue 5 ⇆ Shenton Way/Anson Rd
C:  Limited-stop express services

Closely mirrors their parent route and call at fewer bus stops along the way. SBS Transit brands their limited-stop express routes as Fast-Forward routes.

Express 12e Daily Pasir Ris Int ↔ New Bridge Road Ter
Express 97e AM/PM Peak Jurong East Int ⇆ Marina Centre Ter
Express 188E AM Peak Choa Chu Kang Int → HarbourFront Int
Express 188R Weekends & PHs Choa Chu Kang Int ↔ Resorts World Sentosa
Express 851e  Daily Yishun Int ↔  Outram Park MRT
Express 854E AM Peak Yishun Int → Bedok Int
Express 963E AM/PM Peak Woodlands IntHarbourFront Int
Express 963R Weekends & PHs Woodlands Int ↔ Resorts World Sentosa

SBS Transit’s Fast-Forward routes:

Fast-Forward 10e AM/PM Peak Bedok Road  ⇆  Shenton Way / Anson Road
Fast-Forward 14e AM/PM Peak Bedok North Avenue 3  ⇆  Orchard Road
Fast-Forward 30e AM/PM Peak Bedok Interchange  ⇆  Pasir Panjang Road (Heng Mui Keng Terr)
Fast-Forward 74e AM/PM Peak Hougang Central Interchange  ⇆  Buona Vista Terminal
Fast-Forward 89e AM/PM Peak Hougang Central Interchange  ⇆  Changi Airfreight Terminal
Fast-Forward 147e Daily Clarke Quay ↔ Clementi Interchange
Fast-Forward 151e AM/PM Peak Hougang Central Interchange  ⇆  Kent Ridge Terminal
Fast-Forward 174e AM/PM Peak Boon Lay Interchange  ⇆  New Bridge Road Terminal
Fast-Forward 196e AM/PM Peak Marine Parade Road  ⇆  Shenton Way / Anson Road

Services 188R and 963R are also classified as Resorts World Sentosa services. 


Fares for Express services follow the current distance-based fare scheme (DBF) for Express routes.

Operating Hours:

Only Express Services 12e, 147e, 502, 506, 518 & 851e operate daily. The remaining Express services operate only during peak hours on Weekdays.


The point-to-point nature of express routes provide convenience and encourage commuters to rely on them rather than taking a train, reducing commuters’ reliance on the rail network. For bus operators, the decreased run-time of Express routes translates to fewer buses being deployed compared to an ordinary route over the same distance. By carrying passengers over longer distances at a time, this reduces the strain of boarding and alighting activities at en route stops, which take up a lot of time especially during peak hours.


Since there are no official guidelines for a service to be classified as an “Express” service, the definition is sometimes misused by bus companies. Similar to some Fast-Forward routes, certain Express services such as 854E duplicate their parent routes to a large extent but charge higher fares under the Express designation. Sometimes, commuters are forced to take Express services within their non-Express sectors as existing bus routes do not provide direct connections to their destination. For example, Express 506 offers the fastest route between Bedok Reservoir and Upper East Coast without transfers, but alternative routes would require multiple transfers between other bus services.

The “definition” of Express?

Among private transport operators, a service is deemed “Express” when it charges Express fares based on the distance-based Express fare structure. This definition does not extend to trunk routes which incorporate long express sectors along expressways (and occasionally cover longer express sectors than Express services). Many services plying the Tampines Expressway and Bukit Timah Expressway / Pan-Island Expressway corridors are trunk routes rather than designated Express routes.

A Brief History:

Many express services existed in the 1990s that fell under the 5xx numbering series. As the earliest generation of express services, they complimented the MRT network by providing journeys with comparable/faster journey time by using expressways, many of which serve between the City and housing districts. Here is a list:

List of Former Express services (Click to expand)
Bus Services Description
Express 501 Introduced in 1997 as a peak hour unidirectional service between Hougang Central and Penang Road (AM) / Anson Rd (PM), later extended to Sengkang Int. Withdrawn in 2003 under NEL Rationalization – Phase 2.
Express 502 Introduced in 1997 between Hougang Central and Jurong East, later extended to Sengkang Int. Shortened to loop at Marina Center from Boon Lay under NEL Rationalization – Phase 2, and extended to serve the Bayfront area in 2010.
Express 503 Introduced in 1997 as a peak hour unidirectional service between Tampines and Temasek Ave (AM) / Anson Rd (PM). Amended and renumbered as 505.
Express 505 Introduced in 1999, renumbered from 503. Loop service between Pasir Ris / Tampines and Bukit Merah / Telok Blangah, amended and renumbered 518.
Express 506 Introduced in 1998 between Jurong East and Bedok. Extended to Changi Airport in 2000 and shortened back to Bedok in 2002. Extended to Upper East Coast in 2006.
Express 507 Introduced in 1998 as a peak hour unidirectional service between Boon Lay and Shenton Way (AM) / Anson Rd (PM). Withdrawn in 2004.
Express 508 Peak hour unidirectional service between Sengkang and Penang Rd (AM) / Outram Rd (PM). Shortened to Hougang Central in 2000 with the extension of Express 501 and re-numbered Express 511.
Express 511 Peak hour unidirectional service between Hougang Central and Penang Rd (AM) / Outram Rd (PM), re-numbered from Express 508. Withdrawn in 2003 under NEL Rationalization – Phase 2.
Express 512 Introduced when 502 was extended in 2000. Peak hour unidirectional service between Hougang Central and Outram Rd (AM) / Moulmein Road (PM). Withdrawn in 2003 under NEL Rationalization – Phase 2.
Express 518 Introduced after the re-numbering of Express 505, loop service between Pasir Ris and Orchard / Marina Center. Extended to serve more of Pasir Ris in 2005 and extended to serve the Bayfront area in 2010.
Express 520 Peak hour unidirectional service between Yishun and Outram Rd (AM) / New Bridge Rd Ter (PM). Withdrawn in 2003
Express 521 Introduced in 1999 between Bukit Panjang and World Trade Center (now HarbourFront). Extended to Woodlands in 2002 and converted to trunk Service 963.

Only Express services 502, 506 and 518 survive until today. Many were withdrawn as part of MRT Rationalization exercises (due to MRT duplication) or merged with existing routes by the early 2000s.

Express routes would re-surface years later when SBS Transit and SMRT Buses introduced express parallel services which duplicated existing trunk bus routes. These express services would operate during the peak hours, calling at stops of higher demand and skipping sections of route for faster point-to-point travel. While SBS Transit promoted them as Fast-Forward routes, SMRT referred to them as ordinary Express services, such as 188E, 854E and 963E.

Finally, the newer generation of Express routes are newly designed routes intended to connect housing estates to the Central Business District (CBD), operating during the peak hour, such as 868, 971E and several more under the BSEP scheme such as 513, 850E, 951E and 982E. City Direct routes are an extension of this concept, contracting such express routes to private bus operators.

External Links & References:

Back to Bus Service Classifications
Back to Bus Services

Leave a Reply

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