Becoming frustrated with his job after eight years as a freelance IT support consultant, Mr Lee Shao Xiang decided it was time for a change. In February, the 29-year-old joined Tower Transit as a bus driver.
"I got sick and tired of IT, so I decided to look for a new challenge," said Mr Lee, who has a degree in computer science.
He is among the 30 per cent of Tower Transit's new bus captains to come from non-driving backgrounds. The Anglo-Australian firm, which began operations in May, currently has 994 staff, among them about 800 bus drivers.
Mr Lee said his father accepted his career change, but his mother had a harder time. She felt her son was not using his university degree well, doing a job that did not need a degree.
But in May, he was reassigned to be a service controller, and he now monitors buses on the roads and regulates their speeds to ensure they reach their stops on schedule.
"When they offered the job to me, I insisted on finishing my bus captain's course so I know what they go through," he said, adding his experience helped him relate better to his driving colleagues.
Number of staff hired by Tower Transit
Number who are bus drivers
Number of bus drivers who have been redeployed to non-driving roles
Since December, the third bus operator here has redeployed 20 bus drivers to other positions that suit their skills and qualities better.
Tower Transit managing director Andrew Bujtor said the experience or training as bus drivers helps them adapt to other positions.
"Understanding the industry from the bus captain's perspective is extremely important," he said.
National Transport Workers Union executive secretary Melvin Yong visited the Bulim Bus Depot yesterday and met 12 employees who had been promoted. In a Facebook post, the MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC said: "Glad to see that the company has been proactive in recognising and rewarding the hard work and potential of those who are performing well in their jobs."
After joining in January as a bus driver, Mr Shanmugam Ramasamy was redeployed to be a trainer, helping new drivers adapt to their roles. The 32-year-old, who has more than 10 years of driving experience with SMRT and driving coaches to Malaysia, said: "Tower Transit looks at your experience. I'm not a graduate but here, I'm a trainer."