LTA Says Operators Doing Utmost To Maintain Current Service Levels

If you take the bus frequently, you might have noticed that your neighbourhood shuttle seems to take longer to arrive than usual.

That might be because of Covid-19, which is still spreading among staff at bus interchanges.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has thus told the public to expect a longer wait for some bus services.

This is due to infected drivers having to be isolated and causing a loss of manpower.

Up to 5-min increase in waiting time for most buses

The news was shared in a Facebook post by the LTA on Friday (10 Sep), as well as a longer joint statement together with public transport operators (PTOs).

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As for how long we might expect to wait, they said commuters might wait longer for certain bus services compared with others.

For most of the affected buses, we’re advised to prepare for up to 5 mins longer waiting time.

However, those taking “a very small number” of bus services could wait for more than 10 mins longer.

LTA didn’t specify which bus services would take longer to arrive.

The news comes 1 week after LTA warned of delays at bus interchanges.

Up To 10-Minute Delay At Bus Interchanges Possible As More Drivers Test Covid-19 Positive

‘Lengthening headways’ for some services

LTA also explained why we can expect longer waiting times.

It said the 4 PTOs – Go-Ahead Singapore, SBS Transit, SMRT Buses and Tower Transit – have started “lengthening headways” for some services.

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This is to ensure bus captains have enough rest time.

Bus captains coming back on days off

On their part, bus captains who haven’t been infected have been doing their utmost to maintain service levels amid the loss in manpower.

This includes voluntarily coming back to work on their days off, LTA said.

However, this still can’t make up for the manpower loss.

626 bus interchange staff infected so far

To get a sense of how many transport staff are down, let’s take a look at the number of cases in the clusters.

In the latest situation update on Friday (10 Sep), the Ministry of Health (MOH) said 5 of the 8 existing bus interchange clusters had grown.

The largest was Toa Payoh Bus Interchange, with 203 cases, followed by Boon Lay Bus Interchange (165).

10 Sep update:

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On Thursday (9 Sep), the clusters at Punggol and Jurong East interchanges grew to 41 and 43 cases respectively.

9 Sep update:

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Sengkang Bus Interchange was last mentioned in the MOH update on Tuesday (7 Sep). It had 28 cases.

7 Sep update:

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The figures mean that as of Friday (10 Sep), there are 626 cases in total linked to the 8 bus interchange clusters in Singapore.

Although most of the drivers are vaccinated and showing mild or no symptoms, they must still be isolated, LTA said.

Measures to help commuters

LTA and PTOs will introduce measures to help commuters cut their waiting times.

For examples, more double-decker buses will be deployed, when possible, for services with high capacity.

That includes services that run past school areas – they’re expected to see more passengers after the school holidays.

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LTA and the PTOs will monitor the situation closely and make adjustments according to the changing situation.

As announced on 2 Sep, PTOs and the National Transport Workers’ Union are already enhancing safe management measures (SMMs) at interchanges to reduce workplace transmission, including:

  • Segregating staff resting and dining areas at bus interchanges
  • Single seating at dining areas
  • Doubling frequency of cleaning of high touch points at staff areas to twice every hour
  • Accelerating ongoing installation of HEPA air purifiers at enclosed working areas
  • Setting up physical separators at designated smoking areas.

Not an unexpected development

Though bus users will be frustrated at the longer wait, it’s not surprising, considering how many transport staff are down with Covid-19.

As Covid-19 community cases rise exponentially, we can unfortunately expect to be inconvenienced in more ways as more and more people need to be isolated.

Let’s hope the number of cases plateaus soon.

MS News wishes the infected transport staff a quick recovery.

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Featured image adapted from MS News.