Shuttle Buses To Stand In For MRT In December 2017

On Tuesday (21 Nov), the LTA announced that 19 MRT Stations will be closed on selected days in December to allow time for engineering works.

We even made a neat little infographic to help you better understand, check it out:

But back to the point: LTA also said that parallel shuttle buses will be provided along MRT stations during the affected hours as well.

Which got us wondering — are the buses reliable as a stand-in for the trains in times of disruption?

Put on your thinking caps, because we’re about to find out.

Maximum capacity of trains and buses

In order begin, we would first need to determine the maximum capacity of a NSEWL train and SMRT bus.

According to a written answer by the Ministry of Transport in 2010, then-Transport Minister Raymond Lim stated that the train sees roughly 1,450 to 1,500 commuters during the morning peak periods.

For the sake of this article, we will be using 1,500 as the max capacity of the train.

Over at SMRT’s blog, they mentioned that their high capacity buses are able to hold roughly 130 – 149 passengers.

To make calculations simpler, we’ll be assuming the highest capacity for the buses and using 150 as their maximum capacity.

Now that we have the numbers, let’s get crunching.

Comparison between trains and buses

Looking at the figures, it can be said that one full NSEWL train is the equivalent to ten SMRT buses — meaning that during disruptions, 10 buses are required for every train affected.

Based on that figure alone, it’s pretty clear that buses don’t come close to the trains at all — but let’s give you more statistics, because they’re fun.

According to TODAY Online, shuttle buses during the MRT stations’ closure will arrive at frequencies of three to five minutes during peak hours.

Assuming that one does indeed come every three minutes, there will be a total of 20 buses on the roads every hour.

This amounts to 3,000 passengers per hour or rather, two MRT trains worth of commuters.

This is in contrast to the MRT’s 30,000 per hour.


Putting this into perspective — in order to match the MRT’s capacity, a total of 200 buses are required every hour.


And these figures assume buses to be at their most punctual and maximum capacity during every single trip. We still haven’t taken into account external factors such as human and road traffic.

Trains win hands down

In other words, there’s no way the buses are able to even come close to doing what the MRT does.

If anything, this just shows how essential the trains are for Singapore to function daily.

Without it, we’d plunge into chaos.

And so we conclude our article with a short message to current Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan — we hope you’re right when you say that the trains will once again become world-class come 2018.

Featured image from SMRT and Facebook