In Singapore, there are three types of public transport facilities that serve as the start and end points of bus routes: Integrated Transport Hubs (ITHs), bus interchanges, and bus terminals.
Integrated Transport Hubs, as the name suggests, integrate bus interchanges, MRT stations, and commercial and residential facilities. All are fully air-conditioned and connected seamlessly to one another. There are 11 ITHs in Singapore, the newest being Yishun (opened 2019) and Woodlands (opened 2021).
Bus interchanges are relatively large facilities handling many bus routes, usually located near or next to MRT stations, allowing for convenient bus-rail transfers. Excluding ITHs, there are 17 bus interchanges in Singapore.
Bus terminals are relatively smaller facilities with fewer bus routes. While some are near MRT stations, others are not, and may serve just a small area of the island. In terms of infrastructure, they are more spartan and basic than bus interchanges. There are 18 bus terminals in Singapore, of which 16 are on the main island, while two are in Sentosa.
The historical trend is for bus terminals to be closed and replaced by bus interchanges, and bus interchanges to be upgraded to ITHs. Over time, I expect the number of bus terminals to drop, and the number of ITHs to grow.
I recently checked out the Lorong 1 Geylang Bus Terminal, an example of a bus terminal which could be closed and replaced by a nearby bus interchange in the future.
Lorong 1 Geylang Bus Terminal occupies the rough quadrilateral bounded by Lorong 1 Geylang, Sims Avenue, the Kallang River, and Geylang Road (below).
The bus terminal is next to a historic bridge over the Kallang River, which was first completed in 1842. The bridge enabled a country road to be extended eastward from the Town of Singapore, across the river, to the eastern end of the island.
The country road was named Kallang Road and Geylang Road on either side of the bridge, and ended as Changi Road at Changi Village 13 miles away.
The bridge was later named Sir Arthur’s Bridge after Sir Arthur Young, Governor of the Straits Settlements from 1911 to 1920 (below).
In the early 1970s, Sims Avenue was extended westward to Geylang Road, to ease congestion on the busy Kallang-Geylang artery connecting the City to the eastern suburbs. This formed the plot of land on which Lorong 1 Geylang Bus Terminal currently sits. At the end of the decade, Sims Avenue was further realigned westward to join Kallang Road via a bridge over the Kallang River.
The year 1975 was notable for the launch of two major transport schemes in Singapore.
The Park and Ride scheme was introduced to encourage motorists to park their cars at the fringe of the Central Business District (CBD), and finish their journeys into the CBD by bus. Meanwhile, the Area Licensing Scheme (ALS) was also rolled out, charging motorists for driving into the CBD. The authorities hoped these two schemes would reduce peak-hour road congestion in and around the CBD.
For the Park and Ride scheme, car parks were needed ringing the fringe of the CBD. The quadrilateral plot by the Kallang River was chosen for one such car park, named the Geylang Fringe Car Park, or Fringe Car Park A, which opened in 1975.
Next to the car park, shuttle buses took motorists to Shenton Way, Bras Basah Road, and Orchard Road. These buses were part of the City Shuttle Service (CSS), operated by Singapore Shuttle Bus Pte. Ltd (SSB). SSB was acquired by Trans-Island Bus Services (TIBS) in 1987, itself acquired by SMRT in 2001.
In 1977, the Singapore Bus Service (SBS) moved from the nearby Lorong 5 Geylang Bus Terminal into the Geylang Fringe Car Park. The latter was henceforth known as the Lorong 1 Geylang Bus Terminal. SBS was eventually rebranded as SBS Transit in 2001.
The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) was rolled out from 1987. Kallang MRT Station opened across Sims Avenue from the bus terminal on 4 November 1989, allowing a bus-rail connection.
Park and Ride, and the City Shuttle Service, never really took off. The latter was withdrawn in 2007, and the facilities abandoned. Sadly, they were demolished between 2011 and 2014 for the widening of Sims Avenue from four to six lanes.
After the Bus Contracting Model was introduced in 2014, Lorong 1 Geylang Bus Terminal was placed under the Sembawang-Yishun Bus Package, as several of its bus services started in Woodlands and Yishun.
SMRT managed the bus terminal from 2016 to 2021, thereafter handing it over to Tower Transit Singapore, after it won the tender to operate the Sembawang-Yishun Bus Package to 2026.
Like other bus terminals, Lorong 1 Geylang Bus Terminal has simple facilities. There are two container offices, one for SBS Transit, one for Tower Transit, both painted in the respective companies’ liveries.
Kallang MRT Station can be seen in the background.
There is one bus stop which serves as the start point for nine bus services.
SMRT Bus 961M picking up passengers at the bus stop. It ends at Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange.
Buses parked at the terminal.
Tucked away next to the Tower Transit office is the bus terminal shrine. I wonder how long it has been there.
The shrine has a Tua Pek Kong, curiously shielded - has someone tried to steal him before?
Tua Pek Kong may not be here forever - he may have to move with the bus terminal, perhaps in a few years, when a BTO project next to Kallang MRT Station is completed. Kallang Horizon is estimated to be completed in 2028, and it will come with a bus interchange, which should take the place of the bus terminal.
Until then, Lorong 1 Geylang Bus Terminal lives on as a stop for transport history.