Bid for Singapore

By: Amie Hickland

An established Australian operator is hoping to expand operations into Singapore soon

A New South Wales operator is hoping to expand operations into Singapore later this year, following a call from the Singapore Government to operate 26 bus services under a new contracting model.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) called for tenders from operators to run the services from 2016, according to a statement released on the website.

With the transition to the Government Contracting Model, the Government intends to raise bus service levels above those of the expanded Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP).

As part of the tender, services will have scheduled headways of no more than 15 minutes for both directions during the morning and evening peak periods, with at least half of them having even shorter scheduled headways of no more than 10 minutes.

Busways, based in New South Wales, is one of eleven operators who have submitted their bid to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) for the first tender under Singapore's new bus contracting model, according to a statement on the Busways website.

The operators include SBS Transit, SMRT Buses, Aedge Holding, Woodlands Transport Holdings, Keolis, Go-Ahead Group, Tower Transit Group, RATP Dev Transdev Asia Holding, Jinan Public Transport Corporation and a joint bid between Jiaoyun Group and Travel GSH.

 "We’re always interested in opportunities where we can operate high quality and effective bus services and are grateful to the Singaporean Government for giving us the opportunity to submit a tender option that may appeal to them," says the statement.

"If successful, we look forward to applying our experience and service philosophy in a new operating environment, in what will be our first expansion outside of Australia.

"From our research into the Bulim Bus Package, the LTA is an authority we believe we could work effectively with.

"We’re interested in building a long-term presence in Singapore that puts the same emphasis on people and quality as our Australian business."

The statement says Busways has invested time and resources over the tender period into understanding the needs of key stakeholders in Singapore, including bus captains and passengers, and have made every effort to put forward a proposal that will see improvements for all stakeholders.

"Our interest in Singapore has been motivated by transport challenges that align well with Busways’ core strengths," it reads.

"Busways has been owned and operated by the Rowe family for 73 years and as a result, we have the freedom to operate Busways in an effective manner, allowing us to focus on delivering reliable, customer-centric bus services.

"We have an excellent reputation for being accountable for the commitments we make and investing for the long term benefit of the communities we serve."

If successful, Busways is prepared to invest all the financial and human capital that is required to ensure we provide high quality bus services to all Singaporeans.

"We expect that, over time, Singaporean bus captains will move into non-driving management roles, empowered to manage the Busways Singapore operations with support from the Australian team, just as we have always operated in Australia."

The 26 bus services will operate from three bus interchanges and be supported by the new Bulim Bus Depot, according to the LTA statement.

The tender package may start with about 380 buses leased to the successful tenderer in 2016, before growing to about 500 buses in 2021, in tandem with expected ridership growth and the development of Bukit Batok West and Tengah New Town.

The contract is for a term of five years and if the successful operator performs well LTA can grant an extension to the term of another two years.

Busways is the only Australian company bidding on the tender, although Australia Transit System’s London-based operation Tower Transit has shown interest.

"Tower Transit, the London-based spin-off from Australia’s Transit Systems, has submitted a tender to the Land and Transport Authority in Singapore as part of their bus contracting process," says a spokesperson.

"Tower Transit has established a dedicated office and on the ground team in Singapore."

The successful bidder should be announced in May 2015.

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