SINGAPORE: Those taking Tower Transit's bus service 143 from Monday (Mar 13) may notice something different - instead of two doors, it might have three.
The double-deck bus is part of a six-month trial by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) as it hopes to improve commuter flow, especially during boarding and alighting. The bus will also have two staircases - one going up and the other coming down - giving commuters a dedicated exit route from the upper deck and out directly through the third door.
Tower Transit said service 143 was chosen as it is a long trunk route with a consistent load of commuters. It also comes close to its capacity of 139 people during peak hours, the operator said.
LTA said a single-deck bus run by SMRT, also with three doors, will begin service from the second quarter of 2017, with the service number to be announced at a later date. Both trial bus services will cover both residential and commercial areas, it added.
The SMRT bus, which will begin service from the second quarter of 2017. (Photo: Kenneth Lim)
The idea of three-door buses was first introduced at the 2016 Bus Carnival, where about 90 per cent of 22,000 people surveyed supported having a third door on buses while another 95 per cent said a second staircase on double-deck buses would be useful, according to a news release by LTA and the two transport operators.
"Deploying the three-door buses will allow us to study this concept further by observing commuter flow and how the bus adapts to the existing infrastructure," LTA's group director of Public Transport, Yeo Teck Guan, said.
Designed by ST Kinetics, both buses also include features like designated wheelchair spaces, a passenger information display system and USB ports.
Most commuters taking the new bus service 143 said they welcomed the new features.
"This will allow us to board and alight the bus faster, because you won't have to squeeze down from one staircase,” said student Cheung Ho Hoi.
Healthcare worker Azila Jamil said the new stairways will allow commuters to “avoid collisions at the staircase, maybe save a lot of time at the bus stop”.
But they also had some concerns about having specific stairways for passengers to go up or down the bus.
"People are used to alighting from the front staircase for so many years already, so I believe it will take a few months (for them) to adapt to this situation,” added Mr Cheung.
While Mr Ong Jun Ming said the new 143 was “a very nice bus”, he said that having just one stairway for commuters to leave the top deck meant that those sitting at the front of the bus would have to move to the back to alight.
“It may be inconvenient for the elderly as well as children,” he said.
Channel NewsAsia understands that these vehicles may cost up to 15 per cent more than regular buses.
To assess if the trial is a success, Tower Transit said staff will measure the time the three-door bus stays at each bus stop on the route. The bus operator will also collect feedback on the three-door bus through an online survey, and stickers with the survey link will be put up inside the bus, it added.