BIDS close on March 1 for a concession to operate Singapore’s Northeast metro line. Before rushing off to Singapore, bear in mind that tenders have only been invited from local companies Trans-Island Bus Services and Singapore Bus Service. The winner will also be asked to run the Sengkang and Punggol light metro lines. According to Communications Minister Mah Bow Tan, the aim is to ensure integration of light metro, bus and heavy rail.

Very laudable, certainly, but integration of the new lines with Singapore’s MRT is a different matter. For example, the decision to use different technology for the Northeast line precludes inter-running and possible economies of scale. Be that as it may, SMRT may one day be granted the right to run buses. In this way Singapore will end up with two competing all-modes operators, ultimately driving up service standards.