The OCA team clinched the NUS Safety & Health Award 2020 in March 2021: Seated (from left to right): Tan Swee Chin, Yeo Chin Hoon, Leonard Li. Standing (from left to right): Zaharudin Bin Juma'At, Raymond Teo, Priscilla Kok

Hop on for a smoother bus ride

Did you know that the NUS Internal Shuttle Buses (ISB) cover a whopping distance of 1,112,430 km collectively on our campuses annually? That makes it about 27 trips around the earth!

Since 1985, the NUS ISB have been the core transport provider, serving generations of students across Kent Ridge Campus as well as Bukit Timah Campus. Its reliable network of services has expanded and improved over the years to keep pace with the flurry of new developments such as Prince George’s Park Residences and University Town.  

Riding on the wave of IT and digitalisation, the Office of Campus Amenities (OCA) recently employed digital tools and technologies to better manage ISB’s operations such as assessing driver safety and reviewing travel patterns of commuters. Through a statistical and data-driven approach, coupled with the technical expertise and stakeholder engagement, OCA came up with a new ISB network design in July 2021, which would best suit passenger demand patterns and stakeholders’ interests. The network was based on a genetic algorithm using data from multiple data sources such as commuters’ origins and destination matrices, student timetabling data, and Wi-Fi and telco data.

Ms Priscilla Kok, Associate Director in OCA, said, “Other than solely relying on data to establish the new network, we also conducted a series of engagement with staff and students from various faculties and schools, student faculty clubs as well as halls and residences to understand their pain points and how the design of the new network can help them.”

To further improve commuting experience, Priscilla and her team at OCA also introduced a route-finding function in the NUS NextBus application. This function will enable commuters to check which ISB service they should take to their next destination from their present location. “We understand that some commuters may need some time to familiarise themselves with the new network,” explained Priscilla. “The new function was designed with these commuters in mind to ease them into the familiarisation process”.

Formerly seconded to the Organisational Excellence Transformation Unit, Priscilla appreciates the importance of change management and the need for continuous engagement with stakeholders. “I have learned that heart-ware and hardware are both equally important in design implementation. We also need to take care of the ‘softer’ aspect of things when we make decisions to achieve buy-in,” she added.

The team now has another important task ahead. To support the University’s ongoing efforts for a smart, safe and sustainable campus, it is currently exploring sustainable commuting options to reduce the overall carbon emission. As such, in time to come, the campus community can look forward to a smooth and eco-friendly commute on NUS’ very own fleet of electric buses!

Organisational Excellence is a strategic initiative undertaken by the University to develop best practices for an efficient and world-class administration to better support NUS’ Vision and Mission. It aims to bring about improved work processes and policies as well as create opportunities for talent development and growth.


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