Thursday, October 11, 2007

The lounge of a bus

Just the other day, I boarded a very crowded Service 151. I could have taken a Service 154 which was just in front of the 151. I don't know why I chose the 151. When I boarded, I regretted my choice. It was standing room only with me beside the driver. My leg was hurting - an old problem had just 'acted up' so I resigned myself to a painful journey. But then I was distracted. The interior of the bus was different - very different.

Instead of two-person seats down the aisle, this bus' seats was just one long stretch from the front right up to the back - MRT-style. When I finally got a seat, I had occasion to observe further. I noticed two 'bar-seats' facing the 'wall' of the bus. It was apparently designed for passengers to read his/her papers or books quite comfortably without disturbing any other passenger. Later, when I made my way in the still crowded bus to the exit, I noticed some 'lounge-like' chairs lined up along the other side of the bus, beginning from the exit door - perhaps 3 or 4 of them. The bus ceiling was padded in red carpet-like material, adding to the cosy feeling. It was surreal.

Wow! Is this what SBSTransit means when it says it wants to value-add to its services? Is this what the annual fare price increases are for? This layout and the seats are certainly unusual for a bus, but I am not all over the moon about it. Buses frequently and regularly start and stop. While this is true also of the subway train, the jerky motion is more pronounced on buses. It took all of my butt muscles to keep me from bumping into both my seated neighbours. You see, unlike the subway trains, the seats in these buses are soft cushioned types - which is a bad idea on buses that frequently start and stop and also when passengers are seated side-by-side.

One thing that was noticeably absent anywhere near the seated passenger is access to the buzzer. I looked left, I looked right, I looked back and I looked front. Heck, I even looked up, but there was no sign of the buzzer. I was worried about how to alert the driver to stop at my destination. You see, the bus was still standing-room only as I neared my destination. I needn't have worried because someone found the buzzer, probably near the exit, I don't know.

What do I think about this whole new experience? Not very much I must say. I still would prefer the conventional seat arrangement and I hated the bouncy cushion. I would much rather prefer those contoured seats that are standard on all SMRT (previously TIBS) buses. At least you get to keep your butt, shoulders and everything in between, to yourself instead of knocking them into another at every stop. I will miss the butt muscle toning exercise, however.

Second, I don't think white cushion colours will last. Yes, the cushions are white in colour! Now who made such a unthinking choice? This is public transport, and we have all kinds of butts which have been placed in all kinds of places prior to resting them on these buses' seats. I know, I know, the red interior with the white cushion just makes you think of a classy lounge, but sister, this is not a lounge. Why do I care? I care because maintaining these seats will cost a lot of money, and who do you think will foot the bill at the end of the day? ME!

Well, I think SBSTransit did try, but they are doing it in half measures and that's what is all wrong with it. They have crossed the concept of a luxury coach with the need to squeeze in as many people as possible. The result is a monstrosity. Now, how can they ask for more money when their best effort is so, err, monstrously incompetent? Perhaps the Transport Minister and everyone on the PTC should ride one of these buses for the experience and decide how much more commuters should pay next year. must be a crowded one, though, so that they can make the most use of their butt muscles. The experience will be different otherwise.


Anonymous said...

Just shows that this was bad advertising, since you did not notice this was an ad for Nokia Music phones

Epilogos said...

Oh really? You mean Nokia paid to remodel the entire interior of one bus? That's incredible. It must have cost Nokia a lot of money. Once the ad campaign is over, SBSTransit will revert to their tried and test internal decor? I say 'wow' again. But you are right, I wouldn't have known that Nokia had anything to do with this if you had not mentioned it.