Singapore to trial on-demand bus service

Bus commuters are currently using apps such as MyTransport to plan their journey.

Bus commuters have always been dependent on fixed bus routes and timings. What if you can customise your own time and route? That’d be a bus commuter’s dream come true.

Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) is calling for a tender to seek proposals to trial on-demand, dynamically-routed public bus services.

According to the LTA press release, the trial will enable LTA to evaluate the feasibility of operating public bus services based on real-time commuter demand and along dynamic routes, instead of plying on the basis of pre-determined and fixed timetables and routes. Through a mobile application, commuters will be able to request pick-ups and drop-offs at any bus stop within a defined operating area.

The objective is to deliver better and more customised bus services, with possibly shorter wait time. Instead of being able to alight only at a bus stop along a pre-determined, fixed route, he or she can ask to alight at any bus stop in the operating area, making the commute more seamless and convenient than today.

“Data analytics and mobile application technology have revolutionised the way that we travel, as we have seen in the success of ride-hailing. This tender will allow us to explore if such technology could also be applied to public bus services to deliver better services to commuters, and also to optimise precious resources,” said Yeo Teck Guan, Group Director, Public Transport of LTA.

In addition to enhancing the commute, the trial will help LTA assess if such a form of public bus services could optimise resources and operating cost in areas and periods with low ridership.

LTA has identified three areas for the trial — Joo Koon, Punggol North/West and Shenton Way/Marina South. These areas are picked because of low demand during off-peak hours with potential of better serving commuters if the services are converted into on-demand bus services.

Tender participants are also invited to submit proposals for on-demand, dynamically-routed night bus services, in place of existing night bus services with fixed timetables and routes.

The tender will comprise two phases — a modelling and simulation phase in Q4 this year followed by incumbent public bus operators testing and calibrating software and hardware solutions in Q2 next year. Actual trial should begin in the second half of 2018.