- POSTED: 19 Dec 2013 07:22
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Bus operators could take turns to ply the routes between dormitories for foreign workers and Little India on Sundays, instead of operating every Sunday, as is the case now.
SINGAPORE: Bus operators could take turns to ply the routes between dormitories for foreign workers and Little India on Sundays, instead of operating every Sunday, as is the case now.
More parking could also be made available for the buses, so they need not "loiter" along the roads and exacerbate traffic congestion in the area.
These are some of the proposals being mulled over by transport associations, as their member bus operators express relief at being able to operate again, albeit at a reduced capacity.
At a press conference on Wednesday with the Singapore Police Force and the Ministry of Manpower, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced that private bus services to Little India will resume operations this Sunday, but at half the number of scheduled buses. These services will be available between 2pm and 9pm, instead of 2pm to 11pm previously.
These measures are part of the Government's calibrated and sustainable approach to restore normalcy in Little India, said Mr Yeo Teck Guan, LTA Group Director for Public Transport.
Mr Yeo said the changes were made "in consultation" with the two bus associations licensed to operate in the area - the Singapore School Transport Association (SSTA) and Singapore School and Private Hire Bus Owners' Association (SSPHBOA)- and they are "supportive of this graduated approach".
There are currently 25 bus services operating between 250 and 280 buses between the dormitories and Little India. Bus operators ferry about 20,000 to 23,000 workers to and from Little India over the weekends and the LTA is looking to reduce the numbers by half to ease congestion, Mr Yeo said.
In addition, the LTA will consider setting up infrastructure to facilitate safer queues for private bus services in the Race Course Road area.
Speaking to TODAY, SSTA Chairman Wong Ann Lin said the Government could build fences at the waiting areas and an additional parking area, as well as provide better lighting. He added that the association will deploy more marshals this Sunday.
"We will send about 10 extra assistant marshals to make sure there is some discipline when the workers board the buses," he said.
The proposal to share the routes, Mr Wong said, is aimed at sharing the reduced number of trips in an equitable way.
“We (are licensed to run) about 14 routes, one route about 20 buses. So 10 will operate this week, the other 10 next week,” he said.
A meeting will be called this week to discuss the measures with the bus operators.
SSPHBOA President Neo Tiam Beng said the move to allow bus operators back on the route was quite good and that he had expected the suspension to last for a few months.
While the bus operators are still able to “make some money”, he hopes the LTA will increase the capacity in the coming weeks.
Bus operators TODAY spoke to said the shorter operating hours would not affect earnings significantly as it would mean operators need only take one or two trips less, amounting to about S$200 less in earnings each.
Currently, operators make three or four trips each. Workers are charged between S$2 and S$3 each trip and each bus can ferry up to about 40 workers.
However, one operator, who did not wish to be named, felt the measures would be ineffective in easing congestion as the workers can take public transport after 9pm.
“What is the point of controlling the buses when there are no measures to control the number of people going to the area? Can the public transport system deal with the huge number of people there if we are out of the picture? It looks as if it’s just a transfer of money to different pockets,” he said.
Instead of curtailing bus services, workers should be educated on obeying traffic rules, he added.