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Why bus contracting?

21 May 2014

Why bus contracting?

We first mooted the idea of contracting for bus services in the Land Transport Master Plan in 2008.

Since then, LTA has been studying this carefully, visiting cities with bus contracting models such as London and Australia. I’d also visited London and been briefed by officials at Transport for London and Metroline, one of many bus operators in London. I could see that the commuters there enjoy enhanced bus services over time under this bus contracting model because the operators need to compete for the right to run the bus services. This has kept them on their toes.

When I took over in 2011, my immediate priority was to expand bus capacity as quickly as possible. Hence the BSEP funded by the Government, which was introduced in 2012 and subsequently expanded to 1000 buses operated by the incumbent PTOs.

We are now ready to begin the process to move beyond BSEP and restructure our public bus industry to a “Government contracting model”. I believe this new model will enable us to respond more speedily to changes in ridership patterns and commuter needs and provide a better service to commuters. Potentially, more bus operating companies, including foreign ones, can enter our market and raise the level of competition.

Any changes to a system that we’ve been running for many years means that there will be adjustments needed at various levels and possibly some transitional issues. We will pay careful attention during implementation to minimize inconvenience to commuters. To achieve a smoother transition, we will be implementing bus contracting in phases over several years. Most importantly, we will see to it that the welfare and interests of bus workers are well taken care of.