SINGAPORE — Commuters can expect longer waiting times for some bus services than others amid more COVID-19 cases in the community, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the four bus operators in Singapore said on Friday (10 September).
At present, the increase in waiting times for the majority of affected bus services is within five minutes, with a very small number of services seeing increases in waiting times greater than 10 minutes, the LTA, SBS Transit, SMRT Buses, Tower Transit and Go-Ahead Singapore said in a joint statement.
“In view of the exponentially rising wave of COVID-19 infection in the community, LTA and the four public transport operators are looking into measures to ensure the continued provision of essential services to commuters, beyond enhancing the Safe Management Measures to protect bus captains,” the statement said.
The statement comes after staff working at eight bus interchanges have been confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 in recent weeks, including those at the Tampines, Boon Lay, Toa Payoh, Clementi, Jurong East, Sengkang, Punggol and Bishan bus interchanges.
There were a total of 537 cases in the eight interchange clusters in the last COVID-19 report issued by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday that showed all the active clusters in Singapore, before MOH changed its reporting format the next day.
On Thursday, MOH reported five large active bus interchange clusters with 16 new cases highlighted in its revamped daily COVID-19 report – Toa Payoh, Tampines, Boon Lay, Punggol and Jurong East – bringing the total at these clusters to 471 cases.
Most of the bus captains are vaccinated, while those infected are asymptomatic or showing mild symptoms. However, they have to observe the medical protocol to be isolated for a full recovery, the statement added.
The operators and bus captains have been doing their utmost to maintain current service levels including bus captains voluntarily coming back during their off-days.
“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. Commuters are advised to factor in longer waiting times for buses when planning their journeys.”
To reduce the impact on commuters, LTA and the operators will also implement measures such as deploying more double-deck buses for services with higher loading when possible. This includes bus services that serve schools, as ridership is expected to rise on these services when students return from their school holidays next week.
“We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to commuters and seek commuters’ support and understanding as we make the adjustments.”
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