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Singapore Traction Company begins operations 1st Oct 1925

On 1 October 1925, the Singapore Traction Company (STC) began operations under the management of the Shanghai Electric Construction Company (London).[1] Through the enactment of the Singapore Traction Ordinance, the company enjoyed a monopoly of the trolley bus service. It also dominated the motor bus routes in the city although there were no statutory privileges established for motor buses.[2]

The STC’s trolley bus service commenced on 14 August 1926, plying a route between Joo Chiat Road and Tanjong Pagar.[3] By 1929, the company had 90 trolley buses serving 19 routes, as well as motor buses.[4]

During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942–1945), the facilities of the STC and other bus companies were combined under the management of a single, island-wide bus operator.[5] After the Japanese surrender in 1945, the STC found that only 29 of its trolley buses and 22 of its motor buses were serviceable and orders had to be placed for more vehicles.[6] In December 1962, the company’s trolley bus service ceased operations.[7] By the 1960s, the STC was running at a loss[8] as operations were affected by employee strikes[9] and competition from pirate taxis.[10]

Control of the STC – originally registered in the United Kingdom – was transferred into local hands in 1964.[11] A new company, which was registered under the same name as the original STC, was incorporated in Singapore on 19 September 1964, and entered into an agreement with the old STC to acquire all its undertakings, property and assets.[12]

On 30 June 1970, all other bus operators in Singapore were amalgamated into three large companies, following a restructuring of the country’s bus services. Each company, including the STC, was given a particular sector of the island in which to operate. This change came into effect on 11 April 1971.[13] However by December that same year, the STC, which had already been incurring heavy losses, was placed under receivership and ceased to operate.[14]

With the intercession of the government, the other three bus companies agreed to purchase the 407 buses belonging to the STC for S$2.75 million and take over the company’s 33 bus routes. The last day of operation of STC’s buses was 5 December 1971.[15]

1. Page 5 Advertisements Column 2: Singapore Electric Tramways. (1925, September 28). The Singapore Free Press, p. 5; Singapore Electric Tramways Co. (1924, May 12). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 7. Retrieved rom NewspaperSG.
2. Straits Settlements. The Laws of the Straits Settlements. (1925, June 5). Singapore Traction Ordinance 1925 (Ord. 7 of 1925, pp. 1–39) [Microfilm: NL4458]. Singapore: Printed at the Govt. Print. Office; Hawkins, L. C. & Singapore. Commission of Inquiry into the Public Passenger Transport System. (1956). Report (pp. 28, 32). Singapore: Government Printing Office. Call no.: RCLOS 388.3 SIN; Singapore. Legislative Assembly. Debates: Official Report (1959, March 3). Oral answers to questions: Operation of passenger-transport services by the S.T.C. and other passenger-transport companies under different ordinances. (Vol. 9, col. 2069). Retrieved April 25, 2014, from Parliament of Singapore website: http://sprs.parl.gov.sg/search/report.jsp?currentPubID=00068953-ZZ
3. Trolley buses. (1926, August 13). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Ong, C. H. (Ed.) (1991). Guide to the sources of history in Singapore (Vol. 2, p. 14). Singapore: National Archives. Call no.: RSING 016.95957 GUI-[LIB].
5. York, F. W., & Philips, A. R. (1996). Singapore: A history of its trams, trolleybuses & buses, Vol. 1, 1880’s to 1960’s (p 58). Surrey: DTS Publishing Ltd. Call no.: RSING q388.41322095957 YOR; Singapore Traction Company (1964) Limited. (1971). Singapore bus guide 1971 (p. 11). Singapore: Associated Bus Services. Call no.: RCLOS 388.3221 SBG.
6. Hawkins & Singapore Commission of Inquiry into the Public Passenger Transport System, 1956, p. 7.
7. Off for good: S’pore trolley buses (1962, December 16). The Sunday Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Yeo, J. (1968, December 11). STC bonus cut to one-third. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. STC buses back on the roads. (1956, February 16). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewpaperSG.
10. ‘Stolen’ by pirate taxis: 6 mil passengers from buses. (1966, February 7). The Straits Times, p. 7; ‘STC saved from very grave, critical situation’. (1968, April 27). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Singapore Traction Company (1964) Limited. (1966). Annual report 1965, unpaged. Singapore: Singapore Traction Company (1964) Limited. Call no.: RCLOS 338.47388322 STCLAR; Singapore board takes over STC from London. (1964, January 23). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Singapore Traction Company, 1966, unpaged.
13. Ong, 1991, p. 15; Singapore Traction Company (1964) Limited, 1971, pp. 7, 11.
14. Singapore Traction Company (1964) Limited. (1973). Directors’ report and accounts for the year ended 30th Sep 1972, p. 3. Singapore: Singapore Traction Company (1964) Limited. Call no.: RCLOS 338.47388322 STCLAR; Singapore Traction Company (1964) Limited. (1974). Directors’ report and accounts for the year ended 30th Sep 1973, p. 4. Singapore: Singapore Traction Company (1964) Limited. Call no.: RCLOS 338.47388322 STCLAR.
15. Yeo, J. (1971, December 4). Last bus tomorrow. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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