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SBS Transit lands Bukit Merah bus contract

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[SINGAPORE] SBS Transit, Singapore's largest bus operator, has clinched a $472 million deal to run 18 services in the Bukit Merah area, with three being cross-border routes into Johor Baru.

The listed company, part of transport giant ComfortDelGro Corp, beat five other bidders in a competitive tender called by the Land Transport Authority last April (17). They were Singapore rail operator SMRT, the UK's Go-Ahead and Australia's Tower Transit - which operate existing bus routes here - as well as Chinese operator Shenzhen Bus Group and a consortium between Jiaoyun Group and Travel GSH.

Shenzhen Bus, a first time bidder, operates the world's first all-electric fleet in the Chinese city. Travel GSH is a local tour bus operator, while the Jiaoyun Group offers transportation services in China.

The LTA on Friday (Feb 23) announced the results of the latest tender - its fourth since the government embraced the bus contracting model in 2014."SBST was awarded the contract because its proposal demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of the operational considerations, and strong competence in bus service scheduling that would enable the optimal deployment of buses and resources," the LTA said in a statement.

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The Bukit Merah package involves 18 routes, with buses housed at the new Ulu Pandan Bus Depot in Boon Lay which will be completed this year.

It is also the first of "negotiated" packages with incumbent operators. In September 2016, the LTA agreed to pay SBS Transit and SMRT about $7.2 billion in annual instalments, to allow them to run 11 route packages for between two and 10 years as part of a "gradual, phased approach" to competitive tendering.

The fourth bus package will serve Bukit Merah and the central business district, with buses plying Harbourfront and Jurong East interchanges as well as Buona Vista, Marina Centre, New Bridge Road, Queen Street and Shenton Way bus terminals.

The package will start with about 340 buses which will grow to about 390 buses by the end of the five-year contract.

Of the 18 services, 170 and 170A from Queen Street bus terminal and 160 from Jurong East's temporary interchange are cross-border services to Johor Baru.

The services will be progressively implemented in four tranches from the fourth quarter of this year.

It was the second win for SBS Transit, which clinched the 26-route Seletar package with a bid of $480.3 million last April (17). On March 18 and 25 (2018), SBS Transit will take over 12 bus routes from SMRT. SBS Transit is the incumbent operator for the other 14 bus routes in the Seletar package.

The first two bus packages - Bulim and Loyang - were won by Anglo-Australian operator Tower Transit and British firm Go-Ahead for $556 million and $497.7 million respectively.

THE STRAITS TIMES

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