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SINGAPORE: Commuters on bus service 190 may notice something different about their ride, as SMRT’s single-deck, three-door bus began operations on Monday (Jun 19).

It follows the trial of a three-door double-decker bus in March, and is part of the same six-month trial on three-door buses conducted by the Land Transport Authority to look at how such bus designs are able to improve commuter flow.

SMRT said that the bus will run on service 190 for three months and then on service 901 for another three months. Trials on service 901 will begin at an unannounced later date. Only one bus will be deployed by SMRT for the whole trial.

The single-deck, three-door bus has a 90-passenger capacity, with 24 seats and space for one wheelchair. SMRT said it has the same capacity as current single-deck buses but that there are fewer seats on the three-door bus. At 12m, the length of the bus is also similar to current single-deck buses.

The new features on the bus include a standing corner at the back of the bus, next to the third door; information display panels that tell passengers what the next few bus stops are; and seats with higher headrests.

The bus has a retractable handrest within the designated wheelchair space for passengers to grip on to. (Photo: Rachel Phua) (Photo: Rachel Phua)

To help wheelchair users, the bus has a retractable handrest within the designated wheelchair space for passengers to grip on to. The middle pole within the space has also been removed so that people in wheelchairs can manoeuvre around the bus, making it easier for them to disembark.

SMRT said that five bus drivers have been trained how to operate the three-door bus for the first day of trials so far, and it will continue to train more as the trial continues.

SMRT also invited wheelchair users on the bus’ first trip. 

Fifty-five-year-old Tan Kiad Keng, a retiree who uses an electric wheelchair, said in Mandarin that though he liked the new bus features, he might have to spend more time waiting for the bus.

“Now there’s only space for one wheelchair, unlike some of the current buses that have two. So if there’s already a passenger in a wheelchair on it, I would have (to) wait for the next bus,” Mr Tan said.

SMRT invited wheelchair users to go along for the bus’ first trip. (Photo: Rachel Phua)

Another wheelchair user, Margaret R See, 60, said that the extra door meant that she would be able to alight more quickly.

“Normally I have to wait for the rest of the passengers to come down, then I will come down. (But) now with the third door, they can exit (from the door at the back and) I’ll be able to come down at the same time as them.”

She added that the information display system was particularly helpful, but hoped that recorded announcements could be made as well, so that passengers with other special needs would know what the next destination was. “Like the ones who are blind,” she said. “At least they can hear (the announcements), like what they did with the MRT”.

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