Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Half hearted effort from the Transport Ministy

LTA studying commuters' travel patterns to ease jam
21 November 2011

SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority is studying how to manage train travel patterns and will make their ideas known soon.

Minister of State for Transport and Finance, Josephine Teo, gave this update in Parliament on Monday.

She said parallel buses have been introduced along train lines where loading levels have been heavy.

But commuters still prefer trains as taking buses may mean a longer travel time due to road conditions.

She added that the upcoming Downtown Line should ease travel loads when it opens. And changing travelling behaviour of commuters may need more work.

Mr Cedric Foo, the chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Transport, said: "Other than just supply-shaping, can we look into demand-shaping?

"In other words, how to further incentivise commuters to travel pre-peak hours through discount?

"Today, there's a 30-cent discount but can that be increased?"

Mrs Josephine Teo said: "Since the enhanced discount for pre-peak travel was introduced, the numbers are not completely in yet.

"But anecdotally, the shifting of behaviour has not been great.

"And it looks like more needs to be done to encourage people to travel earlier.

"The feedback that has been given is that often, our commuters value their sleep more than what they have to pay."

I will be keeping a look out for the study report. I hope it will not be another “this is it but we cannot do anything” report.

But end of the day I personally think the solution is not that difficult but rather do the government and the transport operators want to do it or not.

Firstly to ease peak hour crowd, the bus and train operator just have to increase the frequency of trains and buses to the max. E.g let say you have 20 stations on the East West line you just have to pack the maximum allowable trains that the infrastructure can take say about 20 trains, one for each station, running at the same time. I guess that squeeze in even more.

Josephine said commuters still prefer train over parallel buses that have been introduced along train lines where loading levels have been heavy. Try reducing the fare for these buses by 50% and I am sure more people will take the bus.

Frankly I don’t mind taking a longer time if I can get a seat and it is cheaper when I take the bus.

Cedric brought up a good point. 30 cents definitely is not an incentive for you to travel before peak hour, in fact what can you buy for 30 these days.

Try to give 50% discount off the fare and I am sure there will be more off-peak commuters.

Note for off-peak travel they are asking you to go to work early. How come they are not encouraging you to go to work later? The government is scheming for you to work longer hours.

In fact I think a good way to ease traffic congestion is to stagger working hours and let people work from home.