Aug 15, 2014

    Milestone for bus contracting model

    THE Land Transport Authority will very soon complete a key preliminary step for Singapore's new bus contracting model, when its three-week-long roadshow for local and international operators ends early next week.

    This will pave the way for better-informed interested parties to submit their bids for a tender that will start at the end of next month.

    An LTA spokesman told The Business Times that the briefings, held from end- July to mid-August, were key as it allowed the regulator to reach out to a "wider spread of potential tenderers" and, by doing so, get proposals that will best meet the needs of commuters.

    "LTA is conducting a series of bus contracting briefings to reach out to as many operators as possible. The use of a competitive tendering process will allow us to increase contestability in the public bus industry, and raise bus service levels in a cost-competitive manner," it said in response to BT queries.

    "Operators may also bring with them successful experiences from overseas markets, which will in turn enhance the service levels of our bus industry," it added.

    Even before the roadshow has ended, the new plan - part of a major revamp unveiled in May where the Government will own the buses and bus infrastructure and carve up existing bus routes into 12 packages for competitive bids - appears to have drawn keen interest from both local and foreign operators.

    Many appear to be stepping up their plans to take part in the highly anticipated tender process.

    For one thing, it was reported that Australia's Tower Transit and French joint venture Veolia Transport RATP Asia - these two firms showed their hands to enter the Singapore market not too long after the industry shake-up was announced - have hired performance experts and have set up tender teams.

    Tower Transit, which operates about 400 single- and double-deck buses in London, is even setting up an office in Singapore.

    Local player Woodlands Transport Service, which has one of the largest private transport fleets in Singapore and had also stepped up to the plate earlier, is said to be building a team to participate in the tender.

    Incumbent bus operators SBS Transit and SMRT are likely to join the pool of interested parties.

    LTA is expected to launch the first batch of 24 routes at the end of next month.

    This is one of three packages of bus routes to be put up for grabs in the second half of this year, with the winning bidders commencing operations in 2016. The remaining nine packages will be released in phases by 2022.