SINGAPORE: Despite having secured acceptances at some of Singapore’s top universities, 24-year-old Matthew Tay chose to follow his heart and pursue a lifelong passion for buses.
This decision led him to skip college and embark on a career that many might consider unconventional, but for Matthew, it’s a dream come true.
Dream job since childhood
Hailing from Hougang, a neighborhood in northeast Singapore, Matthew’s fascination with buses began in childhood.
Growing up near a now-defunct bus interchange, his parents often took him to various bus interchanges, igniting his interest in collecting brochures and drawing these remarkable vehicles.
At the age of 12, Matthew joined a Facebook group named “Singapore bus enthusiasts,” where he was the youngest member.
This group became a gateway to bus-spotting adventures across Singapore.
Buses became like Pokémon to the members, as they aimed to experience different types of buses depending on their location.
They even ventured out to experience non-air-conditioned buses, which were a rarity by 2012.
Collected bus models worth about S$2,000 from around the worlds since the age of 12
Matthew told INSIDER that his passion extended beyond just observing buses.
He began collecting bus models from around the world, amassing over 30 models with a total investment of around 2,000 Singapore dollars.
Additionally, he collected various bus memorabilia, including seats, electronic displays, and even a bus dashboard, which he restored from scrapyard finds.
Matthew’s academic prowess was evident as a top-scoring student, and he was expected to enroll in college.
However, his journey took an unexpected turn.
While serving in Singapore’s national service, he spent his weekends learning to drive buses and obtained a bus driving license.
This experience strengthened his resolve to pursue a career in the bus industry.
In August 2022, Matthew joined Tower Transit Singapore, a local bus company, as an operations supervisor.
In this role, he ensures the company’s facilities run smoothly and keeps buses on schedule.
rostered staff life hits different 😉
Matthew’s decision to skip college came as a shock to many.
He had been accepted into Singapore’s top three universities to pursue a degree in business, information systems, or public policy.
However, he purportedly turned down offers from the three local universities:
- Smart City Management and Technology – Singapore Management University (SMU)
- Business Administration – National University of Singapore (NUS)
- Public Policy & Global Affairs – Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
With a near-perfect GPA of 3.99 out of 4 in polytechnic, his classmates and lecturers couldn’t fathom his unconventional choice.
“When my lecturers found out, they even messaged me saying a university degree was something I should seriously consider in the future, if not then,” he told Insider.
As an operations supervisor, Matthew’s work involves managing the day-to-day operations of the company, overseeing bus captains, and ensuring punctuality and service quality.
He finds joy in working closely with the bus captains and their vehicles, living his dream every day.
He stated that it is also “a very social job.”
“I know many of the over 700 bus drivers we have in our company. As a huge bus enthusiast, I love working up close with bus captains and their buses every day,” he added.
Additionally, Matthew challenges the misconception that working in the bus industry is a dead-end job, typically for older individuals.
He firmly believes that opportunities lie beyond conventional paths, and he is living proof of this.
In his TikTok account, he had shared an insight into his day-to-day life working at what he deemed as the “largest bus interchange in Singapore.”
working at the largest bus interchange in Singapore??? check ✅ #sgbus
He listed various things, including the bustling environment, and the ample chances for physical activity during his management of operations in two interchanges.
He even discovered a jackfruit tree laden with ripe fruit along the way.
Furthermore, he emphasized the friendly nature of his colleagues and noted that the facilities were impeccably maintained, featuring fully air-conditioned spaces and pristine restroom facilities.
Additionally, he pointed out that he benefits from a regular intake of Vitamin D thanks to daily exposure to sunlight.
In a society where paper qualifications often take precedence, Matthew has found satisfaction and purpose in his role.
He also mentioned that he is grateful he didn’t succumb to societal pressure and decided to follow his passion instead.
“I’m thankful that I didn’t buy into that rat race.
“In a country as focused on education and paper qualifications as Singapore, what I did was unusual, but I don’t regret it one bit,” he said.
“As an operations supervisor, I’m comfortable with the salary I make and don’t feel like I’m under financial pressure.
He added, “For transparency, I still live with my parents and don’t have to pay rent.”
If he ever decides to change course, the doors to college remain open, but for now, he is content being the behind-the-scenes hero who keeps the wheels of Singapore’s buses turning.
Online commentators were supportive
Furthermore, online commenters displayed kindness and offered their support to Matthew.
They admired his dedication to serving bus passengers in Singapore and doing what he enjoys.
“Doing what you love for a living is better than a lot others who are unhappy with their lives and commenting hate,” one user said.
A user playfully quipped that Matthew is now “the most famous bus driver in Singapore!” thanks to the widespread coverage of his story in various other media outlets.
Additionally, a user inquired if it was exhausting to work every day without a day off.
In response, Matthew clarified, saying, “Got rest la, just not a guaranteed weekends rest!”