Was kinda surprised to read yesterday’s papers to see our Transport Minister announced the following changes to our public bus services.

1) higher frequency in bus dispatching. Bus will come in 10min or less during peak times compared to 15min now.

2) More commuters will complete their rides in an hour or less.

3) Trips by bus will on the whole take considerably shorter time than before to cut the difference compared to trips by car.

4) Gahmen will do the routes planning instead. (Yeah!!!)

5) More players into the bus services. (Yeah!!!!!!111)

6) More full time bus lanes at various locations/roads. Also, bus will get priority at junctions and while turning out to lanes. Thus, bus speed will be raised.

7) Fares will be based on distance travelled solely. This means that transferring between bus services will cost less.

I have always had a bad impression of the public transport system in singapore, especially bus services. Operated by two companies (who also owned the trains network), they have not been serving the public in the best way that i could have imagined. My previous post stated the various short-comings that i have personally experienced.

Now not all the above-mentioned will be implemented so soon, but what will they bring for heartlander commuters like me?

Firstly, i celebrate the decision to have the routes planned by the gahmen instead of the individual companies. I hope that with a centralised planning agency, routes will be based on the most direct and fastest, instead of the current ones which seek to pass through most places to get the most commuters to get the most profits while not taking the most direct route.

Also, the plan to allow more private companies to enter the market is a good one. This will directly raise the standards of the services through competition. SBS and SMRT can afford to be complacent because its either taxi or buy ur own car or them. Since they still work out to be the cheapest (but not the fastest), many people i believe still choose them unwillingly.

Thirdly, by increasing the frequency of services, the horrible waiting time currently experienced by many will be reduced. Many times one will find him/herself wasting valuable time on waiting for bus to arrive, only to find the one that came so crowded that it didn’t even stop. And this seems to happen on services where there should be double deckers.

I am not sure of what is the side effect of increasing the frequency. More buses will need to be stationed at the interchanges and the land allocated for the parking will need to increase since one cannot expect the bus to come back to interchanges on time. One of the problems i faced is when buses one the opposite route get jammed and unable to reach the interchange on time, therefore unable to set out on time for the route i am travelling. This translate into a disgusting experience of waiting 30min for a bus which is less than 10 stops from the interchange.

Perhaps the greatest effect i will be feeling is my decision to buy a car. If the transport system can be improved drastically through the changes planned, than going to work and home by buses or train won’t be so bad after all. By owning a car, i get my much needed private space while travelling but car ownership is still very costly to me, coupled with the rising fuel prices, this is becoming more of an illusion to me.

It remains to be seen how all these will turn out. I am reserved over how the gahmen can turn things around but at least something is done. SBS will not make any changes to improve their bus services at the expense of their profits. So now in the hands of gahmen, maybe the situation will improve?

And when things do, i won’t need to think about Jazz or SX-4 anymore.