Thursday, October 28, 2010

Our Buses

[One tourist complain, and two letters with suggestions! Helpful!]

Oct 29, 2010

Make bus rides friendlier

MRS HYUNHEE Kim's suggestion to equip buses with route maps and a system to announce the name of the next bus stop is indeed useful ('Lost after taking the bus'; Tuesday).

Only last week, my nephew was in a similar situation. He studies at the Nanyang Technological University and came to visit me. I gave him detailed instructions to alight at the bus stop near Block 610 Clementi West.

But he missed it and had to alight at the next bus stop near the National University of Singapore. Fortunately, he had his mobile phone with him and after more instructions, got to my home 30 minutes later.

I have noticed that some of the buses operated by SMRT display signs of the next bus stop coming up. But they are ineffective when names of bus stops are similar. Also, the entire fleet of buses here will have to be upgraded to make a difference.

I have a few suggestions to solve the problem:
- Assign a unique identification (ID) to each bus stop and display it prominently so that it is visible from a distance of 200m to 300m whether it is day or night.
- The bus guide and tourist maps should indicate the bus stop ID in addition to the bus stop's name.
- The ID system could also be used by Internet- and mobile-based services.

Such a standardised system will go a long way in making our public transport system more friendly for commuters.

Prem Prakash

[Unique ID for every bus-stop that can be see 300m away? UGLY! As it is there are already too many signs and advertisements littering our landscape. Most bus services cater to the resident population and they learn the bus routes after the initial period. Tourist tend to stay within the tourist belt or to visit specific attractions. The next letter is more practical.]

Tourists may have other options

MRS HYUNHEE Kim's letter ('Lost after taking the bus'; Tuesday) brought back memories of an almost similar situation that my family and I experienced in South Korea.

We had found a place of interest online which had instructions on how to get there via public transport.

The first part of the journey was smooth enough as it was by the Metro; but the second part was by bus. We tried to follow the online instructions which was to board a green bus with a certain number.

There were no instructions on when to get off, and we could not understand anything from the bus-stand signs as English is not widely used there.

Nevertheless, we boarded the bus and travelled a distance before we decided to ask a fellow passenger who, to our relief, spoke some English.

Like Seoul, I believe Singapore's public bus network is designed to provide cost-efficient transportation for a large portion of the population and caters less to tourists who are less familiar with the routes.

Places of interest are usually accessible via the tourist transport network and these would have all the sophisticated tools to get first-time visitors to where they want to go.

As new families get to know Singapore better, they could use other means, for example, smart phones with locator or map tools. Or, they could seek assistance from fellow passengers.

Donovan Sy

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