The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has awarded the contracts for the Bulim and Sembawang-Yishun bus packages to Tower Transit Singapore Pte Ltd (TTS). The contracts are estimated to be at a total fee of $1.03 billion over the five-year contract period, and will commence progressively from the second quarter of 2021. If TTS performs well during the five-year term, LTA has the option to extend the contract term by another two years at the end of the five-year contract.
2 The Bulim package, which is currently operated by TTS, consists of 29 bus services operating from Bulim Depot. TTS will continue to manage Bukit Batok and Jurong East Bus Interchanges.
3 The Sembawang-Yishun package, which is currently operated by SMRT Buses Ltd (SMRT), consists of 27 bus services. These services will operate from the new Mandai Depot, which will be handed over to TTS by October 2020. TTS will also manage Sembawang and Yishun Bus Interchanges.
4 The tender for the Bulim and Sembawang-Yishun bus packages was called on 29 November 2019 and bus operators had the option to bid for either bus package or for both packages. Tender submissions were evaluated based on a two-envelope process which looked at both quality and price factors. The price submissions were only opened after the quality evaluation was completed. This two-envelope process ensures that LTA gets the best value-for-money proposal without compromising on quality.
5 TTS was awarded the contract for the combined package, because it received the highest total score taking into account both price and quality factors in its proposal. TTS demonstrated an excellent understanding of the operational considerations and a strong commitment towards enhancing inclusivity and commuter experience on public transport through the following:
b) Its plan to work with the relevant agencies, such as the Public Transport Council and social service agencies, to introduce a Public Bus Confidence Course to familiarise the elderly and less mobile commuters with use of our public bus services;
c) Its plan to hire more persons with disabilities as its customer experience and inclusivity officers to leverage their personal experience in challenges faced by this group of commuters on public buses. This will help identify gaps and enhance inclusivity for bus infrastructure and services; and
d) Its commitment to concentrating its recruitment efforts on building a stronger Singaporean core.
Transition of affected workers
6 Affected SMRT employees of the Sembawang – Yishun bus package will be protected by the Guidelines on Good Employment Practices in the Public Bus Industry. All employees affected by new tender or change in bus service contracts must be offered a job by the incoming operator, at employment terms that are not worse-off than what they have been enjoying before transition.
7 Since the move to the bus contracting model, Singapore’s bus industry has benefited from increased contestability with the entry of two new operators, i.e. TTS and Go-Ahead Singapore. This has created more job opportunities for bus workers and levelled up the industry, where the bus workforce now enjoys better working conditions as well as employment terms and conditions. For example, TTS has enabled bus captains to concentrate on driving by employing shunters who refuel, wash and park the buses at bus depots at the end of the day. In addition, TTS has introduced new technology to improve work processes. For example, it has equipped its technicians with tablets so they can directly input maintenance data to the fleet management system to minimise data entry errors. These practices are now more prevalent in the bus industry.