SINGAPORE: A major project to boost public bus services was completed on Saturday (Dec 9), five years after it was introduced.
The Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) S$1.1 billion Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP) was launched in September 2012 to expand bus capacity and enhance service levels for commuters.
Since then, the capacity of 70 per cent of, or 218, bus services have been improved through the use of higher capacity double-decker buses and more frequent deployments.
LTA said this has allowed commuters to enjoy more comfortable rides, as crowding has been reduced substantially, especially during peak periods.
Waiting times have also been cut during peak hours, from half an hour to 20 minutes, and further reduced to 15 minutes with the transition to the bus contracting model.
To mark the completion of the programme, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min officially launched the new bus service 71, taking a ride on the 1000th new government-funded bus added to the network under the programme.
Service 71 is an inter-town trunk service and will ply Yio Chu Kang and Bishan Street 11 on a loop. It is among the 80 new bus services that have been rolled out as part of the BSEP.
Ang Mo Kio Residents Channel NewsAsia spoke to are looking forward to the convenience service 71 will bring.
“Now with 71, we have direct connectivity to Junction 8; it's helpful for school children and for a lot of older people in Ang Mo Kio," said 55-year-old Aloysius Gomes.
"And in the long run, this bus can help us connect to the Thomson Line and the other existing MRT lines, so I think it's the best thing that could happen for us here in Ang Mo Kio."
Sumi Kamin, 44, who works at Raffles Place added: “It's very convenient, especially on rainy days, I will just take the bus to Bishan MRT station, and it won't be as crowded as Ang Mo Kio MRT station during the peak period."
Dr Lam said, overall, buses will remain an important modality of public transport, especially in certain areas not serviced by trains.
“We're going to introduce the hybrid as well as the electric buses over the next few years, and we're also going to trial some innovative models such as autonomous vehicles, probably starting from 2022, we're going to trial it in some of the new towns in Singapore,” he said.