The MRT has always taken centre stage in Singapore’s public transport landscape, especially with the expansion of the network in recent years and the frequent breakdowns.
But for commuters who use the bus network, changes have been quietly taking place, too. We’ve seen signboards being put up at certain prominent bus stops informing commuters when their bus is going to arrive. And last year Tower Transit appeared on the scene and took over some bus routes plying the West side of the island.
We’re all for making changes in the name of improving public transport. But when Tower Transit recently announced that they were going to release mood-enhancing perfumes on some of their buses, we had a forehead-slapping moment. It’s just one of several attempts to improve the commuter experience that have been rolled out in the past few years. Here are some of the most eyebrow-raising initiatives bus commuters have had to/will have to put up with.
For a few dark years in Singapore’s history, SBS bus commuters were force-fed reruns of lame TV programmes on their commute. Unable to sleep, text message or zone out in peace, they had to endure long rides with the sound of canned laughter from lame sitcoms ringing in their ears.
Such was the scourge unleashed by TVMobile, which essentially consisted of TV screens being mounted on buses, usually in the front of the bus and just behind the back door.
You know that sinking feeling you get when you go to a friend or relative’s home, everyone is watching some awful Channel 5 programme and you have no choice but to sit there and stare at the screen too? That was many people’s daily commute.
So we were all relieved to hear that that TVMobile was discontinued in 2010.
Beginning in March 2017, Tower Transit will be releasing what they refer to as “signature scents” on bus services 66, 97 and 106. These scents are purportedly designed to be pleasant enough to make commutes more bearable, and to battle the symptoms of motion sickness.
Now, we’re not too sure whether commuters are going to feel like they’re in a luxury spa, or whether this scent will be a nauseating addition to the many competing perfumes of fellow commuters. But this sounds like a gratuitous enhancement that’s more of a branding exercise than a sincere attempt to improve the commuter experience.
As a smartphone-obsessed nation, there’s nothing worse than discovering your device is out of battery and you’re still stuck on the bus for another 35 minutes with nothing to do but stare at the beehive of the auntie seated in front of you.
Ten double decker buses on services 61, 67, 985, 963 and 969 have been equipped with USB charging ports. Because the chargers are located close to the inner seats, they also sneakily encourage commuters to move in, instead of sitting on the outer seat to discourage others from sitting beside them.
Some commuters think the USB charging ports are a frivolous addition and that most people have their own power banks anyway. Still, judging by the fact that quite a few commuters actually do use these sockets to charge their devices, it seems they’re a welcome addition. The charging stations that were added to this bus stop in Jurong have proved a bit hit, too.
Ah, now we’re talking. Free wifi is something Singaporeans can appreciate anywhere. Commuters who take bus service 176 can log in to Wireless@SG on their commutes, as well as M1 wifi for those who are M1 Subscribers.
This enables commuters to stream videos on their iPads as they commute to and from work without having to drain their own data allocation. This is one thing we’d really like to see on more buses, as well as the MRT network.
Which of the above initiatives have you experienced and what did you think of them? Share your views in the comments!