This is an article contributed by Ling.
Previously, I’ve written an article about the 7 top-secret facts about Singapore buses you wouldn’t know. Things like bus conductors switching job scopes, what happens if the driver needs to go to the toilet and more.
Now, here’s part two of the interesting facts you might not know about buses in Singapore.
1. There are people whose jobs are to plan and analyse bus travelling times
Bus captains don’t have much control over traffic conditions and passenger activities. So if there’s an accident on the road and the bus is caught in the situation, the bus might be delayed.
There are actually people who review the running times given to bus captains – we call them the Planners and Schedulers.
They will analyse the data collected on the bus and further understand the challenges by speaking to bus captains rostered on these routes.
Sometimes, bus captains may be given an additional buffer in running times so they can fulfil their trips with greater certainty. Companies might incur more costs by doing so but it will provide better service reliability.
2. There are bus drivers who send bus drivers home…on a bus
There is a permanent group of bus captains who do just that. They ferry fellow bus captains home and back to work on the employee bus when there are no more trains or buses in service.
They usually start work at around midnight, sending the first wave of afternoon shift bus captains home, and repeating this at around 2 am.
After a short break, they will start fetching morning shift bus captains along a fixed route to the bus depot, performing two trips as well.
Bus captains have to reach the depot as early as 4 am as some buses start operating at 5:30 am!
3. There are drivers on standby in case a driver takes MC
When bus captains call in sick for the day, other experienced bus captains will stand in for them. They will always be rostered to standby at the bus depot and interchanges every day.
A typical standby bus captain would be someone who has good knowledge of many routes, may possibly be a mentor or an instructor, and is likely to be well-versed with other roles in the bus company. In one word, versatile!
4. Our buses come from Germany, UK and Sweden
They are mainly shipped over from Europe and the UK. From Germany, we have Mercedes-Benz’s Citaro and MAN buses.
We have Volvo and Scania from Sweden. And from the UK, we have ADL’s Enviro.
So next time before you board the bus, check out the logo at the front of the bus – you will immediately know where it came from!
Another interesting fact – most of our buses are propelled by diesel, but plans are afoot to bring in environmentally-friendly electric buses from 2018!
5. Driverless buses could become a reality in a couple of years.
It could become a reality within the next few years but we’ll still need bus captains for another decade or so.
We’ll need them to monitor how the bus responds, and take over the controls of the bus when necessary. They are honestly the best people to do this given how much they know about buses!
Nonetheless, this automation is expected to have a net positive impact on productivity in a small economy like ours.
6. Singapore buses don’t have glass panel protecting drivers because CCTV footage is clear and record sounds too
In some cities like London, buses come with a glass panel separating the bus captains from passengers. It’s especially so when bus captains are routinely subject to open aggression.
In Singapore, we hardly come across passengers who turn physically violent. That’s why there isn’t a need to install such panels to prevent our bus captains from being assaulted.
We have CCTVs in buses and the footages are very clear – we can even hear the conversations.
Passengers who abuse our bus captains can’t really get off scot-free. If you see any rowdy passengers who are creating trouble for the both the bus captain and passengers, don’t be afraid to call the police! Remember, safety comes first.
Alan Neo currently works at Tower Transit as a Scheduling Manager. He considers himself a bus enthusiast and has chalked up years of experience working in SBS Transit, SMRT, LTA, and also Kowloon Motor Bus in Hong Kong.
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