Bus 186

This isn’t the first time, and I doubt it will be the last. Yes. The bus which I take to school and back home broke down again. It is not important how many thimes it broke down in total if it doesn’t concern me, but I have encountered such incidents thrice already. This is ridiculous.

I was about to board the bus when the driver told me, “Boy, don’t board, something is wrong with the bus – overheating,” I was like,”Okay. Hey, there is smoke billowing from the back of the bus!” The bus driver quickly got down, went to the back of the bus and lifted the lid of the engine. True enough, it was extremely smoky and the air smells like it has just received a huge dose of tar. He got everyone off the bus and told them to take another bus.

I would probably have captured a snap of the smoky bus if not for the fact that I don’t usually bring my camera to school. Too bad for people who have never experienced this. And also for people like me who have experience too much of such misfortune. Service 186 is a very special SBS bus and it is not a day I took to come to such conclusion. It is a period of more than 3 and a half years. Here are some features of Bus 186, which other SBS buses probably do not possess.

Not fully air-conditioned, and the number of air-conditioned 186 buses is definitely a one digit number that is less than 5. For non-Singaporeans, ‘non-fully air-conditioned’ doesn’t mean the first half of the bus has air-conditioners but not the back; it means that there are buses of this service number with air-conditioners and those without.

Lousy drivers; they have drivers who speed past bus stops without bothering if there are people thinking about boarding the bus. There are also a huge group who stops by at every single bus stop on the route, regardless if there are people in the bus stop, or whether anyone is about to alight.

It breaks down at a higher frequency than any other service numbers. I have no explanation for this, and it is simply my deduction, but I thought that it is amazing for such buses to break down so many times when the old buses (such as those of the City Shuttle Service), do not really break down at all.

Long distance, yet the first bus is extremely late. The first bus leaves Shenton Way Interchange at 6.00am – I am not sure if the driver sometimes slack or whatever, but anyway, it is damn late, considering the fact that the first of the same bus moving in the opposite direction starts at 5.30am. I wonder why they have different timing for the different direction. Anyway, it goes from Shenton Way all the way to remote places like St. Michael, or whatever.

Worst, they want to raise the bus fees! With such world-class bus services, one can expect anything out of the world to happen – whether it is overheating of the engine, lack of power in the battery box, or something wrong with the accelerator, 186 simply has to cause me trouble. In fact, its waiting time is already irking me. 8-13 minutes of waiting for peak hours and 15-19 minutes of waiting for off-peak. In this era when time is everything – when I didn’t actually think blogging about this is productive but I still did – how can I be spending so much time at the bus stop? World-class. Yeah, right!

Yes, I benefit from the service. If not for the existence of this bus, I would have to walk a few extra hundred metres to reach the bus stop with another bus that happens to cross the road of a particular bus that reaches my school directly. In case you don’t know what I am talking about, I actually mean that in any case, I still have to change bus and so the bus company is already squeezing me dry with me having to pay almost double the fare. Well, it is true that i purchase the concession stamp but that doesn’t mean they can do anything to try squeeze everyone else dry.

I thought it would be nice to get to know a bus driver, especially those driving me to and fro school. Unfortunately, SBS probably changes their driving schedule as fast as they refill their bus fuel tanks – I see a different face sitting on the drivers’ seat everytime I board the bus to go to school, even when the timing is exactly the same. The big problem is that while the driver is different, the bus is forever that SBS1834E (not reliable because the plate is rather weather-worn; I couldn’t see it properly), which is old, jerky, spoil-more-than-twice-but-somehow-managed-to-recover, smelly, dirty, not waterproof (so I am extremely unlucky on rainy days), has rusty railing to hold on to and finally, the windows have to be opened yourself (the big problem here is that the window is old and rusty, thus, the friction between the plastic window and the railing is tremedous, making loads of squeaky sounds when you open it). And if you are real unlucky, you might not even be able to push open the window!

I don’t like the idea of owning a car, nor taking a bus – especially when you are in a country like Singapore. Forget it, I think people like me have long migrated somewhere else. I am beginning (actually it is more of continuing) to wonder why I am still here. Okay, maybe it isn’t that bad. It is not as if Mib is enjoying himself.

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