Archive for February, 2015


February 25, 2015

Singapore celebrate SG50 this year, 50 years of independence. 50 years ago, the buses were non air con, high floor, operate with poor frequency, rude bus crews, poor quality and badly maintained buses. Route guides were non existent except for STC, which publishes some bus guides but not frequently. Connectivity was also poor, as the bus routes were not planned properly, each bus company craved out their own territory.
After 50 years, bus transport now is totally different but yet many people still have many grouses despite of the tremendous improvement.
Some of the complaints which I have heard :
Air con too cold – complain too cold
Air con not cold enough – complain too hot
Bus with steps – complain why no low floor, zero step bus
Bus with low floor, zero steps – complain about the aisle narrow or sitting arrangement
Older buses used on the route – complain how come no new low floor buses
Newest low floor buses used on the routes – complain not enough seats
Bus stop a few steps away from the kerb – complain, every bus must stop exactly right next to the curb
Bus came a few minutes late – complain why bus was late
Bus came a few minutes early – complain missed the bus
Buses arrived togather at bus stop – complain, even though a lot of which is due to traffic situations
Bus go too fast – complain reckless driver
Bus go too slow – complain driver with bad attitude
Bus travel at speed not too fast or slow – complain why driver cannot drive faster so can reach destination earlier
Bus stopped, exit door open, a puddle of water in front of the door, complain why driver did not stop where there are no puddles of water, as if the driver have eyes at the centre of the bus to see any puddles of water on the ground at the exit door area
List of complaints goes on….
What is taking buses like 50 years ago?
Go to the bus stop. If there is a shelter, good. If no shelter, stand in the hot sun or under the rain, only these two weather choices :

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You know the bus routes, good for you. You don’t know, too bad, ask the people around to see which bus goes where. Hard luck if all the people say they don’t know or give you the wrong information.
Next wait and hope that it won’t be eternity before the bus arrive. Hope again that the bus driver will stop for you, some don’t even bother to stop to pick up commuters if there are no passengers alighting, just drove by with a “bo chap” attitude. If the bus did stop, better hope that the bus is not so crowded so that you still can hang on to the door and ride with your feet standing on the steps :

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Then you pay your fare to a foul mouth gangster called the “bus conductor” with one cigarette dangling on his mouth. Present day bus crews are angels in comparison.
If the bus is not crowded, find a seat which is not broken and hope the passengers around you are not smoking.
On rainy days, hope that the windows can be closed and the roof does not leak. Using umbrellas in the bus is not a strange sight. When you give big dollar notes to the bus conductor, expect the change to be soggy and soaking wet smaller notes. The bus conductors are not spared from the leaking roofs and broken windows and he can’t hold an umbrella while he is doing his job!
Then you hope you be able to complete your journey without the bus breaking down. I have seen things such as this, wheel falling of a bus :

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50 years ago, there were not only puddles of water on the road sides. Horror! We have big floods! And it is a frequent occurrence. You are lucky if the bus services were not suspended :

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So getting the dainty little feet wet on a puddle of water is nothing.

You see, taking bus 50 years ago requires a lot of hope, patience, tolerance and luck.
For those die hard incurable whiners who love to indulge in their “whining debauchery”, try going to some neighbouring countries and take a ride on their public buses, better still, during raining season.

Acknowledgement : Photos from National Archives Singapore

CAS bus plan

February 19, 2015

Changi Airport started operation in 1981. SBS operates five services known as CAS (Changi Airport Service) 390, 391, 392, 394 and 395 to serve the airport workers. A fleet of 31 buses were used on these routes.
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390 Queen Street – passenger terminal building (PTB)
392 Somapah – PTB
393 Somapah – Cargo Complex
394 Bedok – PTB
395 Bedok – Cargo Complex

Singapore Shuttle Bus (SSB) and 15 Scheme B bus operators under the Singapore School and Private Hire Bus Owners Association (SSPHBOA) operates another set of five routes.
The routes were numbered after the Boeing aircraft models. Four of them 727, 737, 747 and 757 were jointly operated by SSB and SSPHBOA Scheme B operators. The fifth route 767 was operated by SSB.

727 Ang Mo Kio – PTB
737 Toa Payoh – PTB
747 Kallang Bahru – PTB
757 Queenstown – PTB
767 Cargo Complex – PTB

While the routes operated by SBS did not encounter any problems, the routes operated by SSB and SSPHBOA were plagued with problems from day one.
Originally, SSB was required to supply 44 buses and Scheme B operators 41, making a total of 85 buses. Due to poor demand, the total was reduced to 70 buses. However, the actual number of buses operating on these routes were only 53 or less.
SSB need to operate the city shuttle services during the day time, there were not enough buses deployed on the airport routes resulting in poor frequencies. In addition, some of their buses such as the Leyland FGs and Mercedes O309s 19 seaters were too small to cope with the peak hour load.
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City shuttle services ends at 7pm, operates half day on Saturday and non-operational on Sundays and public holidays. During these periods, SSB dump its entire fleet of 80 buses on the airport routes, squeezing out the Scheme B operators resulting in lots of complaints and unhappiness. As most of the Scheme B operators treat the services as their sideline, discipline in turning up to run the service was also problem, especially during off peak periods when fares collected is not enough to offset the cost of operation. Both SSB and SSPHBOA then individually approached the authorities with their own plan to form a separate company and take over the routes. The plans failed to get approval.
The entire CAS plan was a non-profitable venture for both SBS and SSB/SSPHBOA even though 12000 people were working at the airport, excluding the public and visitors.
By June 1983, the authority step in and asked SBS to take over all the routes. SBS revamped the entire CAS bus plan and introduced five routes : 9, 24, 57, 149, 390. The 15 Scheme B operators were invited to take part in routes 24, 57 and 149. Scheduling will be controlled by SBS. The Scheme B operators pulled out of the joint service with SBS not long after, citing poor profit.

Acknowledgement : National Archives Singapore

Old bus terminus – Potong Pasir

February 4, 2015

Potong Pasir was a relatively new town. Construction of HDB flats started in 1982. The housing estate was served by one bus service SBS 147, which was diverted from Toa Payoh to terminate at Potong Pasir Avenue 1.
This is the map of the location :

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View of the former roadside terminus :
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After the withdrawal of 147, a feeder service 142 was started linking Potong Pasir to Toa Payoh bus interchange :
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