Friday, September 5, 2008

playing tarzan on the bus
(photo of an stc bus from the national archives of singapore)

just found out that there were at least 11 bus services serving the whole of singapore in the 60s. they were: changi bus company limited, easy bus company, green bus company limited, hock lee amalgamated bus company limited, kampong bahru bus service limited, katong-bedok bus service limited, keppel bus company limited, paya lebar bus service company, puggol bus service company, singapore traction company (stc) and tay koh yat bus company limited.

of the 11, the two biggest were singapore traction company and tay koh yat. stc had a depot at mackenzie road and tay koh yat had one at thomson road, where the concorde block of apartments now stands. these were the same two bus services which i was more familiar with.

i would take the tay koh yat bus to tekka occasionally and to beach road almost daily to get to school. when i was in primary school, i sometimes took the stc service number 1 to clemenceau avenue. i also remember the few times i took the changi bus from capitol theatre to changi point.

i was quite naive when it came to payment for the bus-ride. once, i accompanied a neighbour to tekka. i did not have the money to pay for the fare and so he gave me a treat. when we boarded the bus, he handed the conductor some money and i overheard him say "5 cents, two tickets". not knowing that he had paid 10 cents, i had this silly idea that you could request two tickets with a 5-cent payment.

those morning rides to school were something i did not look forward to. sometimes i chose to walk all the way to school. the buses were so crowded that most times you could not get on board the first bus that came along. when i finally managed to get a grip on the bus, i usually had to cling on to the hand hold for dear life, literally.

in our teenage and youthful years, we liked to 'play tarzan' when boarding and alighting the public buses. what is meant by 'play tarzan'? well, we acted macho and hopped onto the moving bus just as it was pulling out of the bus-stop and we jumped off the bus even before it came to a complete stop. you had to do it right or else you might end up with an embarrassing fall.when alighting, you had to jump backwards to counter the forward momentum.

in those days, every bus had a driver and a conductor. the driver did not need to double up as a fare collector. his job was to drive. the fare collection was done by the bus conductor. there were no specially built bus bays for buses to stop; the buses stopped at the bus-stop by the side of the road.


Victor said...

What a coincidence! Only yesterday, Peter and I were discussing the closing down of STC at Mackenzie Road. Watch out for his post on GMY soon. Don't miss the bus. :)

nah said...

In those days, it was not uncommon to see male commuters jumped off the bus even before it came to a complete stop. These buses had no doors, and if you were the first person to alight, standing on the lowest step, it was the natural thing to do.

peter said...

STC had 2 depots - Mackenzie Road and Upper Aljuneid Road

yg said...

peter, thanks for the correction and info. i was not aware that there was another stc depot. said...

Like old buses? Tekka (pun intended!) Alooka This dudes

Unknown said...

did the buses had bells