Long waits, ticketing issues as bookings open for Singapore-Malaysia land VTL bus services
SINGAPORE: Travellers looking to purchase bus tickets for the upcoming land vaccinated travel lane (VTL) between Singapore and Malaysia faced long waits and ticketing issues as bookings opened on Thursday (Nov 25) morning.
A message on the Transtar Travel website - one of two companies designated to serve the land VTL - said tickets for the next 30 days were sold out at about 8.20am, less than half an hour after they were made available at 8am.
Checks on the Transtar site at about 8am found visitors placed in a queue due to "high user volume".
However, when directed to the booking page later, CNA was unsuccessful in selecting one of the time slots for the available bus services.
The site later returned a message saying tickets were sold out.
Though the Transtar website could later be accessed shortly after, CNA remained unable to book tickets in either direction.
An error message read: "Dear valued customer, we are experiencing extreme high traffic and unable to serve your request now. Please try again later. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused."
A later visit to the Transtar site found a message stating that the site was currently under "emergency maintenance".
However, at about 1pm on Thursday, after waiting for about three hours in a virtual waiting room, CNA was able to book a seat on a bus from Singapore to Johor on Monday morning.
For Handal Indah, also known as Causeway Link, the other bus service plying the land VTL between Johor Bahru and Singapore - a check of the firm's website at about 7.30am indicated that the virtual queue for bus tickets would begin at 8am.
However, a subsequent check at 7.50am showed that the virtual waiting room had already taken effect, with those in line assigned queue numbers above 3,500.
A later check of the site at about 8.15am returned a queue number of 13008, with more than 12,000 users still waiting for their turn.
Issues on both websites persisted throughout the morning.
Upon being granted access to the Causeway Link website, attempts to purchase a ticket resulted in incomplete transactions, even after entering credit card details.
On the Causeway Link Facebook page - where the bus operator said tickets would initially be available for the period between Nov 29 and Dec 5 - more than 150 comments were left by users complaining of slow service and being unable to access the website.
CNA has contacted both Transtar Travel and Causeway Link for comment.
This comes a day after Malaysia and Singapore announced the launch of a land VTL via the Causeway from Nov 29.
As part of the first phase of the land VTL, travellers will need to use designated VTL bus services. Travellers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 and be citizens, permanent residents or long-term pass holders of the country they are entering.
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.
The daily quota for the land VTL scheme will be about 2,880 travellers in total, with 1,440 passengers each way.