A bus from the past
Carnival showcases bus industry's history and future
Commuters today enjoy buses that are safe and air-conditioned, with comfortable seats.
They are a far cry from the ones SBS Transit employee Foo Ah Boon used to work on almost 50 years ago.
"Back then, the buses didn't even have proper doors," said Mr Foo, 77.
"On hot days, everybody would be drenched in sweat as the buses were narrow and stuffy.
"On rainy days, the bus would be flooded as rainwater would seep in from the ventilation hole on the roof of the bus.
"As the bus could only fit 25 people, I would often have to stand at the staircase throughout the bus journey (to do the job)."
A vintage bus similar to the ones Mr Foo used to work in is on display at Our Bus Journey, an inaugural bus carnival organised by the Land Transport Authority. It opens today.
Mr Foo said comfort was probably the least of his worries when he started out as a bus conductor in 1968 with private company United Bus.
He joked that he "feared for his life" every day at work.
"Sometimes, the tyres would detach themselves from the bus and the brakes would malfunction.
"I've also seen a driver pull out the entire gear stick," said Mr Foo, whose job then was to collect fares from passengers.
"Surprisingly, there were fewer road accidents those days."
Then, rides cost between five cents and 25 cents. And when a bus broke down, passengers would have to wait an hour for the next one.
"It was also difficult to get a replacement bus quickly as we did not have mobile phones," said Mr Foo, who had to work seven days a week, earning $5 a day.
"It's unlike today, when free shuttle buses arrive within 15 minutes of a breakdown."
There were also unusual passengers and cargoes then.
Mr Foo, who can speak all four of Singapore's official languages, said: "Back then, durians and livestock were allowed on buses. We would occasionally have live chickens frantically escaping the bus.
"There were 'regular' pickpockets, whom I could recognise when the bus approached the bus stop. I would quickly warn commuters to keep their belongings safe."
After 11 years as a bus conductor, Mr Foo became a bus driver in 1980. There, he faced a different set of problems.
He said: "We had to drive on sticky soil and the bus would get stuck. All the commuters would help to push the bus. There were no bystanders."
These days, work is a little less exciting for Mr Foo, whose job now is to ensure bus captains are in a suitable condition to start their shifts.
He works from 4.30am to 7.30am before going marketing with his wife, 70.
"My children are supportive of me working despite my age. I love my work because it allows me to interact with many people," said Mr Foo, who has three daughters.
"I need to work to pass the time and also to keep my mind sharp."
Back then, durians and livestock were allowed on buses. We would occasionally have live chickens frantically escaping the bus.
- SBS Transit employee Foo Ah Boon, 77, who started out as a bus conductor in 1968 with private company United Bus
Our Bus Journey bus carnival
NGEE ANN CITY, CIVIC PLAZA
Today till Sunday
VIVOCITY, OUTDOOR PLAZA
March 25 to 27
TOA PAYOH, HDB HUB
April 1 to 3