Since 1 April 2016, buses with a new bus announcement system and Driver Display Unit (DDU) were seen on service. Currently on trial by LTA, these features will be rolled out to all buses progressively.
9 April 2014: LTA awards contract to ST Electronics and Trapeze Group to supply, install and commission an Intelligent Bus Management System
January 2015: Newly registered SBS Transit buses are put on service without the original Driver Display Unit.
December 2015: New Driver Display Units first spotted on several new SMRT Buses.
According to LTA’s press release dated 9 April 2014, ST Electronics (Info-Comm Systems) Pte Ltd (STE) / Trapeze Switzerland GMBH Consortium were awarded a contract to supply, install and commission an Intelligent Bus Management System with a total value of about $68 million.
Currently, both SBS Transit and SMRT use separate bus fleet management systems to manage their daily bus operations and provide bus arrival information to commuters.
This new system will provide a unified solution for operations control, fleet management, passenger information and business management for LTA and the two public transport operators. The newest on-board computers and touch terminals will be installed on all buses to aid bus drivers with traffic information and advisories on adherence to route schedules within the transport network. The system will be implemented progressively from end 2015. Ultimately, this would mean better operated bus services for the benefit of commuters, who should experience more consistent performance of bus services.
Trapeze Switzerland GMBH Consortium currently has technological solutions implemented in Transport for London (TfL) vehicles.
Buses in SBS Transit’s fleet have always been fitted with a Integrated Driver Fare Console and a Driver Display Unit. However, since January 2015, newly registered buses do not have DDUs installed, indicating that LTA might be installing new DDUs with added functionality.
A batch of buses registered on 2 November 2015, SBS3467T-SBS3473A and SBS6584T-SBS6599B, were not seen on the roads for a long period of time. These buses were the first batch of buses to trial the new DDU and announcement system. Several SMRT Buses were also spotted with the new DDUs on the roads in December 2015.
On 1st April 2016, the above-mentioned batch of buses entered revenue service, and were deployed on bus services 96, 282, 284 and 285 from Clementi Bus Interchange. On 6th April, bus services 183, 333 and 334, originating from Jurong East Bus Interchange, received buses equipped with the new DDU and announcement system as well. On 9th April, bus services 66 and 97 also received buses with the new equipment.
New Driver Display Units
Prior to the takeover of services by Tower Transit under the Government Contracting Model in May 2016, new Driver Display Units (DDUs) have been seen in some buses of the tendered bus services. These DDUs can be identified by its unique and sleek black design and interface as compared to the older counterparts. These DDUs are supplied by ST Electronics and Trapeze Group, Switzerland.
The DDUs will be useful for tasks such as communications with the bus service controllers in the operator’s Operations Control Centre to handle incidents such as emergency situations and bus bunching prevention. This can be done due to the messaging feature for the bus captain and tracking the location of the bus.
The DDUs also assists bus drivers in following schedule, by listing the scheduled timing of upcoming 2 bus stops. as well as the timing to reach the terminating stop. By ensuring schedule adherence, buses on the same route are less likely to bunch-up, resulting in better-spaced intervals and more reliable bus services.
With an option to switch between English and Chinese language displays, the new DDU will also ensure that bus drivers from different language backgrounds can use the equipment at ease.
Audio Announcements On Buses
Commuters in the west may have noticed subtle but notable audio announcement that announces the next bus stop the bus is travelling to. This audio announcements have been heard on some GCM buses in GCM services since 1 April 2016, on trial, as part of the improvements made to improve the service experiences of commuters under the Government Contracting Model.
At the moment, only Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses fitted with the new DDU feature the audio announcements as the buses are equipped with speakers. Volvo B9TL and MAN A22 buses currently do not feature the announcements.
Together with the installation of new Driver Display Units, audio announcements are heard on some of the buses. These announcements will help passengers to identify the next stop so that they could get off in time. As observed, these announcements are currently only played softly at speakers at the rear of the bus, and thus tend only noticed by commuters seated at the rear of the bus.
The announcement sounds are computer-generated, and tend to misread some bus stop names. For example, it spells out words and short-forms that are not recognized or programmed, “Next stop, B-L-K 376” instead of “Next stop, Block 376”. As the announcement system is currently on trial, these errors are expected to be fixed in the near future.
Previously, audio announcements in public transport of Singapore were only available on public trains. Commuters would have to figure their way around by means of smartphone apps, bus service guides, or by counting the number of bus stops that have passed since they board. The audio announcement system is a first for Singapore’s public buses, following the steps of public transport in other cities such as Hong Kong and London.
Newer buses of SMRT registered after 2008 are equipped with a announcement system. These buses are able to broadcast pre-programmed announcements, which can inform commuters of upcoming road diversions, request commuters to move to the rear, or provide a cheerful greeting. However, bus stop announcements are not available in SMRT Buses’ announcement system.
During the “Our Bus Journey” carnival, the two mock-up concept buses, MAN Lion’s City DD L and Alexander Dennis Enviro500, both featured bus stop announcement systems and information displays as well. They were designed under LTA’s tender requirements, to provide the public a glimpse of how the future of Singapore’s buses would looklike.
The audio announcements in the bus system of Singapore will be very useful for the visually-impaired. Commuters who are not familiar with the bus route, especially tourists, will also benefit from this audio announcement system. It is definitely a useful feature to be installed on Singapore’s buses, paving one step ahead for the bus industry’s future.
This article is written by SST Public Transport Enthusiasts, an independent Facebook page run by a group of public transport enthusiasts from School of Science and Technology, Singapore (SST).
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