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Two firms that won initial tender snag S$2.26m LTA contract for 2nd phase of on-demand bus project

THE Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Monday it had awarded a contract worth S$2.26 million to Via Transportation and Ministry of Movement for the second phase of its on-demand public bus services project.

Both firms won the initial tender of nearly half a million dollars in February to develop a dynamic routing and matching algorithm for the pilot project.

LTA also said a six-month trial of on-demand public bus services will begin in December, during which commuters will be able to request for pick-ups and drop-offs at any bus stop within an area through a mobile app.

LTA said the trial "will start with selected services with low travel demand during off-peak hours", adding that details such as locations and operating hours will be announced later.

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Regular buses will still be running on the routes selected, but at lower frequencies.

In the second phase of the project, LTA said Via Transportation and Ministry of Movement will develop hardware and software solutions such as mobile apps for commuters and bus captains, back-end tools required to monitor services during the trial, as well as operational and maintenance support for the system.

They will also train bus captains and support staff to operate the system.

According to LTA, the earlier algorithm developed by both firms had demonstrated the system can "optimise limited resources while offering more seamless and convenient bus journeys for commuters in areas or during timings with low or unpredictable ridership".

LTA said Ministry of Movement and Via have proven track records in developing on-demand ride-sharing applications and operating real-time, dynamically routed bus services.

Via is currently operating on-demand bus services in cities such as Chicago and New York, while Ministry of Movement is a local start-up that commenced operations in Singapore in August 2016.

Globally, on-demand bus services have been implemented in places such as Helsinki in Finland, Chicago, Minnesota, New York and Washington DC in the US as well as New South Wales in Australia.