Archive for August, 2014

The STC story Part 4 : The aftermath

August 27, 2014

On 4 December 1971, it was announced to the media that there will be no STC bus service. All the company buses were driven to National Stadium carpark at Kallang. Commuters on Sunday 5 December had to make do with bus services operated by the other 3 bus companies. National Stadium carparks A and B next to Nicoll Highway will serve as the temporary depot and buses will be dispatch from there the following Monday 6 December.
STC has a fleet of 571 buses in 1970, of the different models of buses, only the Isuzus, Nissans, Fusos and Guy Arabs were transferred. The remaining 125 Albion Victors were too old, close to 20 years. Majority were scrapped with a handful bought by the private school bus operators. The remaining 407 buses were balloted and allocated to the three other companies : Associated, Amalgamated and United.
With the Albions scrapped, there was a shortage of buses, the three companies scramble to get whatever spare buses they had and put them on the roads. Although the news announcement stated that the STC buses in green livery will continue to operate, this was not the case. Commuters on the next Monday morning found that the other companies’ buses were used. Some of the routes served by STC were also suspended until new buses became available. The three companies did keep the green livery for a short while. All of them paint the strip below the window line into their respective company colours leaving the bottom part green :
Amalgamated Bus Company :
 photo STCABC_zpsfb16ff8f.jpg
Associated Bus Service :
 photo STCABS_zps9ef45b4e.jpg
United Bus Company :
 photo STCUBC_zps7d34bb08.jpg

Acknowledgement : TheBusDude

The STC story Part 3 : The demise

August 20, 2014

Throughout its 53 year history, the company suffered from several strikes and worker – management problems.
STC bus workers on strike in the 1950s :
 photo stcstrike_zps2fd9a516.jpg
Other bus companies were roped in to take over the STC routes during the strike. Kampong Bahru Bus running on STC route 16 during the strike :
 photo strikebus_zps43b8f476.jpg
There was also a problem with corruption, with bus crews and inspectors pocketing fares, did not issue tickets for full journey or recycle used tickets. Soon gangsters got involved. They also gave free rides to passengers to teach the company a lesson. The company began losing money from 1964 to 1971. No dividends were declared through the years with the exception of 1970.
With the 1971 bus system re-organisation, the 1925 STC Ordinance was repealed and the company lost the monopoly in the city area. STC had to compete the other three companies, adding to its financial burden. The company finally declared bankrupt in 1971. All that were left in the company were 407 buses and 2 pieces of depot land at Mackenzie Road and Upper Aljunied Road. The routes and buses were distributed among the three companies.
The last company annual report issued in 1970 showed an accumulated lost of $5,313,688.
Attempts were made to revive the company in December 1975, 7 years after it ceased bus operation. All efforts were futile. The company was finally wound up at an extraordinary general meeting. With a start-up capital of $14.2 million, its assets shrunk to $275,000 at the point of winding up.

Acknowledgement : National Archives Singapore

The STC story Part 2 : The “new” company

August 13, 2014

In 1964, the owners in London sold all the company shares to a group of local investors. The new owners toyed with the idea of changing the company name, logo and the liveries of its buses. The company drawing office’s draftsmen were tasked to come up with different liveries. Some of the liveries were applied to the buses for trial :
 photo STC3_zpsd9c8a5f9.jpg
Eventually the company decided to paint its buses lower half green with a red band below the window, retaining the original company logo :
 photo STC4_zps4feab1f0.jpg
Company logo and company flag :
 photo stcflag_zpsa728b4a5.jpg
In 1964, Singapore being part of the Malaysian federation, it was only politically correct to change the name of the “new” company to Syarikat Berhad Trekshen Singapura. This did not came to pass and the original company name was retained with the “1964” added : Singapore Traction Company (1964) Ltd. The share capital in 1964 company was $14.2million and by 1970s, it operates a fleet of 500 buses, the biggest bus fleet in Singapore back then. The company also own two plots of land at MacKenzie Road and Upper Aljunied Road, both used as bus depot with the Mackenzie Road premises also housing the head office.
MacKenzie Road depot and office :
 photo MacKenzie_zps19a2eb39.jpg
Upper Aljunied Road depot :
 photo aljunieddepot_zpseb332d46.jpg
The company also embark on an attempt to start a bus building company in collaboration with Nissan in Aug 1968. A new company Singapore Nissan Motors Pte Ltd was formed with two other shareholders : Nissan Motor Co. from Japan and Tan Chong Motor & Sons Co., the local distributor of Nissan vehicles. The company produces Datsun pickups and Nissan buses.
 photo stcnissanfactory_zpsfd62d8a0.jpg

Acknowledgement : 1. National Archives Singapore 2. TheBusDude

The STC story Part 1 : The beginning

August 6, 2014

Singapore Electric Tramways (SET) started an electric tram service in 1902. This company is the predecessor of STC. The power station used to generate electricity was located at MacKenzie Road, the same place which later became a STC bus depot.
Cart loads of coal for electricity generation at MacKenzie Road:
 photo coal_zps8fdeae78.jpg
Trams ran on steel tracks :
 photo tram_zps6d528933.jpg
In 1910, there were 60 tramcars in service. The trams operated at a lost for 18 years before they were withdrawn in 1920.
Singapore Traction Company Ltd took over SET in 1925 and under the 1925 STC Ordinance, the company was given monopoly to operate buses in the city area. The company quickly replaced the trams running on steel tracks with trolley buses which ran on solid rubber tyres :
 photo trolley1_zps538e11b2.jpg
There are two section on the bus. The front portion is the first class whilst the rear is the second class. I am not sure what was the difference between the two classes on the bus. My guess is that in first class section all passengers were guaranteed a seat. These are the tickets for 1st and 2nd class :
 photo stctic2_zps9e3e5e5b.jpg
 photo stctic1_zps201cf43a.jpg
The total number of trolley buses used was 108 and it operates on a 40km route network. In 1929, the company also added motor buses to its fleet as its area of operation expands. The total number of motor buses eventually totaled 300. When World War II started, many of the buses were commandeered to ferry troops to Malaya and many of them destroyed. During the Japanese occupation, the company operated under the name of Syonan Tokubetsu. After the war, only 20 operational trolley buses remained. All the rests were damaged beyond repair and were cannibalized for spare parts. The replacements came in 1948, 50 number of brand new trolley bus chassis built by Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies were shipped in from UK to Singapore for bodying by Lee Kiat Seng :
 photo trolley2_zps6b207149.jpg
At the same time, the company also started to rebuild its fleet of motorbuses acquiring Bedford, Ford, Albion and Dennis buses. With the introduction of one way streets in the city area, trolley buses had trouble in changing its operation due to the overhead wires and road side infrastructures. Some of the services had to run counter to the direction of traffic flow.
The trolley bus system lost favour with the management and was eventually scrapped in December 1962. From then on, STC only operate motorbuses.