TL;DR – Say hello to these new three-door buses when you see them on our roads soon!
A fleet of 50 double decker buses equipped with three doors and two staircases will hit the roads starting from the end of this month.
These 50 buses from ST Engineering Land Systems (STELS) are part of a batch of 100 three-door double-decker buses that were procured by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in a tender in May 2018. The other 50 buses will be supplied by Alexander Dennis (Singapore) Services Pte Ltd and will debut in the second quarter of this year.
LTA purchased the buses following successful passenger service trials of two of such buses in 2017 and 2018 – a double-decker version on Tower Transit Bus Service 143 and a single-decker version on SMRT Bus Services 190 and 901.
Prior to the award of the tender, the two companies have supplied buses to SMRT as part of the operator’s fleet renewal and expansion program.
These new buses will allow for better passenger exchanges with passengers using the first staircase to proceed to the upper deck and alighting passengers using the second staircase to exit the bus.
The third door allows passengers at the rear of the bus to alight smoothly without having to make their way to the middle of the bus and hence, reducing the bottlenecks that passengers presently experience when onboard double-decker buses.
Apart from additional staircases and exit doors, the new buses will also be equipped with features such as passenger information display screens that indicate route information, onboard audio announcements to inform visually-impaired passengers of their upcoming stops, making bus rides easier for them.
The centre pole that used to be at the front door of the bus will also be removed to make boarding easier for parents with baby strollers.
The buses will have two demarcated spaces for passengers in wheelchairs and parents with baby strollers. Passengers in wheelchairs will continue to board and alight from the middle door of the bus, assisted by the bus captain.
These buses will also be the last batch of diesel-powered buses to be procured by the LTA.
New buses, new opportunities for workers
In the Ministry of Transport’s Committee of Supply (COS) 2020 speech, Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said that the Government has committed to a 100% clean energy bus fleet by 2040 and all buses purchased henceforth will be either hybrid or fully-electric buses, in an effort to reduce carbon emissions.
He also noted that the total transformation to electric vehicles (EVs) will be an extensive one and will require a change in consumer behaviours, adding that more electric vehicle charging stations will be rolled out by 2030, up from 1600 today to 28,000.
Apart from EVs, Dr Janil said that trials for autonomous vehicles (AVs) are picking up the pace and the LTA, together with the National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU) and the four public bus operators, will develop a training and skills development plan to prepare bus captains for the eventual deployment of autonomous buses.
These initiatives will pave the way for job upskilling, which means better salaries for bus captains!