By Yong Hui Ting
A trio of second-year students launched a shuttle bus service on Aug 23 that ferries students from the east of Singapore to NTU every Sunday night at S$5 a ride.
Dubbed Tele Bus, the new shuttle bus picks up passengers from opposite the Tampines Skate Park at 10pm and from the Sengkang MRT station at 10.15pm.
Once at NTU, passengers can choose to alight at the Hall 1, Hall 2, Opposite Hall 16 or Opposite Saraca Hall bus stops.
Trips take around 30 minutes and customers can book their seats via a Google form on the Tele Bus Telegram channel, which has 319 subscribers as of press time.
Business student Snowden Chua and Economics students Ong Tjin Yang and Lim En Quan were inspired to launch Tele Bus due to their own experiences getting to school.
“We all stay in the east and dread having to take long and tiring public transportation back to school,” said Ong, who oversees publicity for Tele Bus.
Ong said that he often had to join long queues whenever he took NTU’s free shuttle bus service, which picks up staff and students from six locations across Singapore on weekday mornings, and was never certain if he could get a seat.
“So we were thinking of offering a weekly service for students who are willing to pay a little more, so they can enjoy the comfort and convenience of going back to hall,” he added.
Tele Bus customer Samuel Neo, 24, used to wake up before dawn on Mondays to catch the free 7am NTU shuttle bus from Sengkang to the university.
To secure a seat on the free shuttle service, the Year 4 Civil Engineering student made sure to always get in line at least 30 minutes before the bus arrived.
“The queue escalates pretty quickly once it gets past 6.30am,” he said.
“It’s nice not having to wake up too early to catch the bus,” said Neo, who now gets two extra hours of sleep on Monday mornings, having returned to school the night before.
Electrical and Electronic Engineering student Bryan Teo, 23, said that taking the new shuttle bus is less of a hassle than taking public transport to school.
“If I take public transport, I have to take the MRT and transfer buses in between. It takes me 1 hour and 50 minutes to get to school altogether,” said Teo, who is also the Junior Common Room Committee president at Hall of Residence 16.
The third-year student said he does not mind paying the S$5 fee for a quick ride to school, which is more affordable than the S$30 cab ride from Sengkang to the university.
To launch the service, the Tele Bus team pooled a few hundred dollars to rent a pair of 40-seater buses. Ong said it costs up to S$150 to rent a bus, depending on the pick-up location and route.
The three friends then surveyed students for the most popular pick-up locations in Singapore, and received 110 responses.
Since its launch, at least 50 student customers have used Tele Bus.
Ong said Tele Bus may eventually run on a daily basis with pick-up and drop-off timings suitable for students not staying in Halls of Residence, but added that this will only happen if demand continues to grow and the business becomes profitable.
The project did not break even on launch day and the team declined to reveal their earnings.
“Ultimately, we want to continue this service in the long run and we want it to benefit students who stay far away from school,” said Ong.
“But it is a business and a business cannot run on losses forever.”