S’pore buses have ‘black box’ type device that tracks speed, braking & almost everything

Gone are the days when a bus driver just gets behind the wheel and zips away.

Joshua Lee | October 27, 2021, 11:48 PM

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Looks like buses are upping their technological game.

Local bus operator SBS Transit recently posted about its telematics system, which goes by the name SAGE (SAfe, Green and Eco).

It's a pretty nifty bit of technology, capable of monitoring different aspects of the bus driver's driving ability, for instance, the amount of revving, the braking, the acceleration, the speed, the amount of time spent idling, and turning corners.

Credit: SBS Transit/Facebook

As SBS Transit pointed out in its Facebook post, some aspect of bus driving, like excessive revving and braking, might make for an uncomfortable ride, which makes tracking them all the more important.

Better driving also helps to improve fuel consumption and save on fuel costs in the long run.

For SBS Transit bus drivers specifically, there is an app which they can use to track their driving data from SAGE.

The app tells them which areas they should improve on.

Credit: SBS Transit/Facebook

The use of telematics is neither new, nor confined to SBS Transit.

Tower Transit installed an in-vehicle telematics device on the dashboard of all its buses in 2016.

These devices connect to RFID tags issued to each bus driver and alert them to instances of terrible driving by flashing green, amber, or red.

Tower Transit also started a rewards scheme for its drivers back in 2016, issuing each driver a point for every incident recorded on the telematics device. Those who scored 20 points or lower in a month would get a S$130 bonus. Those who attained more than 50 points were sent for a refresher course.

SMRT was also an early adopter of telematics, implementing it in its fleet of buses in 2014.

Aside from functioning as a speed warning device, the use of telematics in SMRT buses allowed the operator's Bus Operations Control Centre to monitor the exact location of each bus and the distance between buses.

This enabled the operator to better control bus schedules and reduce bus bunching (when multiple buses from the same service arrive at a bus stop at the same time).

Telematics can also play a more predictive role in helping operators identify problems early on.

Over at Go-Ahead Singapore, the bus operator uses a custom-built telematics system which was co-developed by Singtel. This system was implemented fleet-wide in 2020.

Go-Ahead Singapore's telematics system monitors key real time data like tyre pressure and engine temperature.

According to The Straits Times, using tyre pressure sensors instead of a manual pressure gauge has saved the operator's maintenance workers three hours per day.

Aside from telematics, buses in Singapore are also equipped with a variety of technological features like an Anti-Fatigue System to detect driver fatigue and a Collision Warning System.

Very hi-tech indeed.

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Top images: Joshua Lee, SBS Transit.