Surviving the ‘No Shuttle Bus Challenge’

Here’s an issue at hand that causes us NUS students great grief regardless of our faculty, academic year, timetable, and even perhaps affects our professors too. 

My gripe: the massive crowd that always gathers on board the NUS Shuttle Bus.

Usually, I take crowding as an inconvenience that I, like everyone else, have to put up with on a regular basis. But after having been personally manhandled by almost every person trying to get on and off the bus, having been caught awkwardly in a private conversation between two friends (on whether or not it was a good idea to head out for late night drinks), having fallen over countless times when the driver, as always, decides to apply maximum pressure on the brakes at the least necessary instance… I drew the line.

‘NUS is not that big’, I thought, “and I am healthy, I can walk. And I’m out of here!’ So, thus began my week-long No Shuttle Bus Challenge.

The face of someone who doesn’t know what heat he’s about to face…

Day 1: Monday

UTown ➡ Arts ➡ UTown

I woke up highly determined to show to those orange busses that I could live without them, and that I could still get to my lessons, meetings and appointments on time.

I started my day at UTown for a meeting, followed by my plans to have lunch with friends at The Deck in Arts. So began my first test, an uphill battle (literally) from UTown to Arts. It was a typical day in Singapore, and by typical, I mean hot – a burning 33°C.

There’s an uphill section that I had to scale between the Yusof Ishak House (YIH) and Arts. ‘I could either take the sheltered route from the back of YIH or walk along Kent Ridge Crescent’, I thought to myself, before deciding to take the latter route. ‘This would allow me to be away from (dreaded) stairs …’ That quickly turned into a bad however, leaving me at the mercy of the Singapore midday sun. I arrived at The Deck for lunch with all the glamour of a secondary school kid having recess after going for a strenuous Physical Education (PE) class.

After lunch, my friends and I had a lesson back in UTown, and with this came my second test: having to convince my friends to accompany me on my long walk back. When I explained in exasperation that I was embarking on a shuttle bus ban, I was met with looks of ridicule. ‘Seriously bro?!’ However, the crowd that formed at the Computer Center bus stop saved me the trouble of convincing them further. The walk back to UTown was much more pleasant with my friends by my side (or maybe it’s because we were walking downhill).

Day 2: Tuesday

Arts ➡ UTown

Don’t you get irked when professors are supposed to end classes by the 35-minute mark, but never do? After my lecture in Arts today, I had a mere 15 minutes to head over to UTown for my next class. After class, I found myself at the Ventus bus stop after absentmindedly following my friend out of the auditorium. ‘I’m so reliant on the buses that it’s practically second nature to me!’ Anyway, as all Arts students know, Ventus is probably among the furthest spots in Arts from UTown. To make matters worse, the clock was ticking – I had 10 minutes left!

Taking a risk, my friend and I abandoned the wait for D1, proceeding instead to make the long walk over. As can be expected, we took a little more than 10 minutes. But to our surprise, D1 didn’t pass us while we made our ‘trek’ over. We’d have been even later if we were to have waited for the bus!

Day 3: Wednesday

It’s only been two days, but by now, I’ve felt myself getting more and more used to the challenge. I found that I wouldn’t even glance at the bus stop to see if there’s a massive crowd gathered or not. Also, I’ve gotten down for myself a rough estimate of the time it would take me to get around without the bus: It takes me 10 minutes to get from Arts to UTown and 15 back. Two more days, I can do this!

Day 4: Thursday

This was the best as I didn’t have to travel! My lessons were all in UTown! Such bliss.

Day 5: Friday.

Engineering ➡ UTown ➡ Kent Ridge

I found myself deep in the Faculty of Engineering (which I, by the way, was by no means familiar with), needing to get to UTown, and fast. The easiest way would, of course, be to head out and take the bus over. But I was almost at the end of my no-bus challenge, and so, I shall persevere.

After taking some (wrong) turns I found myself heading out of the Engineering Auditorium and to Raffles Hall. Thankfully, I had finally gathered my bearings, and my heading to UTown would again be a piece of cake. The entire journey took me little more than 10 minutes – and that was when I couldn’t even get my bearings right half the time!

Then came my final dilemma: getting out of school. My professor, taking advantage of the fact that it was the last lecture of the day, decided to extend his lesson, and left me with just 10 minutes to get to Kent Ridge MRT. Coincidentally, that’s the furthest part of campus from UTown. Looking at my watch, I decided that it was high time I broke my no-bus challenge and succumbed to the temptation of that orange machine. I promptly got on board, comforting myself with the fact that I would be horribly late and sweaty should I have rushed and walked to Kent Ridge MRT. However, within minutes, I was again confronted with the exact same reasons why I decided not to take on the challenge in the first place.

The driver, right on cue, applied the breaks with such unnecessary force that half of the passengers ended up losing their balance. Splat.

Taking the bus isn’t the only way to get around NUS!

Ever wondered how long it takes to get from one place in NUS to another? Daniyal and Elizabeth time their walks along NUS’ A & D bus routes so you know just how long it will take you to get from one place to another – without the crowd!

If you’ve got classes anywhere between Business to UTown, you can get your approximate timings from the route outlined in red, while if you’re making your way from Kent Ridge to Arts, the blue route’s for you!


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Infographic by Elizabeth Kamaldin

Dare you take up the Shuttle-Bus-Ban? Is it plain crazy or a good way to beat the shuttle bus crowds? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page!