A Stretch of Upper Changi Road near Toh Crescent and Toh Drive today.
What struck me about the pictures of Upper Changi Road was how quiet the road looked – and there were no buses! In the 1960s Upper Changi Road was the main route between Changi Village and the City and buses flew down it every few minutes at busy times.
And what buses they were! They were old and well used, rattled like mad and travelled with all the windows down – and that was just as well because they had shaken and rattled so much that the window glass had gone crazed and was opaque, nothing could be seen through them!
Those buses were the main means of transport for me and my friends – no Mass Transit system existed in those days. We would wait on Upper Changi Road for our frequent trips to the Village and the airbase swimming pool. Suddenly a bus would fly over the brow of the hill near Changi prison – and it might be more than one, they seemed to race each other and sometimes arrived in groups. Then we would rush onto the hard seats and spend the journey sliding around and hanging on as the bus flew onwards.
There are two other things I always recall about those buses – if you travelled at night you might see the biggest cockroaches ever. And then there were the bus tickets. Well the tickets need explaining - they were small coloured card tickets and they had numbers on them. Being teenage boys we had a game with those numbers – add up the digits and if they came to a special number, like 18 or 21, then you were in luck with your girlfriend - I won’t go into more detail! I wonder if similar games go on today.
So what are the buses like today? Air-conditioned and cockroach free? Driven carefully, with comfortable seats and with no rattles? I would be interested to hear from today’s Singaporeans.
Footnote: Thank you and a big welcome to Brian for sharing this story from the 1960's. We look forward to more stories from him. Thanks also to Peter Tan for the photo below of 1960’s bus tickets of the Paya Lebar Bus Company. Notice the interesting way of writing "5 cents" in Chinese – Lam Chun See.