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SBS Transit - Press Release
SBS Transit - Press Release
Archive - August '05

SBS Transit 12 Frontline Staff Receive Star Award
4 August 2005 – He did not think twice about getting out of his driver's seat to help an elderly passenger board his bus. For that, and for consistently going the extra mile, Bus Captain Chieng Cheinq Ere was awarded a Special Tribute and Recognition (STAR) Award today. He is one of 12 SBS Transit frontline staff - who were honoured as “STARs” at a presentation ceremony today.

The STAR Award is given annually to outstanding SBS Transit frontline staff who consistently provided excellent customer service, demonstrated good product knowledge and showed commitment to safe driving for a period of at least three years. Each STAR Award recipient is carefully selected based on this stringent set of criteria (see list attached).

To date, 240 frontline staff from SBS Transit have received the STAR awards. This year, another 10 bus captains and 2 traffic inspectors will join this hall of fame.

Each STAR award recipient receives $500 cash, a 22k gold STAR pendant with his name engraved on it and a STAR collar pin to be worn as part of his uniform.

In further recognition of their excellent services, SBS Transit specially painted two double-deck buses featuring these STAR award recipients. The buses will ply on SBS Transit Services 23 and 74. Posters on these ‘STARs’ are also produced for display at SBS Transit bus interchanges and major bus terminals.

At the STAR ceremony today, SBS Transit chairman, Mr Lim Jit Poh, said he looked forward to the day when all SBS Transit frontline staff were “STARs”. Calling it zero defect.

He said : “We are in a service industry. Our staff play a big part in our performance. Though the standard of this STAR award is set high, they are attainable. I urge all staff to continue to put in their best efforts to serve our customers well. With the right mindset and attitude, they can deliver excellent service to our customers and their efforts recognised."

In conjunction with the STAR Award, Mr Lim also presented Zero Accident Awards to 5 workshops that have achieved the Key Performance Indicator of zero case of industrial accidents for the year under review.

Service 23 is a loop service plying from Tampines Bus Interchange to Rochor Canal road.

Service 74 operates between Hougang Central and Buona Vista..

Click here to see Chairman's speech


Mr Ong Ah Heng, Member of Parliament and Executive Secretary, National Transport Workers Union,

BG Yam Ah Mee, Chief Executive, Land Transport Authority,

Fellow directors Mr Kua Hong Pak, Deputy Chairman and ComfortDelGro’s Managing Director/Group Chief Executive Officer,

Mr Ong Boon Leong, Executive Director,

Mr John de Payva, Board Director and President of NTUC,

Mr Chin Harn Tong, Board Director,

Mr David Wong, Board Director,


Ladies and gentlemen,

A very warm welcome and good morning to all of you. Thank you for taking time off from your busy schedule to attend this function which is to reward our outstanding frontline staff. The fact that so many of us are here this morning signifies the importance of staff welfare and motivation.

Let me say from the very outset that Singaporeans have every reason to be very proud of our land transport system. It is well regulated, efficient and affordable. It is well regulated in the sense that all the stakeholders are operating in a very transparent and accountable environment. It is efficient because we have been able to provide a very extensive coverage both in terms of geography and through the day and this is done without any operating subsidy from the Government. And as the recent Report of the Committee on the Fare Review Mechanism shows, compared to the other developed cities in the world, our fares are very affordable. I speak from my experience as well as my position as Chairman of the ComfortDelGro Group which as you know is ranked number two in the world in terms of fleet size and has a footprint with extensive exposure not only in Singapore but also in developed countries like UK, Scotland and Ireland and developing countries like the People’s Republic of China and Vietnam.

As you know land transport is very political. The more advanced the development of a country, the more vocal her commuters. We did not have such loud views that we often hear and read about today when I was a schoolboy growing up in the fifties and working in the sixties. We were lucky if we had buses and taxis on the roads, let alone modern and safety buses with television on board as well as our very modern trains. But a majority of our commuters today in Singapore have not experienced that and they therefore expect and demand a lot. That’s alright so long as they understand the entire picture and appreciate the situation. Yes we must provide a reliable, safe and affordable service. Hence the industry is regulated by the LTA and the Public Transport Council (PTC). Nobody quarrels over this. In fact it is working extremely well and many cities in the developing countries are admiring us and hoping that one day they too will have such a system.

Take the example of our fares. They are based on an approved formula, derived by a group of people comprising MP’s, grassroot leaders, CASE and academics. It was debated and adopted by the Parliament and the Government. It is a fair formula. Despite that we still have to justify our proposals yearly. PTC is now very open and releases details of submissions by public transport operators. If you care to examine and compare the various proposals by the public transport operators in the latest exercise, you will realize that SBS Transit is very responsible, understanding and reasonable. We take this annual submission very seriously as this is a very vital subject affecting practically every household daily. We discuss it at length at the board level. It is not just from the business angle that we crystallize our thought. We take great pain to understand the effect that our proposals will have on the commuters before we come to our conclusions. In the last exercise we deliberately did not want to increase fares for schoolchildren. We wanted to provide further concessions to the elderly. We also wanted to contribute substantially to a transport fund for the needy, a fund that is not administered by us. It is therefore no surprise that when the PTC had made its decision on our proposals, we immediately proceeded to implement what we had declared. We are therefore very transparent and play no tricks in this important subject of bus and train fares.

We pledge to provide a reliable, safe and affordable service all the time. In this respect we have bus routes catering to both busy and outlying areas. We review them all the time so as to meet the changing needs of our population. This year alone, we expect to introduce 40 new services. So, while we are conscious of our responsibility to our shareholders, we believe there must be a proper balance between profitability and service. This is what is meant by being responsible. In terms of delivery, we have met the high standards dictated by the authorities in such areas as headway adherence. In fact we have surpassed these high standards very well. However, unlike the trains, our buses share road space with other road users. As such, there are often times when the roads are congested and reliability is affected. Indeed, when the evening ERP was introduced on the CTE a few days ago, our buses experienced slower traffic along the Serangoon corridor. What this means is that we will have to continue to work closely with the authorities to ensure that a smooth flowing traffic is achieved on our roads especially for buses as they are the most efficient carriers of people. More and bolder traffic schemes will be needed.

For safety our records speak for themselves. For the three year period 2002-2004, the average accident is 0.58 per 100,000 km travelled. This is far better than the standard set by the PTC at or less than 0.75. And we are still working to lower this.

In short, SBS Transit has indeed delivered what it promises and that is a reliable, safe and affordable service.

To the shareholders we have given them a respectable and reasonable return. I have told them so at our last annual general meeting and convinced them to be reasonable and realistic in their expectations. I also advised them that the new fare formula is fair and we have accepted it without question. No shareholder doubts or questions what we do. This is our satisfaction. For this I wish, on behalf of the Board of Directors, to thank the management for a job well done. Of course there is always room for improvement. We shall not fall into the trap of complacency.

What is published in the newspapers are opinions and experiences encountered by the vocal commuters or so called armchair critics. We have also received numerous compliments and appreciation. In numerical terms it is an average of a double digit figure daily for 2004. These are in the form of personal expression, telephone calls, letters and emails. Most of you do not see or hear them. We are encouraged by these and indeed they inspire and motivate us to improve further so as to serve the commuters better.

We are in a service industry. Our staff play a big part in our performance. This Special Tribute And Recognition or STAR award is just another way to recognize, appreciate, and motivate our staff. All our bus captains and traffic inspectors are eligible for these awards since the scheme was started eight years ago in 1997. Together with this year’s winners we shall have a total of 206 bus captains and 46 traffic inspectors winning these awards out of a total population of close to 5,000 bus captains and 200 traffic inspectors. These numbers are, in my mind, still small. I would like to see everyone of our eligible staff becoming a winner of this award. This is what we term in technical language, zero defect. It is not a competition. Everyone can achieve it so long as you put your heart and mind into it. But I have been told that it is not easy to win these awards as they are based on consistent excellent customer service, a good command of product knowledge and a commitment to safe driving over a period of at least three years. In fact, the minimum period of three years is one reason why you do not see any of our train staff receiving the award this time round since we just started revenue services for our NEL and LRT systems in 2003. I am confident that come next year, our train staff will be well represented. In short, our standards have to be set high but they are attainable. That’s the beauty of the scheme.

Of late, much has been discussed on security on buses and trains. We take this subject very seriously. This is our business and we have to do our best to protect the commuters under our care during the period they are with us whether in buses or trains or taxis. This is our mission. This is our task. This is our responsibility. We owe it to the commuters, the authorities and the shareholders to discharge this undertaking.

This morning we are also presenting awards to our own workshops which have attained zero industrial accident. People in the workshops also play an equally important role in maintaining our vehicles so that these buses are safe when they are out on the roads. Recognition of their performance is important and meaningful. Do not forget about them even though they are not in the frontline. They are a crucial component of our team. I am glad that management has instituted schemes to recognize their contributions.

In a service industry every staff member counts. You are crucial to our success and we treasure you. On this note let us work together to provide safe, reliable and affordable journeys for our commuters.

Finally let me congratulate all the winners here today on a job well done. You should be proud to join the ranks of those ahead of you. Continue to show your commitment of what you have done over the years. The real test lies in you maintaining and winning future awards.
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