Bus Service Classifications

Bus services refer to the regular deployments of  transit buses on fixed routes, calling at selected bus stops and in adherence with published timetables and the Public Transport Council requirements.

Bus services in Singapore are typically associated with the two major bus operators, SBS Transit and SMRT, which run the majority of franchised bus services. Several types of bus services exist, usually grouped by their service hours or mode of payment.

General Characteristics

  • Operator: Refers to the bus company
  • Start/End Points: Usually refers to bus interchanges or terminals. Loop routes only have a single start point and a looping point.
  • Direction: Usually bidirectional, or unidirectional. Loop routes may fall into either category depending on layout.
  • Bus Stops: Designated en-route stops for boarding and alighting. Some routes do not contain en-route bus stops.
  • Routing: Sections of road which is plied by the bus route.
  • Fare: Depends on the distance traveled, currently standardized to distance-based fares introduced by the Land Transport Authority. Other routes charge flat fares.
  • Deployment: Refers to the deployment of buses on the route. This is influenced by several factors, such as passenger demand, or physical limitations of several sections of road.
  • Service hours: Time period where the service is offered. Further explained later in the article.
  • Headway: Time period between buses running on a route.
  • Route length: Distance traveled in one trip.
  • Journey time: Time taken for one trip.

Varying Considerations:

The following route characteristics are a direct results of variable factors involved in bus operations:

  • Capacity: The actual amount of passengers utilizing the bus route. Fluctuations can arise within short time frames (e.g. peak versus non-peak periods) and long time frames (change in demographics along the route)
  • Passenger load factor: Amount of utilisation of the total available capacity of a transport vehicle, involved in calculating the average occupancy on a certain bus route. The more passengers on any bus at any given time, the higher the passenger load factor along the route.
  • Actual travel time: Fluctuations in actual travel time are caused by environmental factors such as unexpected traffic jams. Such routes frequently encounter extended journey times inconsistent with planned journey time.

Types of Bus Services:

Bus services are classified into several types based on their mode of operations. They are:

Basic Bus Services:

  • Trunk Routes:
    Bus routes that run between towns. These are the most common bus routes in Singapore, and include cross-border routes.
  • Shortworking Trips:
    Special short-haul trips that operate only along a segment of their parent route, usually to cater towards high-demand sectors or to minimize wastage of resources operating full trips before the end of service hours.
  • Feeder Bus Routes:
    Bus routes that operate around a neighborhood. They usually operate out of a bus interchange, providing connections to various parts of housing estates, and are key to the hub-and-spoke transport system of Singapore.
  • Townlink / Intratown Routes:
    Extended feeder bus routes that are a combination of existing feeder routes. These provide connection between various parts of a housing estate while also serving a bus interchange.
  • Jurong Industrial Services:
    Bus routes that serve the industrial areas of Jurong, all of which are loop routes currently operating from Boon Lay Interchange.  The term “Jurong Industrial Service” is rarely or never used a designation, and are commonly regarded as trunk routes.
  • Bus Parallel Service
    Supplementary bus service that runs parallel to rail lines

Basic-Plus Bus Services:

BSEP-Introduced Special Services:

Premium Bus Services:

  • Premium Bus Services:
    Special services that charge a flat fare. Most commonly operating between residential areas and the CBD during peak hours, though not exclusively.

In addition to franchised bus companies, private bus companies also run their own bus routes (AC7, for example). Full-day routes are few in number, but Premium bus services are very common, due to the lucrative nature of such routes and lack of coverage by Premium services operated by SBS Transit and SMRT.

Shuttle services also fall under bus services. They are usually introduced by various organisations for their own use, and may or may not charge a fare. Bus operations can be outsourced to either public or private bus operators.

Scheme B Bus Services:

  • Scheme B Bus Services:
    Special services which date all the way back to the 1970s which duplicates some SBS routes to provide additional frequency for commuters.

Operations period

Bus services can also be classified into the days or periods of time at which the service is operated:

  • Daily services: Usually running daily from 5/6am to 1am the next day
  • Peak hour services:
    • Operates only during peak hours (e.g. 177)
    • Unidirectional peak hour operation (e.g. 587)
    • Operates in different directions between peak hours (e.g. 97e, 531, 982E)
    • Operates during the school term (e.g. 67A)
  • Morning-evening services (e.g. 6, 19)
  • Weekend services (e.g. 401, 963R)
  • Overnight services (e.g. 1N, NR3)
  • Special event services
    • Formula 1 (e.g. EW5, NS16)
    • Indoor Stadium (e.g. SS1, SS2)
  • Special holiday services
    • Ching Ming Festival (130A, 405)
    • Other holidays
  • Temporary services
  • Rail Bridging services
    • Activated only during train disruptions

View our bus service articles here.


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