Bus interchange clusters: Longer waiting time for buses expected due to bus captain shortage

The increases in waiting time are mostly below five minutes, with a few stretching to more than 10 minutes.

Joshua Lee | September 11, 2021, 10:04 AM

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Bus commuters will have to face longer waiting times for some bus services in the foreseeable future, announced the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and public transport operators in a joint statement.

The recent eruption of Covid-19 clusters at bus interchanges has affected many bus drivers.

While the infected bus captains are asymptomatic or showing mild symptoms, they still have to observe the necessary medical protocol and be isolated for a full recovery.

"Our public transport operators and bus captains have been doing their utmost to maintain current service levels. This includes bus captains voluntarily coming back during their off-days," said the LTA.

However, these measures are not enough to make up for the loss in manpower.

As a result, the public transport operators have started lengthening the time between buses to ensure that their bus captains have enough rest time.

The increase in waiting times for the majority of affected bus services is within five minutes.

A "very small" number of services will see increases in waiting time that will be longer than 10 minutes.

LTA said that more double-deck buses will be deployed for services with higher loading, when possible. This includes bus services that serve schools, as the agency expects increased ridership on these services when students return from their term break next week.

LTA and the public transport operators will monitor the situation closely and make further adjustments as the situation evolves, including when more bus captains return to work.

"We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to commuters and seek commuters’ support and understanding as we make the adjustments," said LTA.

Separately, the National Transport Workers' Union has been offering assistance to the hundreds of affected bus captains who have been placed on quarantine orders and stay home notices.

This includes assisting with the delivery of groceries to those on stay home notice, and helping on-duty bus captains adjust to changes to the duty roster.

Top image: Joshua Lee.

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