Monday, October 10, 2016

A Look At The Our Bus Journey Carnival 2016

Singapore's bus industry is going through an important overhaul. This means the government will take over existing bus assets like buses and bus depots from existing operators to ensure a more reliable and affordable bus network. In order to educate the public about the overhaul, the Land Transport Authority or LTA, organised Our Bus Journey, a carnival about Singapore's buses in March 2016. Here's a look.

What is the Bus Contracting Model?

The overhaul is known as the Bus Contracting Model or BCM, where the government will takeover bus assets from existing operators. The government will also be roping in foreign operators to take over existing bus services and bus interchanges that operate from a government-built bus depot.

This also means shorter waiting times under new standards set by the LTA and even shorter during peak hours. Fare revenue will also now be collected by the government instead of the operators and buses will be repainted under a new common livery scheme.

What is Our Bus Journey Carnival?

Our Bus Journey Carnival aims to educate the public about the new BCM system in a new fun, interactive and informative way. There were exhibitions, bus simulators, stage games, booths by bus operators and bus enthusiasts along with double decker bus concepts for the future.

The carnival was held three times in March and April 2016 at three locations; Ngee Ann City, VivoCity and Toa Payoh HDB Hub and it's completely free.

Bright Red or Lush Green?

Back in January and February, the LTA conducted a poll for people to vote on a common colour scheme for all buses in the future. The choices were either Bright Red or Lush Green. During the campaign, some buses were temporarily wrapped in the two colour choices to give the public a sneak peek on how they would look like in the future.

Lush Green was the eventual winner after receiving the highest number of votes beating Bright Red at a narrow margin. The two futuristic concept double decker buses that were on display were already decked out in the Lush Green livery together with the SG BUS logo to represent the Singapore Bus.

A Peek Inside The Double Decker Bus Concepts

Two futuristic double decker bus concepts were being shown off to the public for the first time at the carnival. The concepts featured some features that will eventually make its way to existing and future public buses in the near future.

Some of these features include a dynamic TV screen that shows next stop information, USB charging ports, an extra staircase, headrests and much more. The public could experience these features first hand and provide feedback.

An Exhibition On The History of Buses

Another part of the carnival houses an exhibition on Singapore's bus history. Historical items and old bus paraphernalia like old red coin boxes, magnetic farecard machines (the predecessors to the existing EZ Link contactless system), old bus tickets, bus seats and bus stopping bells were featured here. This part of the exhibition will definitely invoke some nostalgic memories among some of the visitors.

Other bus items were also featured as well and they were mainly contributed by local bus enthusiasts. These include, die cast models of existing SBS and SMRT buses, old magnetic fare cards, license plates from old buses and even huge Remote Controlled (RC) buses made from scratch.

A Traditional STC Bus On Static Display

Outside the air-conditioned tentage was a traditional 1960s bus on display. This particular bus was formerly operated by STC or Singapore Traction Company which eventually combined with other bus companies to form the Singapore Bus Service (SBS) which is the present SBS Transit. This bus also had a special history as it was found abandoned at an industrial park before being refurbished to its current state, though its immovable.

Inside the bus, classic fixtures and signages were restored to its former glory and at the back, a projector screen showing the bus' restoration was played. It certainly was a very unique experience up onboard this classic bus.

SMRT Bus Simulator

An SMRT Bus Simulator was present at the carnival and it was one of the most popular features of the carnival with a long line formed up. The bus simulator aims to promote the SMRT bus driver training centre which recently opened in Jurong East.

The training centre has several simulators for trainee drivers to train under various road conditions and under different SMRT bus services before they go out on the roads on real training buses. As the job of a bus driver is considered 'unglamorous' to most people, SMRT hopes to attract new drivers with this new training centre.

Bus Souvenirs by Knackstop

A booth called Knackstop was set up for the public to purchase a variety of souvenirs and stationeries with public transport related designs and motifs. Things that were available include plastic files decorated with the Graciousness characters, a keychain that resembles an actual 'Bus Stopping' button and a Downtown Line train tissue box.

The items are also now available at the LTA headquarters at Hampshire Road near Little India and at all Museum Label stores at museums like the National Museum. Revenue collected will be given out to the needy in the form of public transport vouchers. So by buying all these goodies, you are doing good.

Booths by Public Transport Operators and Bus Enthusiasts

All four public transport operators had a booth at the carnival for members of the public to know more about their operations and to rope in new bus drivers. Each of the booth also had activities for the public to try their hand.

SMRT's booth had a touchscreen kiosk which lets employees scan their staff pass to view the jobs they need to fulfil throughout the day. Another touchscreen kiosk showcased the various bus services available at a particular bus interchange and the layout of the interchange so that commuters know how to get around. These kiosks are already in use at certain SMRT bus interchanges.

Another booth was by a group of bus enthusiasts which showcased their own bus-related collectibles and paraphernalia like die cast models, license plates, badges from scrapped buses and photos of buses taken by the group. To them, buses don't just transport from Point A to Point B, they're also assets with lots of historical value.


The Our Bus Journey carnival was certainly an eye-opening experience regarding Singapore's buses and the bus industry. It even got me more interested in the future and the history of Singapore's buses with its variety of exhibitions, booths and artefacts on display. With the Bus Contracting Model kicking in, Singaporeans can look forward to a more reliable, efficient and affordable bus service not far from now.

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