SCSM 2017 Traffic Standstill due to Incorrect Bus Diversion Plans

The Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) 2017 was held on the morning of Sunday, 03 December 2017. Featuring road closures for over 90% of the route aimed to ease congestion among runners, this year’s marathon route brings runners to experience a historical and cultural tour through various landmarks and places such as Little India, Chinatown, Marina Bay Sands and the Esplanade.

As a result of the extensive Road Closures, Bus Services 2, 7, 10, 12, 14, 16, 32, 33, 36, 48, 51, 54, 56, 57, 61, 63, 70M, 75, 77, 80, 97, 100, 106, 107M, 111, 124, 130, 131, 133, 143, 145, 147, 162M, 166, 167, 171, 174, 186, 195, 196, 197, 400, 401, 402, 502, 518, 700A, 851, 857, 960, 961, 970 & 980 were affected.

A map of the Full Marathon running route is shown below:

Road Closure Plans by SCSM
Extracted from the Singapore Marathon Website

Click on the images to view them in detail.

Road Closure Posters by Public Transport Operators
Extracted from various Public Transport Operators' Websites

Click on the images to view the image in detail.

Key Diversion Differences

Many roads were closed at 2am and planned for reopening later in the day. It was noted that bus diversion plans did not factor in two road closures when planning diversion routes:

  • Road Closure along Orchard Road till 0730hrs
  • Road Closure along Hill Street / Victoria Street till 0800hrs

Buses Stuck at Bras Basah

Under the SCSM diversion plan, bus services travelling through the City along various North-South corridors had to be diverted, such as Bayfront Avenue, Nicoll Highway/Shenton Way, North Bridge Road/South Bridge Road, and Victoria Street/Hill Street/Eu Tong Sen Street. A diversion routing would have to take a big round around the road closures, via either the MCE, CTE or Scotts Road/Paterson Road.

However, according to diversion plans issued to Bus Captains, buses were directed to ply along Victoria Street from 5.30am in the morning via Jalan Besar, Bencoolen Street and Bras Basah Road. Furthermore, from 6:15am onwards, buses were planned to travel along Victoria Street between Jalan Sultan and Bras Basah Road which was expected to open to traffic by then. In contrast, according to official SCSM Road Closure information, the entire Victoria Street was only to be opened at 8am.

With Bus Captains instructed to ply closed roads as per diversion plans, multiple buses remained stuck at key choke points such as Scotts Road / Orchard Road (Unable to continue down Orchard Road towards Dhoby Ghaut), Eu Tong Sen Street (Unable to go straight along Hill St towards Kallang) as well as Bras Basah Road (Unable to access Victoria Street).

Traffic Conductors also followed the erroneous bus diversion plans, under the impression that Victoria Street was open, sending southbound buses down Bencoolen Street from Jalan Besar instead of diverting them around the Marathon Route. Buses should have, in fact, been diverted via Rochor Canal Road, Bukit Timah Rd, Scotts Road, Paterson Road, Irwell Bank Road, River Valley Road and onto the contra-flow traffic at Eu Tong Sen Street. (or alternatively, via the CTE to Chinatown and Outram Park).

The resultant pile-up of buses stretched all the way from Bras Basah Road into Bencoolen Street, with about 60 buses from various bus services stuck. Most commuters affected by the standstill traffic alighted and continued their journey on foot or by MRT. Some buses were also taken off service while stuck.

Queen Street dead end

Several buses also ended up at stuck at a dead end along Queen Street for reasons unknown, but likely due to faulty route diversion guidance. From Middle Road, these buses turned right into Queen Street and ended up stuck just before the entrance of SMU Administration Building, as the road ahead was only for one-way traffic from Bras Basah Road. These buses were later guided out by staff members on the ground.

As a result of the early morning traffic standstill, bus services were largely unavailable for bus services affected by the route diversions, affecting commuters further down the route.

Early Reopening of Victoria Street

SCSM Event Staff, as well as auxiliary police officers, scrambled to open Victoria Street for contra-flow traffic in response to the gridlocked buses at Bras Basah.

Victoria Street was opened for contra-flow traffic only at about 6:50 am, more than an hour ahead of the original re-opening time planned by SCSM. By then, the first few buses in the standstill had already been stuck for more than an hour.

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References & External Links

One thought on “SCSM 2017 Traffic Standstill due to Incorrect Bus Diversion Plans

  • 9 December 2017 at 4:45 PM

    This is the result of a failure to keep a proper check of road closure plans. Likely a failure of communication between SCSM event organisers and various operators/traffic conductors.

    No wonder the frequency of Svc 2 was so bad that morning. (I had to detour using 3 other buses, costing me at least 1.5 hrs.)


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