TL;DR – Tower Transit has built a strong Singaporean core in its team of Bus Captains.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has awarded Tower Transit Singapore (TTS) two bus contracts consisting of a total of 56 bus routes at S$1.03 billion. Both contracts will commence from the second quarter of next year.
If you don’t already know, TTS is Singapore’s third public bus operator which entered the bus industry in 2016 through the Bus Contracting Model (BCM) and has been operating buses here since May 2016.
The two contracts are the Bulim and Sembawang-Yishun Bus Packages. TTS will continue to operate the 29 bus routes under the Bulim package, which it currently operates, and will also continue to manage the Jurong East and Bukit Batok bus interchanges. There will be a total of 320 buses in this contract.
The contract duration is five years, following which, it could be extended by two years for good performance, as seen in the recent award of a two-year extension for the Loyang bus contract to Go-Ahead Singapore for its good performance.
The Sembawang-Yishun bus contract which consists of 27 bus routes is currently operated by SMRT Buses.
TTS will take over the operations of these routes from SMRT Buses in September 2021, according to TTS’ parent company SeaLink Travel Group. 400 buses will operate on these routes, originating from Sembawang, Yishun bus interchanges, as well as a few from Woodlands interchange.
Tower Transit’s good performance
According to LTA’s official statement, TTS was awarded the contract to operate the 56 routes as it received a high score for operational conditions.
TTS has demonstrated the following which adds up to its high score:
- Strong competence in bus scheduling;
- Hired persons-with-disabilities as customer experience officers;
- Building a strong Singaporean core workforce and;
- Working with the Public Transport Council and social service agencies to help the elderly and less mobile passengers get around easily on public buses.
Ensuring affected employees a smooth transition
SMRT bus employees who will be affected by the takeover of bus routes under the Sembawang-Yishun package will be protected by the Guidelines on Good Employment Practices in the Public Bus Industry.
All employees affected by new tender or change in bus service contracts must be offered a job by the incoming operator, at employment terms that are not worse-off than what they have been enjoying before the transition.
In a Facebook post, Labour MP Melvin Yong, who is also the Executive-Secretary of the National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU) assured that NTWU will work closely with SMRT and TTS to ensure that all affected workers will have a smooth transition.
He added that the union is committed to working with the different public transport operators to take care of our bus workers and create a safe working environment for them.
A more competitive bus industry
Since the transition to the BCM in 2016, there has been keen interest and competition in the industry to enhance service levels.
Go-Ahead Singapore, which is the fourth public bus operator here, entered the bus industry in September 2016 and is currently operating bus routes under the Loyang Bus Package.
Together with TTS, both companies have leveled up the skills and competencies of bus employees, and workers have seen an increase in their salaries and enjoy better working conditions. TTS has also introduced new technology in the workplace to help employees with better fleet management and maintenance.
Safeguarding our transport workers’ welfare: NTWU and the Bus Contracting Model
The next bus contract to be up for tender will be the Sengkang-Hougang contract, which comprises a total of 30 bus routes currently operated by SBS Transit (29 routes) and SMRT Buses (1 route).