The government has taken initiatives to ensure that bus travel will be shorter (at most 1.5 times as long as travel by car), more convenient and more comfortable. Part of the process is to make it mandatory for vehicles to give way to buses exiting from bus bays and creating more bus lanes where public buses have exclusive use during certain times of the day.

Buses will also be given priority at traffic junctions, which is already observed with the city area but is usually hijacked by unsuspecting drivers in the designated lanes. Needless to say, drivers would need to pay attention to when these will be in effect to avoid being slapped with heavy fines and demerit points. Ultimately, the bus commuter would be able to get from one place to another in comfort and in the shortest possible time via public transport as the nation prepares herself for a population of 14.3 million in 2020. In the mean time, bus routes will be planned by LTA by end 2009.

BUS commuters have long been second-class road users. Not anymore. Transport Minister Raymond Lim on Friday unveiled a slew of initiatives that will make commuting by bus much faster and more comfortable than it is today.

First off, the Land Transport Authority will assume the role as centralised bus route planner, so that commuters in all areas of Singapore are better served and waiting times are cut.

‘Currently, the two public transport operators plan the bus routes within their areas of operation based on commercial considerations, subject to minimum service obligations,” the minister said. He said this has led to some services running at intervals of more than half an hour.

After LTA has taken over as central bus route planner by end-2009, it will open up the bus market to more players. Today, the market is dominated by SBS Transit, with SMRT Buses as much smaller second player. The LTA will invite tenders from any company keen to ply specific ‘route parcels’ to be drawn up.

Secondly, fares will be purely distance-based, and the current transfer penalty will be removed. So if a commuter decides to change bus (or go from a bus to a train) so as to get to his destination faster, he will pay the same fare as someone who does not break up his journey.

This is because the new bus services structure ahead will be a ‘hub-and-spoke’ system (as opposed to the current system of many direct services), and might require more transfers. ‘Transfers are part and parcel of a hub-and-spoke system,’ Mr Lim said.

Then, the Government will roll out measures to ensure that buses get right of way on the road. There will be more bus lanes, with the length of full-day bus lanes trebling from 7km today to 23km by June.

It will be mandatory for motorists to give way to buses exiting bus bays; and buses will have priority signal lights at major junctions. With these moves, it hopes to raise the average speed of buses to 20-25kmh by next year – from 19kmh today.

The Government will also build more integrated transport hubs – where bus and rail services meet. There are currently three (Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh and Sengkang), with two more (Boon Lay and Clementi) coming up in the next couple of years. Five more will be built over the next decade.

Finally, integrated transport information, which will help commuters plan their journeys as well as let them know when their buses are arriving.

‘By 2015, our target is for 80 per cent of public transport commuters to complete their journeys within an hour, from the point they set off, to arriving at their destination – up from 71 per cent today,’ the minister said.

He added that by 2020, travelling by public transport should not take more than 1.5 times than a journey by car – down from the current 1.7 times.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 18th January 2008



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