The roads in Singapore are getting congested. The Government plans to extend the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) to more roads, extend the chargeable hours and increase the rates. These are measures to reduce the congestions on the road.
The Minister for Transport said that building more roads does not help to solve the congestion problem. It encourages more people to use cars and will lead to more congestion at a later date.
We need to encourage more people to use public transport. As a recently converted user of our public transport, I now prefer to use the train or bus, rather than to drive a car. I avoid paying ERP and parking charges and the hassle of driving on congested roads.
Previously, like many other car owners, I found the bus routes to be too complicated.
If we make some effort, we can learn how to take the bus from our home to the nearest MRT station. But, if we are travelling anywhere else by bus, it is quite difficult to find the right bus. This explains the heavy demand for taxis.
We need a revamp of our bus routes, to make it easier for many people to use them to move around.
I wish to suggest a longer term strategy and an interim measure for the shorter term.
For the longer term, we need a public transport system that has the following components.
• The MRT forms the backbone of the public transport
• Feeder services take commuters from pick up points within a town to the MRT station or bus interchange
• Express services bring commuters between the bus interchanges and provide an alternative to the MRT
The feeder services can use large or small buses and should preferably be operated by a number of small operators.
As the express bus does not require stop at pickup points, they can keep to a more reliable and frequent schedule.
This system may require a commuter to take up to three segments, if their start and end points are not within walking distance of the train station or bus interchange. This is not a problem, as the connection can be done at the same place. It is useful for the commuter to take a short walk or move around anyway.
As an interim measure, I suggest that the existing bus services be actively promoted as a feeder service. At each bus stop or MRT station, there should be a map showing the bus services that serve an area within (say) a radius of up to three kilometres. The services can be colour coded to make it easier for the commuters to pick the right bus to take to their ultimate destination.
It will also encourage commuters to travel to move around their neighbourhood.
If it is easy and convenient to take public transport, more car owners will choose this option. This has been my personal experience.
Tan Kin Lian
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