SBS bus travel on the Singapore's Chinatown on September 27, 2013 in Singapore. SBS Transit Limited is a of the largest public transport operator in Singapore from Shutterstock.com

Six-month trial for on-demand public buses to start on 17 December 2018

A six-month On-Demand Public Bus (ODPB) trial will be started on 17 December 2018, which will enable commuters to book an ODPB ride using their mobile application by requesting to be picked up and dropped off at any bus stop within defined areas during designated hours, even if the bus stops are currently not served by the same bus service.

Announced in a press release on Monday (3 December), the Land Transport Authority (LTA) stated that the defined areas are in Joo Koon, Marina-Downtown and from the Central Business District (CBD) to Bedok and Tampines via the Geylang corridor.

Two public transport operators will be involved in the six-month period. SBS Transit Ltd will commence its weekday ODPB services from 17 December 2018 at two locations: Joo Koon and Marina-Downtown.

Meanwhile, SMRT Buses Ltd will commence the night ODPB service from 4 January 2019, in one direction from the CBD to Bedok and Tampines via the Geylang corridor.

To use ODPB services, LTA said that commuters will need to download mobile applications – “BusGo” and “BusNow” – from the Apple App Store or Android Play Store.

According to the authority, the mobile app will enable a seamless customer experience by providing commuters with an e-boarding ticket after a successful booking has been made that has to be shown to the bus captain prior to fare payment, alerting the commuter when the bus is approaching the pick-up point and drop-off point, allowing group bookings of up to five passengers, as long as all passengers are travelling between the same pick-up and drop-off points, and enabling passengers to indicate whether wheelchair space onboard the bus is required when a booking is being made.

LTA also stated that in anticipation of lower demand, regular bus services will continue at lower frequencies during the ODPB trial. During the operating hours of the ODPB, Services 253, 255 and 257 in Joo Koon will operate at scheduled intervals of 30 minutes while Services 400 and 402 in Marina-Downtown will operate at scheduled intervals of 40 minutes.

It added that NightRider NR7 will be suspended during the trial period from 4 January to 15 June 2019. Commuters who prefer the fixed route services can take Nite Owl 2N and 4N to travel to Bedok, Tampines or Pasir Ris.

For a start, LTA said that commuters taking the weekday ODPB services will be charged a promotional fare based on a fixed distance of 3.2km, regardless of the actual distance travelled. Commuters taking the night ODPB service will pay a promotional flat fare of $4.50, the same as the existing fare of NightRider NR7. Commuters can pay their fares using CEPAS cards, supported bank cards or cash like any other public transport ride.

The authority stated that the trial will enable LTA to evaluate the feasibility of operating public bus services based on real-time commuter demand and along dynamic routes, instead of following fixed routes and pre-determined timetables.

During the six-month period, the authority may adjust parameters, such as the frequency of regular bus services and fares of the ODPB services, to better evaluate the ODPB concept.