On 13 March 2015, the residents of Yishun bid farewell to the bus interchange they were so familiar with. The departure of the last bus meant that it was time to say goodbye to the Yishun Bus Interchange that had served the town well in the past 28 years. The premises will be demolished in near future to make way for the new Integrated Transport Hub (ITH) at Northpoint City, which will be made up of North Park Residences, an air-conditioned bus interchange and a shopping underpass that links to the Yishun MRT Station.
In 1977, the Singapore government launched the Yishun New Town project, reserving some 920 hectares of land between Admiralty and Sembawang Roads for residential and industrial development. By the early eighties, there was a sizable population living at Yishun New Town; many of the residents originated from the nearby villages such as Nee Soon, Chye Kay and Mandai.
A large bus interchange became essential to meet the demands of an increasing population in Yishun. Before the construction of the old Yishun Bus Interchange in the mid-eighties, the Yishun residents had to be contended with the two bus terminals located at the Yishun Central and Yishun Avenue 5. Slow and irregular bus services made commuting between new towns and the city area tedious and inconvenient. The small terminals also faced difficulties in coping with the rising number of commuters, and basic amenities such as coin-changing machines were absent.
The Housing Development Board (HDB) was thus given the task to build a permanent facility to provide bus services at Yishun. In August 1985, tenders were issued and awarded to contractors for the construction of the new bus interchange.
In just two years, the Yishun Bus Interchange was completed and ready for operation. Officially opened on 23 August 1987, it was the ninth bus interchange built in Singapore after Bukit Merah, Clementi, Woodlands, Ang Mo Kio, Hougang, Bedok, Jurong East and Toa Payoh. Four more bus interchanges at Bukit Batok, Tampines, Serangoon and Bishan were added by the early nineties.
Costing a total of $2 million in construction, the new bus interchange, painted with an eye-catching purple appearance, consisted of 36 bus parking berths, 24 boarding/alighting bays and a staff office. Shortly after its opening, HDB handed the management of the new bus interchange to the Trans Island Bus Services (TIBS) for a token of $1.
The Trans Island Bus Services was established in 1982 to provide competition to the Singapore Bus Services (SBS), which was formed earlier in 1973 after the merger of the three largest private bus companies in Amalgamated Bus Company (ABC), Associated Bus Services (ABS) and United Bus Company (UBC). Running its own fleet of yellow-and-orange buses, TIBS was given the exclusive right to operate in the northern part of Singapore such as Woodlands, Yishun and Sembawang. Its services were later extended to Bukit Panjang, Jalan Kayu and Punggol.
In 2001, TIBS merged and became a subsidiary of the SMRT Corporation, which took over the management of the bus interchanges at Woodlands and Yishun. TIBS officially walked into history three years later when its fleet of buses were painted red and renamed under the SMRT brand.
The early bus services by TIBS were mostly the 800-series. New bus services were later added constantly to provide wider convenience to the commuters in getting to other towns and housing districts. A daily one-way service No 825, for example, was introduced in 1988 to ferry commuters between the Yishun Bus Interchange and Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6 at a frequency of 10 minutes from 6am to 830pm. The bus fares for the One-Man-Operation (OMO) service ranged between 40c and 60c for adults and 25c for children.
The new Yishun Integrated Transport Hub is expected to be ready by 2019. A temporary bus interchange, located on the opposite side of Yishun Central 1, has been made available for the commuters’ ease of convenience for the next four years. Upon its completion, the Yishun ITH will be the tenth integrated transport hub in Singapore. The other nine ITHs are located at Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Boon Lay, Bukit Panjang, Clementi, Joo Koon, Serangoon, Sengkang and Toa Payoh.
Published: 16 March 2015