Big changes to bus system
Government unveils plans for restructuring public bus industry among other initiatives
The way you get to work (or anywhere else) will soon change.
The public bus system will be overhauled as the Government takes over all bus operating assets and infrastructure. It will then contract out these bus services.
In the addenda to the President's address yesterday, the Government said this restructuring of the public bus system will benefit commuters who can look forward to "better and more responsive bus services".
The latest initiatives come under the banner of a "liveable city, endearing home" and lists several measures, including upgrading public housing estates and the rail system, along with more support for the arts and sports.
The measures are in response to President Tony Tan Keng Yam's opening address at the second session of the 12th Parliament last Friday.
What does this mean?
- Bus operators will bid for the right to operate public bus services through competitive tendering.
- They will be paid fees to operate the service, while fare revenue will be collected by the Government.
- The Government will own and fund all buses, the fleet managing system and bus depots.
How will it work?
- Bus services in Singapore will be bundled into 12 bus packages with about 300-500 buses each. The contracts will be for five years, and can be extended by another two years on good performance.
- From 2016, three packages will be run under this contract. In the second half of the year, there will be a tender open to operators SBS and SMRT, and new local and foreign operators. The remaining buses will be grouped into nine packages and run by the incumbents on contracts to be negotiated.
- By 2022, there will be full tendering of bus services with between three and five bus operators running them.
How will it benefit commuters?
- Consumers can expect better service during peak periods.
- The Government said it can also adjust bus capacity to "address changes in travel demand, patterns and expectations more quickly".
How will it affect workers in the industry?
- The LTA said it has been working with the National Transport Workers' Union and bus operators and assured workers servicing the tendered bus routes that they will not be worse off compared to what they enjoy now.
- Details of the first bus package will be announced next week, LTA added.
- Additional reporting by Linette Heng
In housing, the Ministry of National Development will...
- Set up Home Improvement Programme to cover another 100,000 flats within the next three years.
- Make HDB homes and estates more "age friendly" and enhance them with amenities.
- Provide and integrate spaces such as parks and sports and recreational facilities for "social and community needs".
- Conserve buildings with historical and architectural significance, and strong memories.
In transport, the Transport Ministry will...
- Expand and upgrade the rail system to ease crowding. In the next three years, new lines and extensions will open - the North-South Line extension this year, Tuas West extension in 2016 and the Downtown Line in 2017 - expanding the rail network by 25 per cent.
- Complete major upgrades to track and trains, and upgrade signalling systems for the oldest lines to run more trains at higher frequencies.
- Add 83 more trains to reduce waiting time and crowding.
In social initiatives, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth will...
- Boost support for artists and arts groups.
- Make performing arts spaces more accessible, and open doors for local artists to showcase their works internationally.
- Develop and enhance Singapore's cultural infrastructure, like the New National Gallery and the New Indian Heritage Centre.
- Offer more sporting programmes through ActiveSG, which aims to encourage a sporting lifestyle. It will also continue to support Singaporeans with the potential to excel in sports.
On population issues, the Prime Minister's Office (National Population and Talent Division) will...
- Continue to coordinate and develop policies across Government agencies for a "sustainable population" as the number of older Singaporeans grows and as Singapore slows down the foreign workforce growth.
- Continue to welcome new citizens who are committed and willing to contribute to Singapore
- Continue to help new citizens better integrate here while promoting "great mutual understanding and acceptance" between Singaporeans and foreigners.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced yesterday that the public bus industry will be under a Government contracting model starting in the second half of this year.