ECP vs MRT • Downtown to Tampines West with SBS Transit Express Bus 513

SBS Transit Express Bus 513 from Downtown to Tampines West

SBS Transit Express Bus 513 is a peak-hour-only Express service between Tampines and Shenton Way, operating uni-directionally from Tampines to Shenton Way on weekday mornings and from Shenton Way to Tampines on weekday evenings only. With a long express sector on the East Coast Parkway (ECP), SBS Transit Express Bus 513 is another candidate to put against the MRT to see if buses or trains are faster when parallel with the ECP.

Boarding SBS Transit Express 513 from Bus Stop 03381 The Sail
– Downtown MRT Station

Bus Stop 03381 The Sail serves the Raffles Place vicinity, and is close by to Downtown MRT Station. For a fair-ish comparison to the Downtown Line, I started my journey from here.

The rather express route of Express 513 towards Tampines West.

There are only two eastbound departures towards Tampines West on weekdays only, so Express 513 functions more like a City Direct service rather than a regular Express bus.

At 6.27pm, my Express 513 pulled in to Bus Stop 03381 The Sail, commencing the journey to the east.

Bus Stop 03391 Marina Bay Financial Ctr
– Downtown MRT Station

Express 513 also stops at Bus Stop 03391 Marina Bay Financial Ctr before hitting the express sector. This bus stop is also accessible to and from Downtown MRT Station via Marina Bay Link Mall.

The interior of the upper deck of the Volvo B9TL (CDGE) with lots of space to stretch out as compared to the MRT.

Express 513 heads to the ECP via Sheares Avenue, offering a scenic ride out of the city.

Heading on to Sheares Avenue by Marina Bay Sands.

Passing by Gare Dens By The Bay.

Heading over Marina Bay like the old SBS Transit Bus Service 30.

Passing by the Promenade area.

Heading on to Benjamin Sheares Bridge.

Passing over the F1 Pit Building with a view of the Singapore Flyer.

Heading down from Benjamin Sheares Bridge.

Cruising slowly along the ECP thanks to Trapeze.

Taking the Xilin Avenue exit.

Passing by Changi Depot.

All bus stops along Xilin Avenue and Simei Avenue are skipped.

Passing under the new upcoming viaducts leading to the modified Tanah Merah MRT Station and
East Coast Integrated Depot.

Passing over the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE).

Entering Tampines on Tampines Avenue 5.

Turning left towards Tampines West.

Bus Stop 75059 Bef Tampines West Stn is the first bus stop served in Tampines after the long express sector.

Arriving at Bus Stop 75059 Bef Tampines West Stn on SBS Transit Express 513
– Tampines West MRT Station

I alighted at Bus Stop 75059 Bef Tampines West Stn for Tampines West MRT Station for this race against the train.

I alighted from Express 513 at 7.00pm, making this a journey time of 33 minutes.

Comparing with the Downtown Line on Google Maps, the journey time on Express 513 is 1 minute longer than the MRT. Therefore, it is a failed race.

With the Express 513 departing twice a day, as compared with the Downtown Line departing twice in 5 minutes during peak hours, and factoring in the journey time, the Express 513 unfortunately does not save you effort and travel time in getting you from Downtown to Tampines West.

However, the terms in this race may change if you are heading to other bus stops in Tampines West served directly by Express 513 as it will save you transfer time.


Overall, the results are quite clear – SBS Transit Express Bus Service 513 is not faster than the Downtown MRT Line despite a full express sector from Downtown to Tampines West. If you’re looking for a comfortable fully-seated journey, go for Express 513. Otherwise, the Downtown Lines comes every 2 minutes during peak periods and transports you between Downtown and Tampines West at most times of the day, not just twice a day.

There is one thing that is severely affecting the journey time though, which can be solved pretty quickly.

Throughout the whole journey, the Trapeze CFMS on board showed a blue colour. Being a uni-directional Express bus service with passengers travelling in a single direction, and no Tampines resident in their right mind will be waiting for a twice-a-day evening peak hour bus to travel within Tampines West, I don’t understand why the Express 513 bus schedule is so rigid for Trapeze to be telling the bus captain to slow down throughout the 40km/h ECP journey and trying to catch the red lights along Xilin Avenue.

I highly recommend removing arrival times at bus stops for uni-directional Express bus services with no passengers reasonably boarding. That way, buses can travel normally at 50km/h on expressway sectors without trying to slow down and meet the slow schedule that Trapeze is giving. The bus captain will also be able to return the bus to the interchange or depot earlier and he or she can enjoy a longer break, while not annoying passengers with a Sentosa Beach Tram experience on the ECP.

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