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Public transport tales from Singapore

Pete Adney | March 23, 2016

Tags: Commercial operator | Duty allocations |

Those of you who know me will know that I am a bus man. Having worked in the UK bus industry for thirty years, I was starting to think that there wasn’t much that could surprise me. I’ve seen bus depots of all sizes and shapes, I’ve worked with bus operators of all sizes with all manner of different strategies, and I’ve worked with countless unique and brilliant fellow industry professionals.

But I’ve recently encountered something in the bus industry I’d never seen before. And it really took my breath away.

I recently returned from a fascinating trip to Singapore, where I worked with the team at Tower Transit Singapore to implement Trapeze’s DAS system, and then train the company’s staff in how to use the system.

Pete in Singapore
Pete, implementing DAS for Tower Transit Singapore

Now, for me, I’ve run so many successful DAS implementation and training projects that I thought I knew what to expect. But what made this experience so interesting was how different the working environment at the Tower Transit Singapore bus depots were compared to their UK counterparts.

Obviously, I expected there to be some cultural differences – but I wasn’t expecting the ones I discovered.

The thing that really stood out for me was the way the drivers are treated – starting with the incredible canteen, where the quality of catering really is outstanding. There were so many different types of food available, and all of it delicious.

Photo of the canteen
Tower Transit Singapore Canteen

The company does everything it can to make drivers feel proud of what they do. The uniforms are so smart, and they even refer to their drivers as “Bus Captains”.

Initially, these differences in terminology took some getting used to, but I quickly started thinking that “captain” is not only in many ways a more accurate description of what bus drivers do; it also has much more positive connotations – as my colleague Alistair points out in this detailed article.

The “bus captains” I met out there obviously found their jobs incredibly rewarding, which I am sure makes them happier in their day to day roles. And happy drivers are loyal drivers – which is so important when looking to address the real issue of high-driver turnover in the UK bus industry at the moment.

Some of the Singapore Bus Captains
Tower Transit Singapore Bus Captains

The loyalty of bus drivers to their company in Singapore was outstanding, and I think is something everyone in the UK industry aspires to. My visit to Tower Transit Singapore offered a good example of how small changes could make a real impact in terms of ensuring drivers are happier and more loyal.

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About Pete Adney

Pete Adney has worked in the bus industry for over 30 years: as a driver, inspector, assistant manager, manager, and business analyst. In his present role for Trapeze he forms the crucial connection between what the bus sector needs and technology can provide: on a daily basis that involves everything from system specification to implementation. He prides himself on strong customer relationships and feels fortunate to have been part of the bus industry for so long.

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