SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Monday (Jan 11) it would begin introducing three-door double-deck buses into Singapore's public bus fleet from the end of the month.
A total of 100 of these buses will be progressively added to the fleet over the course of the year. Fifty buses from ST Engineering Land Systems (STELS) will be deployed from the end of January while the remaining buses from Alexander Dennis (Singapore) Services (ADS) will be deployed from the second quarter.
These buses have a second staircase as well as an additional exit door at the rear, features aimed at improving the flow of commuters.
"With an additional staircase, commuters boarding the bus will be able to access the upper deck via the first staircase while alighting commuters are encouraged to make their way down via the second staircase," said LTA in a media release.
The additional exit door will allow commuters at the rear of the bus to alight without having to make their way to the middle of the vehicle, it added.
The LTA said it is working with all four public transport operators here - Go-Ahead, SBS Transit, SMRT and Tower Transport - to determine the routes that the three-door buses will ply.
The buses will first operate the service 334, a feeder service operated by Tower Transit plying a 9km route between Jurong East and Jurong West.
The LTA previously said that the three-door buses were to be introduced here last year.
In response to queries from CNA, an LTA spokesperson said the delivery of these buses was affected by the disruption to global supply chains as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The situation has since improved and suppliers are able to gradually ramp up their production," said the spokesperson.
Wheelchair users will continue to board and disembark from a ramp located at the middle door of the bus, assisted by the bus driver, said LTA.
"Like all our newer buses, the three-door double-deck buses will be equipped with a passenger information display system to provide commuters with route-specific information, such as upcoming bus stops and the MRT and LRT lines near a bus stop," said the LTA.
The buses will also have on-board audio announcements of upcoming bus stops to make commuting easier for visually-impaired commuters, it added.
The buses cost a combined S$64 million.
This deployment follows trials that saw Tower Transit operating a three-door double-deck bus for about seven months in 2017 and SMRT operating a three-door single deck bus on two services between June 2017 and January 2018.
"Commuters who took these buses welcomed the additional door as it made boarding and alighting easier and faster," said LTA.
A survey of 22,000 commuters in 2016 found that 90 per cent supported having a third door on buses here.
The trial of the three-door buses showed an 8 per cent reduction in alighting time for commuters, Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat told reporters during a viewing of the buses at the Bulim Bus Depot on Monday.
Mr Chee also noted the 100 three-door double deck buses represent the last batch of diesel public buses to be deployed in Singapore, with future bus purchases to comprise either diesel-hybrid or fully-electric buses.
Since last year all public buses purchased have been "cleaner energy" vehicles, in line with LTA's aim of having a 100 per cent cleaner energy bus fleet by 2040.