New Onboard Bus Equipment (NOBE)

The Bus Ticketing System currently used on Singapore public buses is officially known as the New On-board Bus Equipment, or simply NOBE. In use since 2014, the system is provided by local Infocomm systems supplier Kenetics Innovations Pte. Ltd.

NOBE comprises three main subsystems: the Bus Fare Console, the Bus Card Validator, and the Bus Locator System. The positioning systems are integrated with distance-based fare structures to ensure accurate fare collection based on the distance travelled (i.e. between bus stops tapped in and tapped out), requiring minimal intervention from the Bus Captain. Transaction data is also wirelessly uploaded to a central server.

The NOBE system has been in operation since 2014. Apart from managing fare collection through cash or contactless cards, NOBE data is used to provide bus arrival times and approximate passenger loading onboard each bus. This information is accessible to the public through various applications, such as MyTransport.SG mobile app, and also made available to third-party applications via LTA Datamall.

The NOBE system replaces the Enhanced Integrated Fare System (EIFS) that was launched in April 2002 in tandem with the EZ-Link card. The LTA-owned EIFS system was Singapore’s contactless smart card system that replaced the prior use of magnetic farecards and passenger-selected fares.

Installation of the NOBE system across a small number of buses took place in mid-2011 in a proof-of-concept phase. Fleet-wide installation across all public buses took place between August 2012 and January 2014. According to the LTA, the replacement involved all 4,500 public buses in Singapore at a cost of around $32 million.

Deployment timeline

According to Kenetics Innovations’ website, in the 2007 – 2009 period, the company first signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to explore the development of Transit Reader for Automated Fare Collection (AFC). It was subsequently awarded a contract for the New On-board Bus Equipment (NOBE) in 2009, with the system fully deployed on public buses by January 2014.

Between 2015 and 2021 (date uncertain), Kenetics clinched a manufacturing contract to supply LTA with 600 sets of NOBE for new buses. In 2022, it inked a new maintenance contract from MSI Global to maintain the NOBE system, with the option to extend until end-2025.

Bus Integration

Every bus is equipped with two card readers at each door to facilitate quicker boarding/alighting and as a redundancy in case one reader fails. This also applies to newer 3-door bus models procured by LTA, where two readers are installed at the rear door.

Bus Captains handle fare collection using the Bus Fare Console, which typically requires minimal input from the driver during revenue service as the system automatically updates bus stops through the Bus Locator System (BLS). However, if the BLS is not functioning, the Bus Captain can manually update the bus stops as needed, which in turn updates the Bus Card Validators accordingly.

Cash payments are facilitated through the Bus Fare Console, where the Bus Captain can find buttons on the left and right of the screen for Adult fares and buttons on the bottom row for child/senior citizen concessionary fares. Additionally, the Bus Captain can consult the BLS to assist commuters in determining the appropriate cash fare based on their intended destination.

New Equipment Tender

In July 2023, the Land Transport Authority called a number of tenders to procure new fare collection & fleet management equipment for public buses.

These include:

  • Procurement of Bus Fleet Management System (Contract Ref. PT811)
  • Procurement of Bus Fare Collection Equipment (Contract Ref. RS802)
  • Procurement of Bus Ticketing Depot System (Contract Ref. RS803)
  • Supply, Installation and Implementation of Bus Transmitter System (Contract Ref. PT812)
  • Supply and Installation of Bus Central Junction Box (Contract Ref. PT813)

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