Singapore bus services: Operating losses

A fare hike looks likely in Singapore next year because bus services are not profitable enough for the two state-linked public transport operators. They are making millions of dollars overall, but not as much as they used to earlier, according to their latest quarterly reports. In fact, SMRT, in its second quarter report dated October 31, says it is in a “net debt position”.

Both SBS Transit and SMRT reported higher bus operating losses despite an increase in the number of passengers.Continue Reading

Bus drivers’ ‘strike’ in Singapore

The bus drivers’ “strike” in Singapore today has been picked up by the foreign media. And no wonder. It’s so unusual. Strikes don’t occur in Singapore.The bus drivers employed by SMRT, which also runs taxis and commuter rail, are reported  to be from China. They are aggrieved because their Malaysian colleagues have been given bigger pay hikes, according to local media.

Protests and strikes are not unknown in China. But some on Twitter are expressing shock and anger at such an incident in Singapore. Some say they should be sent back to China. Many Singaporeans are unhappy about foreigners coming to work in Singapore. The National Transport Workers Union has urged the drivers to return to work.

Here’s the first overseas report I saw on Google News. It’s from the NZweek website.

SINGAPORE, Nov. 26 — More than 100 Chinese bus drivers working in Singapore took medical leave and refused to go to work on Monday over differences in a recent pay rise.

The online edition of local newspapers said the bus drivers employed by local public transport operator SMRT were unhappy that the Malaysian drivers received a pay increase of 275 Singapore dollars (225 U.S. dollars) with one month bonus pay, while the Chinese drivers got an increase of 75 Singapore dollars without any bonus.

And here’s what’s being reported and said on Twitter.

Bus drivers’ ‘strike’ in Singapore

Strikes are unknown in Singapore, but there’s always a first time. Two hundred bus drivers from China refused to go to work in Singapore on Monday because their Malaysian colleagues have been given bigger pay hikes.

Storified by Abhijit · Mon, Nov 26 2012 03:00:11

200 SMRT bus drivers refuse to go to work over pay issueAbout 200 SMRT bus drivers refused to go to work early Monday morning and instead assembled at their dormitory in Woodlands. The drivers,… ST: "200 SMRT bus drivers refuse to go to work over pay issue" Ah Gong don’t allow you to use the word "Strike ah?"Kinmun Lee
Dear Singapore mainstream media: can we just call a spade a spade and use the word ‘strike’ instead? Lee
BREAKING: Some 200 SMRT bus drivers have gone on strike over salaries. Stay tuned for updates.TODAY
Police stationed outside the Woodlands dormitory of SMRT bus drivers who went on strike over a salary dispute. Photo:
Wow!! PRC drivers working for SMRT go on strike! First time I have heard of strike in Singapore….Shiddu
Lol 200 PRC SMRT bus drivers went on strike today.. because they are unhappy of Malaysian bus drivers drawing higher salary -.-ⓙⓐⓥⓘⓝⓞⓛⓞⓖⓨ™
Seriously all those 200 china smrt drivers, think this is their own country is it? Any how protest.ヨナタン 乔纳森
200 SMRT bus drivers refuse to go to work over pay issue If we give in doesn’t this mean there will be more strikes?Jade Chen
Good on the SMRT bus drivers to stand up for what’s right instead of letting their employers have free rein. #SMRTstrikeKirsten Han
#SMRTstrike: Negotiations with SMRT management started around 4pm. Police are present for law & order and are not involved in negotiationsTODAY
JUST IN: National Transport Workers’ Union says Chinese SMRT bus workers are not union members, urge them to return to work immediatelyChannel NewsAsia
Still no comment from SMRT HR? I find it hard to believe that they base their wages on nationality. Is there more to the story? #busstrikeFaith Yoong
I think it is unfair for SMRT to differentiate benefits based on nationalities. But maybe there’s more to the story. Chong

MRT woes so unlike Singapore

Singapore MRT  新加坡地铁What’s happening to my beloved Singapore?

I was shocked by the news that hundreds of commuters were trapped underground with no light or ventilation for more than an hour before they heard from the train operator SMRT on Thursday when there was a breakdown on the north-south line.

I had always feared what might happen if something wrong at the Orchard MRT station, in the heart of the shopping district, and at interchanges where people change trains. Dhoby Ghaut, City Hall and Raffles Place seemed particularly vulnerable because they are so crowded.

But what I feared were terrorist attacks. Never did I expect services to break down like this in super-efficient Singapore. Continue Reading

Six rail journeys for every 10 bus rides in Singapore

Buses are still far more widely used than trains in Singapore though people are taking fewer bus rides than they did a year ago.

Ten trips were made on buses for every six railway journeys in September.

This becomes clear from the ridership figures of the two main transport operators, SBS Transit and SMRT.

Both are running up profits in what looks like a recession-proof business.


SBS daily bus ridership dropped by more than 60,000 — to 2,284,765 in September this year from 2,346,677 in September 2008 but was still more than the 2,200,560 logged in September 2007.

SBS daily rail ridership rose to 378,828 in September this year from 362,875 in September 2008 and 307,556 in September 2007. This includes trips on the North East Line (NEL), Sengkang Light Rapid Transit (LRT) and Punggol LRT.

SMRT monthly rail ridership is also up — 44,097,931 in September this year, from 42,890,883 in September 2008 and 37,591,642 in September 2007. The current figure includes trips on the newly opened Circle Line.

SMRT monthly bus ridership dropped by more than 70,000 — to 23,714,000 in September this year from 23,788,000 in September 2008, but was still more than the 22,496,000 logged in September 2007.

Based on SBS' daily ridership, monthly SBS bus rides totalled  68,542,950 and SBS rail journeys 11,364,840 in September this year.

Singapore: Total bus and rail ridership in September

Combined, SBS and SMRT bus trips totalled  92,256,950 and rail journeys 55,462,771 in September.

Public transport is recession-proof. Both the transport operators report higher profits.

Continue Reading