Thomson-East Coast Line 3 Bus Service Changes

Train services on the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) Stage 3 between Caldecott and Gardens by the Bay started on 13 November 2022. After over a year of operations, several bus services running parallel to the TEL will be rationalised or shortened, with other bus services amended to cover lost sectors.

TEL3 route amendments in this article take effect from Sunday, 17 December 2023. This round of bus service changes follows a slew of bus service level reductions led by the LTA since 2019.

Bus Service 167, initially slated for withdrawal, will instead operate at 30-minute intervals after the LTA backtracked on its decision to withdraw the route ‘for now’.

Service Existing Destination Changes / New Destination from 17 Dec 2023
75 Gali Batu ↔ Marina Centre Gali Batu ↔ Bukit Merah
121 Kampong Bahru ↺ Telok Blangah Rise Shenton Way ↺ Telok Blangah Rise
Yio Chu Kang ↔ Shenton Way Yio Chu Kang ↺ Sin Ming Drive
Yio Chu Kang ↺ Temasek Avenue Withdrawn
167 Sembawang ↔ Bukit Merah Withdrawn
30 min frequency
Sembawang ↺ Yishun Sembawang ↺ Yishun via Canberra Link
980 Sembawang ↔ Lorong 1 Geylang Sembawang ↔ Lorong 1 Geylang
Service Enhancement – Extended Operating Hours & Increased Frequency

According to an LTA press release, ridership for some bus services plying along segments of TEL has seen an overall decrease of around 30 to 40 per cent. The bus service amendments were intended to reduce duplication of bus services with TEL and to reallocate resources to other parts of Singapore, such as emerging new towns and estates.

Bus Service 167 withdrawal cancelled

Main article: LTA backtracks on Bus Service 167 withdrawal | Land Transport Guru

TEL3 route amendments in this article were initially announced on 17 November 2023, with changes taking effect on 10 December 2023.

Following commuter feedback in response to the TEL3 bus amendments, the LTA announced on 28 November 2023 that it had reversed its decision to withdraw Bus Service 167 [Press release]. The route will be retained and operated at 30-minute intervals throughout the day. There were no changes to the planned amendments to other bus routes.

In addition, all route amendments would take effect from Sunday, 17 December 2023 instead, a week’s delay from the originally announced date of 10 December 2023.

The revised route amendment posters also included one for Service 980’s enhancement which was previously not made prior to the backtrack.

Bus Service 75

Bus Service 75 will be amended to Bukit Merah Bus Interchange via Kim Tian Road and Jalan Bukit Merah, omitting Outram Park MRT, Cantonment, Robinson Road / Shenton Way, and Marina Centre.

Lost sectors along Cantonment Road and Cantonment Link will be served by the amended Bus Service 121, while alternative travel options via existing bus services are highlighted in the posters below.

Bus Service 121

Bus Service 121 will be amended to start from Shenton Way Bus Terminal instead of Kampong Bahru Terminal. The new route will ply Anson Road / Shenton Way, and Cantonment Link / Cantonment Road before rejoining its existing route at Outram Park MRT. The remaining part of Bus Service 121, between Outram Park and Telok Blangah Rise (Loop), remains unchanged.

The amendment will supplement the lost sector of Service 75 along Cantonment Road, Cantonment Link, and the Shenton Way area.

Bus Service 162 / 162M

Bus Service 162, which operates from Yio Chu Kang Interchange, will be shortened to loop at Sin Ming Drive via Marymount and Shunfu Road. As a result, the sector from Upper Thomson to Orchard, Bras Basah, Marina Centre (162M) and Shenton Way will be discontinued.

With the amendment of Service 162, its route variant Bus Service 162M between Yio Chu Kang and Marina Centre (Loop) will be withdrawn. Alternative travel options via existing bus services are highlighted in the posters below.

The amended Service 162 increases local connectivity within the Sin Ming area, while also serving Marymount MRT Station in the direction of Sin Ming. Two new bus stops are also added along Sin Ming Drive.

The frequency of Bus Service 162 was also reduced with this amendment. Late-night departures were also introduced from Upper Thomson to Yio Chu Kang till 1 am, matching the last bus timings of the since-discontinued Service 162M.

Service 167

Bus Service 167 was originally announced to be withdrawn from 10 December 2023.

However, following commuter feedback in response to the planned withdrawal, the LTA announced on 28 November 2023 that it would be reversing its decision to withdraw Bus Service 167 [Press release]. Service 167 will now instead operate at 30-minute intervals throughout the day from Sunday, 17 December 2023.

Key segments of Service 167 along Canberra Link & Cantonment will also be served by the amended Services 859 & 121 respectively.

In addition, the frequency of Bus Service 980, which duplicates Service 167 between Sembawang and Thomson Road, will also be increased.

Service 859

Bus Service 859 will be amended to enhance connectivity to Bukit Canberra, via Canberra Link and part of Sembawang Road. It will skip a pair of bus stops along Canberra Road outside and opposite Blk 311, while serving 3 pairs of additional bus stops along Canberra Road, Canberra Link and Sembawang Road.

The route amendment was originally planned to cover lost sectors of Service 167 along Canberra Link and part of Sembawang Road. Following the reversal of Bus Service 167’s withdrawal, Service 859 will duplicate Service 167 along this sector.

On Weekdays and Saturdays, the first bus from Sembawang was also brought forward, from 0545hrs to 0540hrs. This change was not announced in the operator’s poster or press release.

Service 980

When the TEL3 bus amendments were first announced on 17 November 2023, LTA also announced that the frequency of Service 980 would be increased to benefit commuters of Service 167, which was due for withdrawal on 10 December 2023.

Despite the U-turn on Bus Service 167’s withdrawal, proposed improvements to Service 980 would go ahead, with a new effective date of 17 December 2023. In addition to promised frequency improvements (although no frequency ranges were specified), operating hours of Service 980 were also extended to match that of Service 167:

  • First bus timing from Sembawang Int on Weekdays & Saturdays brought forward from 05:55 to 05:30
  • First bus timing from Sembawang Int on Sundays / Public Holidays brought forward from 06:00 to 05:45
  • Last bus timing from Thomson Rd (Bus Stop 50031 – Opp Novena Ch) towards Sembawang Int pushed back, from 23:56 / 23:54 / 23:57 on Weekdays, Saturdays & Sundays / Public Holidays respectively, to 00:30 daily
  • Increased frequency for Service 980 (new frequency range not specified)

Cost Estimates

In a Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Rationale for Reinstating Bus Service 167 after Discontinuation Announcement published on 10 January 2024, the LTA estimated that implementation of the TEL3 bus service changes had achieved cost savings of up to S$5.1 million, which authorities say went towards the launch of new bus routes and feeder services for commuters residing in new BTO developments around Singapore.

In addition, an annual subsidy of S$6.2 million was required to maintain Bus Service 167’s existing service levels, and this dropped to S$3.6 million following the implementation of 30-minute frequencies from 17 December 2023, representing S$2.6 million in annual savings.

Withdrawn Posters (Services 75, 121, 162/162M & 859)

Operator Posters which were withdrawn following the update from the Land Transport Authority on 28 November 2023.

See Also:


47 thoughts on “Thomson-East Coast Line 3 Bus Service Changes

  • 19 April 2024 at 11:21 PM

    Actually to make up for loss of 162M. Service 70M and 857 should do full loop back yio chu kang int and yishun int. So paxs from town still have a bus after 12am to get home.

  • 14 December 2023 at 12:53 PM

    From Ang Mio Kio also can take bus service 853 then transfer bus service 857 to Suntec City


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