SMRT Buses

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

SMRT Buses
SMRT Buses Logo.png
SMRT MAN A22 Gemilang SMB3004E 77 Alexander Dennis Enviro500 MMC 106.jpg
SMRT Buses Gemilang Coachworks bodied MAN NL323F on service 77 and Alexander Dennis Enviro500 MMC on service 106 at Stamford Road in May 2016
ParentSMRT Corporation
Founded3 April 1983; 37 years ago (1983-04-03)
Service areaSingapore
Service typeBus services
FleetCirca 1,450 (2017)


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 27 April 1987, TIBS was listed on SESDAQ, although Mr Ng Ser Miang retained a majority shareholding.[8][9][10] By this stage it operated 361 buses.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13][14]

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.[15] 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.[16] Services 61, 106 and 173 were the last services to be handed over mainly due to extra time involved.[17]

In February 2001 TIBS joined with RATP Group in an unsuccessful bid to operate the Marina line.[18][19][20]

SMRT Buses (2004–present)Edit

TIBS and SMRT engaged in unsuccessful merger talks in 1999.[21][22] In July 2001, SMRT launched a takeover bid for TIBS that was accepted.[23][24] The transaction was completed in December 2001, with TIBS being operated as a wholly owned subsidiary.[25][26] As part of a corporate rebranding programme, TIBS was rebranded as SMRT Buses in May 2004.

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.[27][28]


SMRT Buses operates services at Yishun, Sembawang, Woodlands, Bukit Panjang, Bukit Batok and Choa Chu Kang, and operated one special service, 110.[29] Since 1999, SMRT Buses (and Trans-Island Bus Services) have handed back Sengkang, Punggol, Jalan Kayu and parts of Yishun to SBS Transit. Most of the Bukit Batok routes were transferred to Tower Transit Singapore, except services 61, 868E, and new services 944 and 991.[30]

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.[31][32][33]


As at 2017, SMRT Buses operates more than 1,450 buses.[34] 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.[35][36] It was the first operator to introduce electronic destination signage (EDS) on its buses since 1990, which is now standard equipment.[37] Some of these recently acquired buses are used for Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP) since 17 September 2012.[38]


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) [39]

In 1990, TIBS purchased its first European-built bus, the DAF SB220.[40] Subsequent bus purchases during the 1990s included the Mercedes-Benz O405, the Scania L113CRL, Dennis Lance and Hino HS3KRKK.

In 1996, TIBS purchased Singapore's first articulated bus, a Mercedes-Benz O405G which was specially airflown from Spain using a Spair Airlines cargo plane.[41] The success of this bus saw TIBS purchase another 314 of such buses from 1996 to 2004.[41]


Single deckEdit

Double deckerEdit



SMRT Buses operates depots in Ang Mo Kio, Kranji and Woodlands and also partially occupies the Bulim, Seletar and Ulu Pandan depots.[44]


  1. ^ Speech by Ong Teng Cheong at the Inauguration of Trans Island Bus Services Information Division 9 April 1983
  2. ^ Souk Yee, Wong (28 January 1982). "Shuttle Bus wants to run full service". Business Times. Singapore. 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. 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 Land Transport Authority
  7. ^ Singapore Transportation Policy & Regulations Handbook. Washington, DC: International Business Publications. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4330-6815-7.
  8. ^ "Entrepreneur with a zest for buses and the sea" The Straits Times 17 March 1987 page 21
  9. ^ "Company briefs" The Straits Times 27 April 1987 page 15
  10. ^ "Tibs" The Straits Times 19 August 1988 page 32
  11. ^ "Trans-Island share prospectus out today" Business Times 25 March 1987 page 1
  12. ^ "TIBS to take over in Bt Panjang, Jalan Kayu|" The Straits Times 26 June 1995
  13. ^ "Designer look for bendy buses" The Straits Times 13 June 2000
  14. ^ "Tibs buys 56 articulated buses,SBS says 'No' to extra-long buses" The Straits Times 18 August 1997
  15. ^ Bus operators share metro Railway Gazette International July 1999
  16. ^ "Tibs and SBS in routes swap"] 15 July 1999 page 16
  17. ^ Kuar, Karamjit (21 May 1999). "SBS to run North-East line - Tibs to merge with SMRT". Straits Times. Factiva.
  18. ^ "Tibs inks deal with French metro operator" Business Times 13 February 2001 page 7
  19. ^ "Tibs' big move" The New Paper 13 February 2001 page 7
  20. ^ SMRT wins Marina line Railway Gazette International October 2001
  21. ^ "No merger" The New Paper 19 October 1999 page 6
  22. ^ "Tibs nosedives" The New Paper 20 October 1999 page 7
  23. ^ "Who gains in MRT-bus merger" The Straits Times 11 July 2001
  24. ^ "SMRT Looks to Expand Rail with Takeover Bid for TIBS" Wall Street Journal 30 July 2001
  25. ^ "TIBS shares to be Delisted Today" The Straits Times 12 December 2001 page 10
  26. ^ Annual report for year ended 30 December 2001 SMRT Corporation
  27. ^ "No-show by SMRT's bus drivers an "illegal strike": Tan Chuan-Jin". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  28. ^ "SMRT strike situation explained to Chinese embassy: Tan Chuan-Jin". AsiaOne News. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  29. ^ Singapore transitions as bus contracting completes Coach & Bus Week 15 August 2016
  30. ^ "Bukit Batok Bus Interchange". Land Transport Guru. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  31. ^ Yeo, Ghim Lay (8 December 2008). "Premium bus services riding high". Straits Times. Factiva.
  32. ^ Tan, Christoper (16 December 2014). "Five more bus services during peaks in four towns". Straits Times. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  33. ^ Home Strides
  34. ^ SMRT Group Review SMRT Corporation 2017
  35. ^ a b SMRT orders Enviro500s Bus & Coach Professional 7 April 2014
  36. ^ SMRT to launch double deckers for 10 bus services Today 6 July 2014
  37. ^ Peralta, Claudette (21 November 1994). "Electronic signs on Tibs buses a hit with S'poreans". Straits Times. Factiva.
  38. ^ "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.
  39. ^ Yung, Stanley (2013). The Fleet Directory of Singapore Buses. BSI Hobbies (HK). ISBN 978-962-8414-87-1.
  40. ^ "DAF SB220". Land Transport Guru. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  41. ^ a b "Mercedes-Benz O405G". Land Transport Guru. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  42. ^ Information Kit SMRT Corporation
  43. ^ 200 MAN lowfloor citybuses for SMRT Coach & Bus Week 13 September 2011
  44. ^ Locations SMRT Buses

Further readingEdit

  • 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 linksEdit

  Media related to SMRT Buses at Wikimedia Commons