Top Stories

A public (bus) love affair

COMMON PASSION: (From left) Mr Wee, Santosh, Mr Chua and Mr Syabiel are part of FB group Buses[in]gapore.


    Aug 07, 2014

    A public (bus) love affair

    MOST people listen to music for relaxation.

    Syabiel Ahamed gets on a bus and soaks in the soft hum of its engine.

    Sometimes, he finds it jarring. That's when he listens to the recordings on his phone. Again, it's not the sound of music that he turns to but - would you have guessed it? - the sounds of other bus engines he has recorded.

    Some people collect stamps.

    Mr Syabiel, 19, collects bus tickets from the 1970s and bus route brochures.

    In fact, his love for buses has caused hearts to break.

    "When I start talking about buses, I get excited to the point where my girlfriends gets jealous," he told My Paper.

    But then, Mr Syabiel knows others who share his love.

    He is part of a Facebook group, Buses[in]gapore. Everyday, the page is filled with photographs of buses from all over the world.

    Started in August 2010 by Mark Chua, 24, the page now has more than 5,000 likes.

    It is also the platform that introduced Mr Chua to Mr Syabiel and to their fellow bus enthusiasts Santosh Kumar, 15, and Bernard Wee, 36.

    While chatting with My Paper at Dhoby Ghaut, the four pointed to the buses on the road and jabbered away on their makes and origins.

    From the sound of the engines, they were able to specify engine types.

    The group estimates that, between the two public bus operators here, there are 34 types of buses on Singapore's roads.

    These enthusiasts also own bits and pieces of the very buses they love. Sitting in Santosh's home is a green bus seat and licence plate that he picked up from a scrapyard.

    All four of them fell in love with buses when they were young. Mr Chua started off by building buses with Lego building blocks.

    Mr Syabiel is in awe of the presence that the bus commands on the road.

    He enjoys riding in near-empty buses. "I love having it to myself," he explained.

    Each enthusiast has his own favourite bus service and route.

    Mr Wee, an inventory officer, fondly recalled snapping photographs of the Service 170 buses before they were converted to newer models, and catching the very first double-decker, air-conditioned Service 7 at Bedok interchange in 1993.

    Each one takes pictures of buses - but this can be tricky as it arouses the suspicion of security personnel.

    They are sometimes forced to leave the premises or take photographs on the sly.

    In Mr Wee's case, the worst has been suspected of him.

    "Staff at the Queen Street terminal asked me whether I was planning to bomb the place!" he said with a laugh.