Better connectivity, less crowding, shorter waiting times
As of 31 December 2014, 550 Government-funded buses under the Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP) have been rolled out. First announced in 2012, the BSEP has helped reduce crowding, improve bus frequencies and provide better connectivity for commuters. In March last year, it was further announced that the BSEP would be expanded to 1,000 buses by 2017; commuters can therefore expect even higher service standards.
Better connectivity with new bus services
2. Between October and December 2014, four new bus services were introduced - SBS Transit Services 41, 140, and 201, and SMRT Service 990. An existing bus service - SBS Transit Service 35 - was extended. This brings the total number of new or extended services under BSEP to 36.
3. By March 2015, another four new routes in Choa Chu Kang, Punggol and Queenstown will be introduced. Details of these new routes are currently being worked out.
Less crowding, shorter waiting times
4. To reduce crowding and shorten waiting times, 38 additional buses were deployed to 34 bus services during morning and evening peak hours in the fourth quarter of 2014. In all, 480 weekly peak-hour bus trips were added in this period.
5. One such bus service is SBS Transit Service 225, which serves Bedok residents. This feeder service now runs at five to six minute intervals during the morning peak period, an improvement from five to nine minute intervals previously. Similarly, for the evening peak period, the service now runs at intervals of four to seven minutes, compared to five to nine minutes previously.
6. SMRT Service 920, operating in Bukit Panjang, now runs at nine to 10 minute intervals during the morning peak period, compared to 14 to 16 minutes previously. Similarly, for the evening peak period, this feeder service now runs at intervals of 10 minutes, compared to 16 minutes previously.
7. Besides improving bus services during morning and evening peak periods, to better serve the needs of commuters travelling to and from nearby bus interchanges or MRT stations, more trips have also been injected through supplementary bus services during weekday off-peak periods and on weekends. SBS Transit Service 43M, introduced in November 2014, supplements SBS Transit Service 43 by enhancing the connection between Punggol Bus Interchange and Serangoon Central.
8. The operating hours of supplementary SBS Transit Service 17A were also extended in November 2014. Service 17A now operates from 5.50am to 11pm daily, compared to weekday peak periods previously. This service supplements SBS Transit Service 17 by enhancing the connection between Bedok North Avenue 4 and Bedok Bus Interchange.
9. In addition, to reduce waiting times for selected existing feeder services during peak periods, 10 Peak Period Short Services (PPSS) were introduced to bring residents in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Boon Lay, Clementi, Pasir Ris, Tampines, Woodlands and Yew Tee1 to bus interchanges or MRT stations. Four more such services will begin operating in January 2015 - two in Yishun and one service each in Ang Mo Kio and Woodlands.
Improvements by Public Transport Operators (PTOs)
10. Separately, as part of the on-going quarterly bus service review process, the two PTOs have also improved 122 bus services by deploying higher capacity buses and/or adding more bus trips along sectors that experience heavy ridership. This is to better match demand along these sectors. In total, the operators have added 35 weekly trips during peak hours for these services in the fourth quarter. This is in addition to the 480 additional weekly peak-hour bus trips added by the Government under the BSEP during the same period.
Doubling of Government-funded BSEP buses from 550 to 1,000
11. In March 2014, the Ministry of Transport announced that another 450 buses will be rolled out by 2017 under the BSEP, with the bulk of improvements to be made by 2016. Priority will be given to improving the frequencies of feeder bus services during peak hours. By 2017, buses will be added to about 8 out of 10 feeder bus services. With the expansion of BSEP to 1,000 buses, commuters can progressively expect even better service levels. Connectivity will also be further improved with the increase in number of new routes from 40 to 80.
12. With this additional capacity, PTOs will be required to deliver higher service standards. Prior to the BSEP, operators were required to operate at least 90% of feeder bus services at not more than 10-minute scheduled intervals during the one-hour peak periods in the morning and evening. Under the BSEP, 95% of feeder services are required to operate at 10-minute intervals during the two-hour morning and evening peak periods by end 2014. This will be further tightened to 100% of feeder services operating at not more than 8-minute intervals by 2017 when the BSEP is fully implemented.
1 The 10 PPSS are Services 222P, 240P, 268P, 285P, 291P, 293P, 307P, 358P, 359P and 912P.
2 These 12 bus services are SMRT Services 61, 169, 176, 850E, 858, 965, 972, 951E and 969, as well as SBST Services 181, 183 and 254.