SINGAPORE, Nov 26 — The initial phase of reopening of the land border via Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme between Malaysia and Singapore is meant to build confidence, according to the republic’s Transport Minister S Iswaran.
“It is not so much about how quickly and how wide the scale is, but it is more about building confidence by executing this well,” he said at a virtual press conference here today.
Iswaran was responding to a question posed by the media on why only two bus transport companies were appointed for the VTL scheme.
“I know that there is a great deal of interest and desire for people to want to embark on, for example, travel across the Causeway, but I think this is part of the initial step to commence that reopening,” he said.
Iswaran believed that the government agencies will be better able to assess together with their counterparts in Malaysia on the situation once the VTL commences.
Also, only then the broadening of the number of parties involved to facilitate travel and also whether it can be scaled up further can be considered.
The land VTL scheme will start along with the air VTL on November 29, allowing people who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel between the two countries without the need to undergo quarantine.
Those who opt for the land VTL scheme can only travel through bus services provided by Transtar Travel in Singapore and Handal Indah Sdn Bhd, which is also known as Causeway Link, in Malaysia.
There will be 32 land VTL designated bus services entering each country per day with a maximum capacity of 45 fully seated passengers per trip, meaning there will be 1,440 passengers each way per day.
Meanwhile, according to the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), bus tickets for travel over a 30-day period were still available for the land VTL scheme despite the big rush initially for the limited number of tickets when sales commenced at 8am yesterday.
The uptake appeared to be very slow on the first day with more than 90 per cent of Transtar Travel tickets and 70 per cent of Causeway Link tickets being still available as at 4pm yesterday.
Transtar Travel had sold about 4,400 bus tickets during the period for travel across the 30-day timeframe with three-quarter of the tickets being trips from Singapore to Malaysia, and the remaining the other way around.
On Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) applications for the land VTL, MTI said the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) had received a total of 240 VTP applications as of 3pm yesterday.
“Demand for the land VTL bus tickets and the volume of VTP applications likely to remain high, and processes will continue to be refined,” it said. — Bernama