More room on buses as SMRT boosts fleet
COMMUTERS can look forward to less crowded buses with public transport operator SMRT planning to add 573 buses over the next two years.
Nearly half of the these new buses will be double-deckers - a first for SMRT.
This is the largest number of new buses it has bought to replace older bus models as well as expand the fleet. SMRT has over 1,200 buses in its fleet.
SMRT said the new buses will "increase bus capacity on longer routes and bring greater comfort to the commuter's bus journey experience".
The transport operator will progressively add 332 regular buses, 40 bendy buses and 201 double-decker buses.
The first batch of 30 buses will be delivered in June, and undergo further tests before going on the roads in July.
The double-deckers, in particular, will "help ease crowdedness during peak hours, particularly on longer routes with higher passenger loads", added SMRT.
Mr Benny Lim, senior vice-president of SMRT Roads, said: "Expanding our existing fleet will enable us to better address increasingly dynamic road conditions and ensure enhanced capacity in handling increased ridership."
Of the new buses, 218 are funded under the government's $1.1 billion Bus Service Enhancement Programme, which was launched in 2012 to ease overcrowding in Singapore's public transport network.
The number of buses under the programme will be doubled to 1,000 from the original 550 by 2017.
The number of new bus routes will double from 40 to 80 as well.
SMRT's move to add to its fleet was welcomed by many, including Mr Lim Biow Chuan, MP for Mountbatten and a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport.
"We (he and other MPs) are all crying out for more buses to ease congestion on the roads," said Mr Lim.
He hopes that SMRT increases the number of buses to existing services and suggests that there be services to MRT stations as well.
Transport expert Lee Der Horng from the National University of Singapore agrees that this is good news, but questions the addition of double-deckers.
"Singapore's traffic conditions are not suitable for double-decker buses, as the buses may contribute to more bus bunching and extend the travelling time for passengers," he said.
Professor Lee recommended that bendy buses instead be allocated to major roads, while the regular buses transport passengers within neighbourhoods where roads are smaller or narrower.
For Associate Professor Michael Li, a transport economist at Nanyang Business School, the plan is part of a major one to replace ageing buses and to respond to rising demand.
Regular commuter Charissa Teo, 25, is pleased with the fleet growth and renewal, but hopes that services will be added in the long term from the western parts of Singapore to the eastern and northern areas.
"I live in Bukit Panjang and it's difficult for me to travel to estates in Bishan and Toa Payoh," said the project manager.