Taxpayers will be required to bear part of the cost to deploy a large fleet of additional buses that will ferry commuters inconvenienced by MRT station closures and the shorter MRT operating hours on the East-West line.
The MRT network closures were implemented in response to the train collision at Joo Koon station last week.
This is according to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) that shared with the Straits Times today that LTA and SMRT will foot the remaining costs for deploying additional buses.
The statutory board also revealed that buses deployed to provide service to commuters along the 19 stations affected by the shorter operating hours will charge equivalent train fares for travelling the distance between stations.
Buses bridging Joo Koon and Gul Circle stations – which are closed – will be free.
LTA will call upon SBS Transit and private bus operators to provide additional buses to help displaced commuters cope with the train network closures.
The decision to deploy a large fleet of bridging buses has drawn flak from some transport experts. National University of Singapore transport lecturer Lee Der-Horng said:
“During peak hours, one full-load train can have as many as 1,600 passengers, and it is two minutes per train. So an hourly load can hit 48,000. You need more than 500 buses, and that’s only for one direction.”
Another senior manager of a bus operator declined to be named but said:
“We may have some excess capacity at night, but in the morning, it will be quite tough. Even on Sundays, the trains are quite full. And if the bus services are not done well, there will be complaints. There will also be increased congestion on the road.”