3-door bus trial to speed up passenger flow begins

3-door bus trial to speed  up passenger flow begins
Designed by land systems and specialty vehicles firm ST Kinetics, the buses will also feature user-friendly elements including USB ports, wheelchair spaces and a passenger information display system to provide travel information in real time. Photo: Kenneth Cheng/TODAY
Published: 10:00 AM, March 13, 2017
Updated: 11:47 PM, March 13, 2017

SINGAPORE — Two buses with three doors — an entrance and two exits — will be tested on the roads here in the coming months to see if this new feature will speed up passenger flow. 

Besides these, several other features that benefit both commuters and drivers will also be part of the six-month study, including a vibrating seat to keep sleepy drivers awake, USB ports for passengers to charge their mobile devices, and panels showing information on the current and upcoming bus-stops.  

The first bus, a double-decker, ferried its first passengers on Monday morning (March 13) on Service No 143. Run by bus operator Tower Transit Singapore, it plies between Jurong East and Toa Payoh, winding through HarbourFront, Chinatown and Orchard Road.

A second bus, a single-decker with three doors, will hit the road in the second quarter of this year. It will be run by SMRT Buses, and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will announce the service at a later date. 

Both buses — designed by land system and specialty vehicle firm ST Kinetics — are fitted with a fatigue detection system: By examining the speed of eyelid movement and facial expression of the driver, it will vibrate the driver’s seat to keep him or her from dozing off at the wheel. 

Another system onboard, called Mobileye, alerts drivers to blind spots, turning up visual and audio warnings in the driver’s cabin. 

For commuters, there will be more standing room and fewer seats on the three-door double-decker bus. It has 80 seats — five fewer than a regular double-decker from the same manufacturer — but it can accommodate 139 passengers, slightly more than a regular double-decker’s 135.

When alighting, upper-deck passengers use a second staircase near the back of the bus that leads them out through the third door. On current double-decker buses, passengers go up to and get down from the upper deck via the same staircase, which could lead to bottlenecks. 

Deploying the two buses on the two routes will allow the LTA to canvass feedback from a diverse range of commuters, since they will zip through both residential and commercial areas. 

At an inaugural bus carnival last year, public feedback was sought on new features for buses. Nearly nine in 10 of the 22,000 respondents were keen to have a third door on buses. More than 95 per cent of them said that a second staircase on double-deck buses would be useful.

Mr Yeo Teck Guan, LTA’s group director of public transport, said that the study would allow the authority to examine how the buses adapt to existing infrastructure such as bus-stops and bus-bays, and observe commuter flow.

“The review of public bus design is a key part of making public transport a choice mode of transport as we move towards a car-lite society,” he said.

Bus enthusiast Cheung Ho Hoi, 15, was the first to board the new-look bus at the Jurong East bus interchange at about 11.30am on Monday. Noting that the separate staircases shortened the wait to go up to the upper deck, the Secondary 4 student said: “It allows the bus to leave the bus-stop quicker.”

Agreeing, commuter Hashim Ali, 55, said: “It’s a better system … (that) won’t disrupt the flow. They should’ve done this a long, long time ago.” 

The public are encouraged to give feedback on the three-door buses at