Singapore Then and Now: Taking the Bus

When I was in school, back in the early 80’s, I remember waiting for up to 25 minutes for a bus. Even if one came along they didn’t stop as it was already bursting at the seams.

We were afraid of the drivers because if we didn’t have the right change we would get yelled at.  The buses were also kinda filthy and when the driver jerked the bus by slamming on the brake (which took place every minute or so) a friend of mine slid from the back of the bus to the front like she was skate boarding.  It was the most hilarious thing I had ever seen. Sometimes the drivers were nice or maybe impatient, and would wave us in and we got a free ride.  Their impatience was dangerous then too as they moved off before you had completely got on or off.  There’s no more of them I am happy to report.  For all that I think the people in charge of our buses are doing a great job.  I am especially impressed by the courteousness of the drivers or bus captains. I think if you value, respect and pay employees better you will get better service in return.

Kids are resilient. Now that I’m old I’m glad I went through that because I really do appreciate the advances since. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined the MRT system or how well-connected it would be, the clean and air-conditioned buses and terminals. And most of all the cheerful bus drivers who greet me with a smile, a hello or thank you. It’s pretty darn amazing. It can be nice to take a bus at non peak hours.

Oh yes, no more bus tickets. It’s all by a contactless card system. But I do recall fondly how my cousin C collected all the bus tickets till he had a whole basket full and I was actually so impressed by his collection. The only thing is prices are not what they used to be. A ride on the feeder service which cost 15 cents is now 71 cents.

We didn’t have colourful ads on buses back then.

photo by bookjunkie

The interior of the bus is so clean and there’s air-conditioning. I recall a time when there were sliding windows that could be opened as there was no air-conditioning then. Somehow it wasn’t as hot then as it is now. I suspect it’s due to global warming.

photo by bookjunkie

A covered bus terminal so you didn’t get wet, even when it poured. This was at one of the very first covered air-conditioned terminals at Toa Payoh. There’s one at Ang Mo Kio as well.

photo by bookjunkie

Buses still do get crowded at peak hours.

photo by bookjunkie

The old bus terminal will soon be a sight of the past. I am thinking perhaps in twenty years.

photo by bookjunkie

But I have to admit I do love the sheltered bus terminal with all it’s shopping distractions like this one at Toa Payoh which is connected to the MRT and mall.

photo by bookjunkie

About bookjunkie

Blogging about life in Singapore helps me survive the mid-life crisis
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2 Responses to Singapore Then and Now: Taking the Bus

  1. conrad says:

    exact change? didn’t they have fare collectors going up and down the aisle, manually giving out colourful bus tickets?

    surprised that you didn’t mention the non-air con’ed buses, with the sliding windows.

    • bookjunkie says:

      I think I didn’t experience the fare collection as I had a student monthly pass. Oh yes, it was hot in those buses.

      Thanks for the reminder – will add in the bit about the non-airconditioned buses.

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