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Covid-19 bus interchanges cluster: Expect longer wait times for some bus services as infected drivers remain sidelined, says LTA

SINGAPORE — The rising number of public bus drivers infected by Covid-19 has resulted in an increase of waiting times of within five minutes for the majority of affected bus services, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and four bus operators said on Friday (Sept 10). A “very small number” of services have seen increases of more than 10 minutes between buses, they added.

To mitigate the impact of longer waiting times on commuters, bus operators will deploy more double-deck buses for services with "higher loading" when possible.

To mitigate the impact of longer waiting times on commuters, bus operators will deploy more double-deck buses for services with "higher loading" when possible.

SINGAPORE — The rising number of public bus drivers infected by Covid-19 has resulted in an increase of waiting times of within five minutes for the majority of affected bus services, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and four bus operators said on Friday (Sept 10). A “very small number” of services have seen increases of more than 10 minutes between buses, they added.

In a joint statement, LTA, Go-Ahead Singapore, SBS Transit, SMRT Buses and Tower Transit said that they are looking into measures such that essential services for commuters can continue. For example, bus drivers have been voluntarily returning to work on their days off.

“However, as these measures cannot fully make up for the loss in manpower, our bus operators have started lengthening headways for some services to ensure that our bus captains have enough rest time,” the statement said.

That being the case, commuters are advised to factor in longer waiting times for buses when planning their journeys, the transport authority and bus operators said.

“We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to commuters and seek commuters’ support and understanding as we make the adjustments.”

The statement did not mention which bus services were affected most by the Covid-19 situation and it did not say how many services are having frequency delays above 10 minutes, beyond saying it was a "very small number".

In response to a query from TODAY asking for more details, an LTA spokesperson said: "The situation is dynamic. This is especially so today, where the daily number of bus captains reporting to work vary due to Covid-19 and other reasons." 

Commuters are urged to use LTA’s MyTransport.SG mobile application for details on specific bus services.

To mitigate the impact of longer waiting times on commuters, LTA and the bus operators also announced that they will deploy more double-deck buses for services with "higher loading” when possible.

“This includes bus services that serve schools, as we expect increased ridership on these services when students return from their school holidays next week.

“LTA and the public transport operators will monitor the situation closely and make further adjustments as the situation evolves, including when more bus captains return to work.”

In a Facebook post, Mr Melvin Yong, the executive secretary of the National Transport Workers’ Union, wrote that his union has been working with LTA and the four operators to help affected drivers.

This assistance includes grocery deliveries to drivers on quarantine, and helping those on duty “adjust to the constant (and often last-minute) changes to the duty roster”.

He noted that some drivers have had to work overtime and on their rest days.

“While commuters may experience a longer waiting time for your bus, we hope everyone will continue to support our bus captains who are putting in the extra work and effort to minimise disruptions to commuters’ travels,” Mr Yong said. 

“During this challenging period, I hope that we can all continue to rally and support each other, especially our frontline heroes,” the assistant secretary-general of the labour movement added.

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