SMRT Buses

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SMRT Buses
ParentSMRT Corporation
  • 3 April 1983; 40 years ago (1983-04-03) (as Trans-Island Bus Services)
  • 10 May 2004; 19 years ago (2004-05-10) (as SMRT Buses)
HeadquartersWoodlands Bus Depot
60 Woodlands Industrial Park E4 Singapore 757705
Service areaNorthern and Western Singapore
Service typeBus operator

SMRT Buses is a bus operator in Singapore. A subsidiary of SMRT Corporation, it traded as Trans Island Bus Services until 10 May 2004.


Trans-Island Bus Services (1983–2004)[edit]

In April 1981, Communications & Labour Minister Ong Teng Cheong announced the government would grant a license to an operator that was willing to compete with Singapore Bus Service (SBS), that had operated all services in Singapore since 1973, with the aim of improving service levels.[1] In January 1982, City Shuttle Service operator Singapore Shuttle Bus (SSB) lodged applications with the Ministry of Communications to establish a second bus operator and the Registry Of Vehicles for four bus depots.[2] The applications were approved on 12 March that year, with SSB to take over 11 services in Woodlands and Sembawang from SBS.[3]

A new company, Trans-Island Bus Services, was founded on 31 May 1982, ordering a fleet of 250 buses including 90 Hinos.[4][5] Operations commenced on 3 April 1983 with 40 buses.[6][7]

On 12 March 1987, TIBS purchased its former parent company SSB.[8] On 27 April, TIBS was listed on SESDAQ, although Ng Ser Miang retained a majority shareholding.[9][10][11] By this stage it operated 361 buses.[12]

In 1995, as part of the government's plan to make the local bus system more competitive, 16 SBS Transit services were handed over to TIBS along with the tender to operate bus services in the north-east corridor, mainly the developing towns Sengkang and Punggol as well as Bukit Panjang.[13]

In 1996, TIBS began operations at the now closed Woodlands Regional Bus Interchange, Singapore's first underground bus interchange. It was also the first bus interchange designed to accommodate articulated buses. some of which were designed by world-renowned designer, Pininfarina and was known as the Habit articulated buses, on a large scale in its fleet, in contrast to the double-deckers used by SBS.[14][15]

In 1999, SBS Transit was awarded both bus and train services in the entire north-east corridor with the North East line, Sengkang LRT and Punggol LRT by the Land Transport Authority, both based in Sengkang.[16] Eight bus routes affected in the bus tender of Sengkang and Punggol were transferred to SBS Transit. In return, TIBS was awarded to operate 17 routes in the north-west corridor towns of Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Batok, where the handover was done in stages together with the opening of Bukit Panjang LRT.[17] Services 61, 106 and 173 were the last services to be handed over mainly due to extra time involved.[18]

In February 2001, TIBS joined with RATP Group in an unsuccessful bid to operate the Marina MRT line (now known as Circle line).[19][20][21]

SMRT Buses (2004–present)[edit]

TIBS and SMRT engaged in failed merger talks in 1999.[22][23] In July 2001, SMRT launched a takeover bid for TIBS that was accepted.[24][25] The transaction was completed in December 2001, with TIBS being operated as a wholly owned subsidiary.[26][27] As part of a corporate rebranding programme, TIBS was rebranded as SMRT Buses in May 2004.

In 2008, SMRT's first new bus after rebranding, the Mercedes-Benz OC500LE, entered service. It is its first wheelchair-accessible bus & first in Southeast Asia to meet Euro V emission standard.

On 26 November 2012, 170 bus drivers (all of whom were foreign nationals from China), refused to leave their living quarters for work. This reduced bus services to 90% of normal levels. The Ministry of Manpower considered it an illegal strike since the group failed to give a 14 days notice prior to disrupting an essential public service, as is required by the local laws. As a result, five of the strikers were jailed for instigating the strike, and another 29 were deported.[28][29]

On 26 December 2012, SMRT relocated Bukit Panjang Interchange to Bukit Panjang Temporary Bus Park.

On 13 March 2016, SMRT relocated Woodlands Regional Interchange to Woodlands Temporary Interchange.

On 29 May 2016, SMRT handed over management of Bukit Batok Interchange and Bukit Batok services under Bulim package to Tower Transit Singapore.

On 4 September 2017, SMRT opened its first integrated transport hub, Bukit Panjang.[30]

On 18 & 25 March 2018, SMRT handed over some Yishun services under Seletar package to SBS Transit.

On 16 December 2018, SMRT relocated Choa Chu Kang Interchange.

On 8 September 2019, SMRT opened its second integrated transport hub, Yishun. But the anchor operator was handed over to Tower Transit Singapore for the operations of the Sembawang Yishun Bus Package on 5 September 2021.[31]

In November 2020, SMRT laid up its last non-wheelchair accessible bus, the Mercedes-Benz O405G Hispano Habit. 1 unit is currently preserved at Woodlands depot.

On 23 January 2021, SMRT relocated Bukit Panjang Temporary Bus Park to Gali Batu Terminal.

On 13 June 2021, SMRT opened its third and also largest integrated transport hub in Singapore, Woodlands.[32]

From 5 September to 3 October 2021, SMRT handed over management of Yishun Integrated Transport Hub & Sembawang Interchange and Yishun, Woodlands & Sembawang / Yio Chu Kang services under Sembawang-Yishun package to Tower Transit Singapore in 3 separate tranches.

In February 2022, SMRT closed its Ang Mo Kio Depot.

On 30 June 2022, SMRT withdrew its special services. They are NightRider (NR1, NR2, NR3, NR5, NR6 & NR8), Resorts World (188R & 963R) and Zoo (926). These services were suspended since 8 April 2020 due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

On 18 August 2023, the Land Transport Authority announced that SMRT had won the bid for the Jurong West Bus Package, which is previously operated by SBS Transit. SMRT will take over these bus services from September 2024 onwards for at least 5 years.[33]


SMRT Buses operates services originating from Woodlands, Bukit Panjang, Bukit Batok and Choa Chu Kang. It also operates out of its dominated areas with 1 service originating from Sengkang.[34] Since 1999, SMRT has transferred bus services to other operators such as SBS Transit and Tower Transit Singapore; these include Punggol, Jalan Kayu, Yishun, Bukit Batok (the exception is 61 and 991) and Sembawang.[35][36] This was also the first time night services (later withdrawn) and the minibus service 825 were transferred together under the BCM Package.

In addition, SMRT Corporation has a minibus subsidiary Bus-Plus Services (now trading as Strides) which provides some premium, free shuttle, chartered, and peak-hour peak period bus services throughout Singapore.[37][38][39]


The MAN A24 Articulated Bus is the only model of Articulated Bus model left in the SMRT fleet. It is also the last batch of articulated buses in Singapore.
Some Volvo B9TL buses were allocated to SMRT by the Land Transport Authority when some Alexander Dennis Enviro500 buses were transferred to Tower Transit Singapore in 2016. Later several units were transferred to SBS Transit.
A SMRT Yutong E12 on service 61

As of 2017, SMRT Buses operates more than 1,450 buses.[40] It was the only operator of articulated buses in Singapore until 2018, when the Seletar Package transitioned to the Tendered Contract (TC) and introduced double-decker buses in 2014.[41][42] It was the first operator to introduce electronic destination signage (EDS) on its buses since 1990, which is now standard equipment on all new buses introduced to Singapore.[43] Some of these recently acquired buses are used for Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP) since 2012.[44]


In the 1980s, TIBS operated buses that were mostly of Japanese build such as Hino (such as the initial RK176 and the later HT238K) and Nissan Diesel (mostly the U31 series) [45]

In 1990, TIBS purchased its first European-built bus, the DAF SB220.[46] Subsequent bus purchases during the 1990s included the Mercedes-Benz O405, the Scania L113CRL, Dennis Lance and Hino HS3KRKK.[citation needed]

In 1996, TIBS purchased Singapore's first articulated bus, a Mercedes-Benz O405G which was specially airflown from Spain using a Spain Airlines cargo plane.[47] The success of this bus saw TIBS purchase another 314 of such buses from 1996 to 2004.[47]


Single deck[edit]

Double decker[edit]



SMRT Buses operates depots in Kranji and Woodlands and also partially occupies the Bulim & Seletar depots.[50] It also formerly occupied the Ang Mo Kio, & partial of Loyang & Ulu Pandan depots.

From September 2024, SMRT will operate the Soon Lee Bus Depot under the Jurong West bus package.[51]


  1. ^ Speech by Ong Teng Cheong at the Inauguration of Trans Island Bus Services Archived 3 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine Information Division 9 April 1983
  2. ^ Souk Yee, Wong (28 January 1982). "Shuttle Bus wants to run full service". Business Times. Singapore. Archived from the original on 17 June 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2018 – via NewspaperSG.
  3. ^ Bee Hwa, Hsung (13 March 1982). "Second scheduled bus service by April next year". The Straits Times. Singapore. Archived from the original on 17 June 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2018 – via NewspaperSG.
  4. ^ "Trans-Island buy first fleet of buses" Business Times 10 July 1982 page 6
  5. ^ "Trans Island buses gear up for operation" Singapore Monitor 23 March 1983 page 4
  6. ^ 1983 Archived 21 October 2018 at the Wayback Machine Land Transport Authority
  7. ^ Singapore Transportation Policy & Regulations Handbook. Washington, DC: International Business Publications. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4330-6815-7.
  8. ^ Cheok, Amy (26 March 1987). "Trans-Island expects $7.3m profit this year". The Business Times. p. 15. Archived from the original on 16 January 2023. Retrieved 16 January 2023.
  9. ^ "Entrepreneur with a zest for buses and the sea" The Straits Times 17 March 1987 page 21
  10. ^ "Company briefs" The Straits Times 27 April 1987 page 15
  11. ^ "Tibs" The Straits Times 19 August 1988 page 32
  12. ^ "Trans-Island share prospectus out today" Business Times 25 March 1987 page 1
  13. ^ "TIBS to take over in Bt Panjang, Jalan Kayu|" The Straits Times 26 June 1995
  14. ^ "Designer look for bendy buses" The Straits Times 13 June 2000
  15. ^ "Tibs buys 56 articulated buses,SBS says 'No' to extra-long buses" The Straits Times 18 August 1997
  16. ^ Bus operators share metro Archived 3 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine Railway Gazette International July 1999
  17. ^ "Tibs and SBS in routes swap"] 15 July 1999 page 16
  18. ^ Kuar, Karamjit (21 May 1999). "SBS to run North-East line - Tibs to merge with SMRT". Straits Times. Factiva.
  19. ^ "Tibs inks deal with French metro operator" Business Times 13 February 2001 page 7
  20. ^ "Tibs' big move" The New Paper 13 February 2001 page 7
  21. ^ SMRT wins Marina line Archived 3 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine Railway Gazette International October 2001
  22. ^ "No merger" The New Paper 19 October 1999 page 6
  23. ^ "Tibs nosedives" The New Paper 20 October 1999 page 7
  24. ^ "Who gains in MRT-bus merger" The Straits Times 11 July 2001
  25. ^ "SMRT Looks to Expand Rail with Takeover Bid for TIBS" Archived 29 August 2018 at the Wayback Machine Wall Street Journal 30 July 2001
  26. ^ "TIBS shares to be Delisted Today" The Straits Times 12 December 2001 page 10
  27. ^ Annual report for year ended 30 December 2001 SMRT Corporation
  28. ^ "No-show by SMRT's bus drivers an "illegal strike": Tan Chuan-Jin". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on 5 January 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  29. ^ "SMRT strike situation explained to Chinese embassy: Tan Chuan-Jin". AsiaOne News. Archived from the original on 2 July 2021. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  30. ^ Abdullah, Zhaki (4 September 2017). "New Bukit Panjang transport hub opens after two-year delay | the Straits Times". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 3 September 2021. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  31. ^ "Yishun integrated transport hub to open on Sept 8 | The Straits Times". The Straits Times. 7 August 2019. Archived from the original on 7 August 2019. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  32. ^ Yiyang, Fang (13 June 2021). "Largest integrated transport hub in Singapore opens in Woodlands | the Straits Times". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 13 June 2021. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  33. ^ "LTA | LTA Awards Bukit Merah and Jurong West Bus Packages to SBS Transit and SMRT Buses". Retrieved 18 August 2023.
  34. ^ Singapore transitions as bus contracting completes Archived 3 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine Coach & Bus Week 15 August 2016
  35. ^ "PTO Handover Exercise - SgWiki". Archived from the original on 20 November 2020. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  36. ^ "Tower Transit awarded Bulim and Sembawang-Yishun Bus Packages – Land Transport Guru". 30 September 2020. Archived from the original on 24 November 2020. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  37. ^ Yeo, Ghim Lay (8 December 2008). "Premium bus services riding high". Straits Times. Factiva.
  38. ^ Tan, Christoper (16 December 2014). "Five more bus services during peaks in four towns". Straits Times. Archived from the original on 16 December 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  39. ^ Home[permanent dead link] Strides
  40. ^ SMRT Group Review Archived 3 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine SMRT Corporation 2017
  41. ^ a b SMRT orders Enviro500s Archived 3 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine Bus & Coach Professional 7 April 2014
  42. ^ SMRT to launch double deckers for 10 bus services Archived 3 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine Today 6 July 2014
  43. ^ Peralta, Claudette (21 November 1994). "Electronic signs on Tibs buses a hit with S'poreans". Straits Times. Factiva.
  44. ^ "Improvements to more than 50 bus services, better connectivity with five new bus services by end 2012". PublicTransport@SG. 13 September 2012. Archived from the original on 21 September 2012.
  45. ^ Yung, Stanley (2013). The Fleet Directory of Singapore Buses. BSI Hobbies (HK). ISBN 978-962-8414-87-1.
  46. ^ "DAF SB220". Land Transport Guru. 31 December 2017. Archived from the original on 3 September 2019. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  47. ^ a b "Mercedes-Benz O405G". Land Transport Guru. 31 December 2017. Archived from the original on 28 September 2020. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  48. ^ Information Kit Archived 24 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine SMRT Corporation
  49. ^ 200 MAN lowfloor citybuses for SMRT Archived 3 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine Coach & Bus Week 13 September 2011
  50. ^ Locations Archived 27 July 2018 at the Wayback Machine SMRT Buses
  51. ^ PMPermalink, Bus Observer18 August 2023 at 9:01 (18 August 2023). "SBS Transit and SMRT Buses awarded Bukit Merah and Jurong West Bus Packages | Land Transport Guru". Retrieved 19 August 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)

Further reading[edit]

  • Davis, Mike (2012). Singapore Buses Volume 2 Singapore Shuttle Bus and Trans Island Bus Service now SMRT Buses. Croydon: DTS Publishing. ISBN 978-1-900515-27-6.

External links[edit]

Media related to SMRT Buses at Wikimedia Commons