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Jurong, Clementi, Bukit Batok will be first to see contracted bus routes: LTA

The Land Transport Authority on Wednesday (May 28) announced details of the first package of bus services that it will tender out in the second half of 2014, for implementation in the second half of 2016.

SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Wednesday (May 28) announced details of the first package of bus services that it will tender out in the second half of 2014.

Under a new contracting model announced last week, bus operators will bid for the right to operate the services, based on the routes and service standards laid out by the LTA, which will pay the operators. The Government will own all bus assets.

As part of the transition, LTA will tender out three packages of bus services comprising about 20 per cent of existing buses over the next two years.

The first package will comprise 24 existing services originating from the Jurong East, Bukit Batok and Clementi bus interchanges, the LTA said. Eight services will be from SMRT and 16 from SBS Transit.

The package, to be implemented from the second half of 2016, will start with about 380 buses. It will eventually grow to about 500 buses in 2021, in tandem with ridership growth and the development of Tengah New Town and Bukit Batok West, LTA said.

The services will be operated out of the new Bulim bus depot – located off Jurong West Ave 2 – which is scheduled for completion in 2015. It will be equipped with workshop facilities for the refuelling, maintenance and repair of buses. The new depot can accommodate 500 buses.

Details of the second and third bus packages will be announced later, LTA said.

THE FIRST PACKAGE UNDER THE GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING MODEL

Experts said the regions selected for the first services under the new model make sense.

Professor Lee Der-Horng, with the department of civil and environmental engineering at the National University of Singapore, said: "(Jurong) provides some sizeable housing units and it provides some quality employment and there are many educational institutions over there and as well as shopping facilities.

"Jurong area is more like a standalone, so it will be reasonable and it is expected for the government to make use of the Jurong area as the first trial point to try out this direct contracting of the bus service."

For private bus operators looking to make a bid, the devil will be in the details.

Roger Wong, general manager and head of department for buses at Woodlands Transport, said: "For us, the main concern is not the location but the content of the tender. What is the requirements and whether we are able to fulfil the requirements.

"We are worried about the pricing. How would they want us to price the thing? Is it a one-off pricing or a step-up pricing for the five-year contract? The next thing we are worried about is the operating cost, oil price, and the drivers. Whether we can employ enough drivers to fill up the vacancies." 

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