City state launches search for operators as part of bus shake up



Go-Ahead Group is eyeing expansion into Singapore where the government has just put its first bus contract out to tender using a model based largely on methods used in London.

The Singapore Land Transport Authority has highlighted an expectation of strong international involvement, naming Go-Ahead as one of the companies to have expressed an interest along with Keolis, Transdev, Australian-owned Tower Transit and local operators.

The first tender was launched at the start of October. The five-year gross cost contract is for operation of 26 routes starting in the second half of 2016. The initial requirement is to run 380 buses, growing to 500 by 2021, as well as operating and maintaining a new bus depot and two major bus interchanges.

On the day the routes were put out to tender, Go-Ahead launched a customer consultation in Singapore, setting up a website for bus users to give their feedback on the improvements they would like to see.

“With the bus tendering process recently announced we’re interested to get passengers’ views on their experiences of using buses in Singapore. We believe listening to customers’ feedback will be extremely useful in helping us understand the market,” Martin Dean, Go-Ahead’s managing director – bus development, said.

Two similar-sized contracts will be let next year with nine packages for the remaining routes expected to be let in 2022.

As London’s largest bus operator, Go-Ahead is familiar with many aspects of Singapore’s plans to contract its network, providing the company with greater opportunity to establish a lasting international presence than previous attempts.

This year, Go-Ahead ended its involvement in the US school bus market citing low profit margins which had prevented its joint venture with local operator Cook building on an initial small base. Fifteen  years ago, Go-Ahead pulled out of several Scandinavian contracts, which it won in a partnership with Via-GTI, before operations started, after resistance from trade unions.

In recent years, the company has also been keeping watch on a number of markets, including European urban rail contracts, where it anticipates that its UK experience may be transferable.


This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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