Express Bus Services

Express Bus Services are bus services that contain express sectors, by skipping bus stops or travelling by expressways, saving commuting time as compared to regular trunk services. Such bus services charge Express fares.

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. 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.

On 12 August 2018, as part of a renaming exercise to streamline Express routes, SBS Transit’s Fast-Forward Routes were rebranded as Express Routes.

SBS Transit Poster for Fast Forward renaming to Express
SBS Transit Poster for Fast Forward renaming to Express

List of Express Services
Service Operating Times Route
Express 10e Weekday AM / PM Peak Bedok Road  ⇆  Shenton Way / Anson Rd
Express 12e Daily Pasir Ris Int ↔ Kampong Bahru Ter
Express 14e Weekday AM / PM Peak Bedok North Ave 3  ⇆  Orchard Rd
Express 30e Weekday AM / PM Peak Bedok Int ⇆ Pasir Panjang Rd
Express 74e Weekday AM / PM Peak Hougang Central Int ⇆  Buona Vista Ter
Express 89e Weekday AM / PM Peak Hougang Central Int ⇆  Changi Airfreight Terminal
Express 97e Weekday AM / PM Peak Jurong East Temp Int ⇆ Marina Centre Ter
Express 147e Daily Clarke Quay ↔ Clementi Int
Express 151e Weekday AM / PM Peak Hougang Central Int  ⇆  Kent Ridge Ter
Express 167e Daily Sembawang Int ↔ Shenton Way / Anson Rd
Express 174e Weekday AM / PM Peak Boon Lay Int  ⇆  Kampong Bahru Ter
Express 188e Weekday AM Peak Choa Chu Kang Int → HarbourFront Int
Express 188R Weekends & Public Holidays Choa Chu Kang Int ↔ Resorts World Sentosa
Express 196e Weekday AM / PM Peak Marine Parade Road  ⇆  Shenton Way / Anson Rd
Express 502 Daily Soon Lee Depot ↺ Central Blvd
Express 502A Weekday AM Peak Soon Lee Depot → Central Blvd
Express 506 Daily Jurong East Temp Int ↔ Upper East Coast Ter
Express 513 Weekday AM / PM Peak Tampines Ave 5 ⇆ Shenton Way / Anson Rd
Express 518 Daily Pasir Ris Int ↺ Bayfront Ave
Express 518A Weekday AM Peak Pasir Ris Int → Bayfront Ave
Express 850E Weekday AM / PM Peak Yishun St 41 / Yishun Ring Rd ⇆ Shenton Way / Anson Rd
Express 851e Daily Yishun Temp Int ⇆ New Bridge Rd / Eu Tong Sen St
Express 854e Weekday AM Peak Yishun Temp Int → Bedok Int
Express 868E Weekday AM Peak Bukit Batok West Avenue 5 → Temasek Ave
Express 951E Weekday AM / PM Peak Woodlands Street 82 ⇆ Shenton Way / Anson Rd
Express 960e Daily Woodlands Temp Int ↔ Marina Centre Ter
Express 963e Weekday AM / PM Peak Woodlands Temp Int ⇆ HarbourFront Int
Express 963R Weekends & Public Holidays Woodlands Temp Int ↔ Resorts World Sentosa
Express 971E Weekday AM / PM Peak Bukit Panjang Ring Rd ⇆ Cecil St / Anson Rd
Express 982E Weekday AM / PM Peak Choa Chu Kang Avenue 5 ⇆ Marina Blvd / Central Blvd

Note:

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


Fares:

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

Pros:

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.

Cons:

While “Express” services incorporate express or limited-stop sectors, they may not offer significantly faster journey times, with Express services such as 854E duplicating 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 (prior to the launch of Bus Service 46), 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.

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.

Finally, the latest generation of Express routes are limited-stop express bus services to their parent bus service, such as 147e, 12e and 851e which operate daily.


External Links & References:

Back to Bus Service Classifications
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One thought on “Express Bus Services

  • 2 August 2018 at 11:12 PM
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    The first batch of Express routes came about when ERP was introduced,IIRC.

    Hope to see a limited stops version of 80 in future.

    Reply

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