Bus interchanges have long been a communal focal point for the Singaporean commuter, moving them onto buses within the hub-and-spoke public transportation model. As they wait, bus interchanges ensure commuters stay nourished, hydrated, and entertained by friendly store operators.
On 18 November 2011, before the MRT system started collectively breaking down, the last bus pulled out of Bedok Bus Interchange successfully. The next day, the dismantling began, and its 29 bus services began to emerge from the new temporary facility across the road.
By 2015, the single-storey, open-air Bedok Bus Interchange, which opened in 1979, will be replaced by a 15-storey mixed use development. This is as part of HDB’s “Remaking our Heartland” plan, which would locate this neighbourhood in the new “Gateway to the East Coast”. The updated Bedok Bus Interchange will consist of 583 glossy-looking private apartments, a shopping mall, and an air-conditioned interchange connected to the MRT station.
For photographer Lim Yaohui, the closure of Singapore’s longest surviving bus interchange held some significance. As a child, he would pass it on his way to the adjacent hawker centre, which houses many famous food stalls and, over the years, became synonymous with the interchange. The interchange proper had sawtooth and end-on berths, and served buses operated by SBS Transit, SMRT, Trans-Island Bus Services (now merged with SMRT) and the now defunct City Shuttle Service.
Lim visited Bedok Bus Interchange on both its last day of operations and the day after. “It was a little disheartening,” he says, “the future generation may not even know this kind of bus interchange existed.”
Images Lim Yaohui
Words Chow Yong Jun
Opened in 1979, Bedok Bus Interchange predates the MRT by nearly a decade. The first SBS bus interchange to open was the former Jurong Bus Interchange, which commenced operations in 1978 and closed in the mid-1990s, before eventually being demolished.
The conversion of Bedok Bus Interchange follows in the footsteps of Toa Payoh, the first air-conditioned invention of its sort. Others that have since followed are Sengkang, Ang Mo Kio, Boon Lay, Serangoon, and Clementi. Yishun, Tampines, and Bukit Panjang interchanges are also going into the cool.
Double exposure: Bedok was once a hotspot of moving pictures, with cinemas such as Princess, Bedok, Changi, Liwagu, and Raja. They have all since closed, but ID photos still can be taken.
A sawtooth berth being dismantled on 19 November 2011, a Saturday, one day after Bedok Bus Interchange closed.
29 bus routes operated out of the interchange, including route 197, which carried Easties over thirty kilometres across the island to Jurong East via Bugis and Jalan Bukit Merah. Both Bedok and Jurong East Bus Interchanges are currently undergoing redevelopment.
Prior to the millennium, commuters would queue at the ticket office to purchase monthly concession stamps for bus travel. Many commuters also recall using the pink-backed TransitLink cards for students, discontinued in 2002 and replaced by stored value EZ-Link cards.
Bedok interchange will be replaced by 2015 with an integrated development that will include a shopping mall, a transportation hub connected to Bedok MRT station and apartments (including penthouses) in the Bedok Residences condominium.