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Rogue Bus Enthusiasts (or Rogues) generally refer to bus enthusiasts / bus fans in Singapore who exhibit poor social conduct, either in public or on online platforms, and sometimes both. They might be:
- Arrogant and disregarding of other peoples’ interests
- Jeopardizing their own safety as well as the safety of others
- Impeding traffic movement on the public roads of Singapore to collect bus-related media and information
- Sowing discord between bus enthusiasts
Rouges are a subject of controversy and discussion among bus enthusiasts in Singapore, and more recently, also among members of the general public as their behavior surfaces on online platforms. They come from many backgrounds, notably those of primary and secondary school age. The internet era has brought about new platforms for rogues to convey their negative views.
A list of controversial behavior has been compiled, though not exhaustive:
- Blatant disregard of traffic rules, such as dashing across roads or standing on narrow road dividers, paying little attention to the surrounding traffic conditions
- Using foul language on members of the public, bus company staff or even other bus enthusiasts while engaging in bus-related activities
- Taking photos of buses in interchange facilities where photography is discouraged
- Using camera flash while taking photos of buses (either from the outside or the inside), affecting the driver’s concentration on the road
- Relying on relationships with bus drivers or company staff for personal gain, e.g. Hitching rides on off-service buses, or acquiring of bus deployment information
- Intentionally engaging in long conversations with a bus driver, which also includes deliberately standing at the front of the bus and obstructing passenger movement
- Treating buses like their homes; running about or shouting on revenue service
- Intentional alteration or destruction of bus property, like pasting of personal stickers in the bus or the slicing of seat fabrics
- Theft of bus property, either during revenue service or from retired buses in scrapyards. This includes stickers, plastic destos, emergency hammers, and in extreme cases, even electronic route displays (EDSes)
- Wasting their youth to document buses at the expense of their education or career
- Using expensive cameras (like DSLRs) to capture pictures of buses without any mastery of basic photography skills, often used to show off and at the expense of their parents’ money
- Flaming other online users who express criticism of buses, even using personal attacks
- Proposing impractical solutions to bus-related issues, usually to fuel personal interests
- Creating a large number of clone accounts to disrupt the order of online forums
- Unreasonable criticism of bus operators when bus service levels fall short of expectations
- Spreading hate and criticism of other bus enthusiasts, thereby sowing disharmony among members of the bus enthusiast community, through forums or Facebook pages such as this one
- Posting of first-hand information to gain attention, such as information yet to be released publicly, or even false reporting special bus deployments (“cameos”)
- Exerting influence on bus forums to promote certain opinions
- Hard selling one’s own bus-related media through online platforms, most notably Facebook
Documentation of Rogue activities
Documentation of rogue bus enthusiast activities can be found both on bus online forums as well as the citizen journalism site STOMP. The major forum used by local enthusiasts, SGForums, contains a large number of rogue bus fans, in addition to plenty of clone accounts. Proper discussion on bus issues is usually impeded by biased users fulfilling their personal interests (such as double-deck versus articulated bus discussions) as well as “trolls”; accounts which post irrelevant information to disrupt discussions. In some cases, users engage in personal attacks against other users of the forum.
STOMP, an online citizen journalism platform, is also popular with bus enthusiasts (and rarely other members of the public) to post media relating to rogue activities of other enthusiasts. This is usually done to raise awareness and discourage related behavior, but more recently, it has also been used as a ‘proxy’ between conflicting groups of bus enthusiasts. Often, this also implicates the company staff responsible for the incident. A 2013 incident onboard Service 409 involved a group of bus enthusiasts standing at the front of the bus, talking to the bus driver for almost the entire journey. The bus driver involved faced penalties for her lapse of safety, while the rouge bus enthusiasts involved disclaimed any responsibility in the incident (see Gallery).
While there are no concrete rules which dictate codes of conduct for bus enthusiasts, the bus community relies on mutual respect among enthusiasts, as well as the common interest for buses. Observing safety and being considerate to others are key to maintaining a healthy bus enthusiast society for all.
Known cases of rogue bus-fan activity
- Standing on road dividers: This is a well-known and documented phenomenon where bus fans stand on the middle divider of roads to take pictures of buses. It is usually done to get a closer-up shot of the bus, as well as getting over visual obstacles in the middle of the road such as fences or bushes. Although generally accepted to be “a calculated risk on the part of the photographer”, it remains a dangerous activity, especially when the road dividers are narrow in width.
- Using “kinder” bus drivers for personal gain: Some bus enthusiasts take advantage of bus drivers for personal gain, such as obtaining bus interior photos or in more serious cases, even requesting for special services to be displayed on the electronic route display. This will likely get drivers into trouble if raised to the bus company.
- Engaging in long conversations with drivers: This jeopardizes the safety of bus operations because it may distract the bus driver, who should be dedicating his or her full attention on the road. Standing at the front of the bus during conversation also impedes the flow of commuters through the entry door. Although some drivers do not mind chatting, this practice is generally discouraged.
- Theft of bus property: This has been documented for some “black sheep” within the bus community. Items stolen by bus enthusiasts include plastic route number plates (destos), handgrips, bells, speakers, emergency hammers and air-conditioning vents. On one occasion, a bus enthusiast was reported to have stolen a rear electronic route number display from an SMRT Mercedes-Benz OC500LE, and in 2015, two were arrested for the theft of card readers (one was sentenced to 24 months probation in Oct 2015 for the offence, along with a slew of more serious offences). More recently, bus enthusiasts acquire memorabilia from retired buses at the scrapyard rather than resorting to theft onboard revenue service buses, but theft continues to happen.
- Sowing disharmony among bus enthusiasts online: Some rogue bus enthusiasts take joy in flaming other bus enthusiasts online, usually because they are self-centered and do not respect others and their opinions. Within the bus community in Singapore, such rogue groups of enthusiasts exist, and seek to sow discord among bus enthusiasts by opening criticizing others who do not agree with them. This is often spread through peer pressure and psychological influence, which eventually spreads to more and more people.
Specific people make great real-life examples for some of the list of disgraceful behavior as mentioned above, but their names will not be revealed, out of respect for fellow enthusiasts.
Hall of Shame
Finally, this article is dedicated to the promoting awareness of Rogue Bus Enthusiasts within the bus community in Singapore, and not to promote personal attacks. If you do recognise anyone involved in the photos above, respect their identities and refrain from naming and shaming them in the comments.
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