A Korean bus conglomerate is bidding for a Singapore bus contract at Loyang in a joint venture with a Singapore company Tian San Shipping. Kumho Buslines is South Korea’s biggest express bus operator and a subsidiary of the Kumho Asiana Group. Singapore will be Kumho Buslines’s 4th overseas business venture after China, Vietnam and Cambodia. Kumho Buslines announced its intention to bid for the second Singapore bus contract today after having done its site survey and understanding of the Singapore public transport system.
The second bus contract has its new bus depot along Loyang Avenue, and will operate bus routes in the far eastern side of Singapore – Changi Airport Bus Terminal, Changi Village Bus Termina and Punggol Bus Interchange. The first bus contract was based in the west side of Singapore serving Bukit Batok, Clementi and Jurong, and awarded to UK-based bus conglomerate Tower Transit Systems with the third-lowest bid of S$556 million over five years.
It is very likely the Korean bus conglomerate will be the winner of bus contract because the Singapore Government is trying to introduce private market competition from international players. SMRT and SBS have been dominating the Singapore public transport monopoly since their privatization in 2000.
Public transport business is very lucrative in Singapore because the Singapore Government will always allow fare raise for public transport operators to make profits. The Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) has also very weak public transport regulations on overcrowding and near non-existent enforcement on public transport. Fines issued by the LTA for major public transport breakdown are usually loose change for these conglomerates and minor breakdowns are usually not fined by LTA at all.