Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In The News: Fewer Take Public Transport

The 2nd World Roads Conference was inaugurated yesterday, with an address given by the Minister of Transport, Mr Raymond Lim. In his speech, he revealed that according to a travel survey conducted by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in 2008, fewer people in Singapore are taking public transport.

Less People Taking Public Transport

Less people are taking public transport and more switching to private cars, if the latest numbers are anything to go by.

A 2008 travel survey conducted by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) showed that the proportion of people taking car journeys have increased to 31 per cent, as opposed to 27 per cent share in 2004.

Two strategies have been identified to increase the number of people taking public transportation: 1) investing in rail network and; 2) reducing vehicle growth rate, Singapore's Transport Minister Raymond Lim said in his opening speech for the second World Roads conference.

Mr Lim said ideally there would be a doubling of the existing rail network by 2020, as well as significant capacity enhancement in existing lines with higher train frequencies.

By 2020, Singapore's rail density will be "comparable" to New York and London today. The MRT will be more accessible to more people. Mr Lim also added that there will be an MRT station within five minutes' walk.

The vehicle population growth rate has also been reduced from 3 per cent to 1.5 per cent a year, and this will be reassessed again in 2012.

Several improvements have been made to increase the attractiveness of taking public transport, said the Transport Minister.

Expansion of normal bus lanes and full day bus lanes have improved bus speeds. Bus services are now more frequent as well.

Public commuters are already feeling the improvements. In a customer satisfaction survey conducted in 2008, 89,5 per cent said they were satisfied with public transport services, an increase of 3 per cent from 2007.

He also added: "As we expanded Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) to more roads last year, the traffic conditions of these roads have improved correspondingly."

Traffic speeds in the CBD area - where targeted road pricing measures were introduced - increased from 18kph to an optimal range of 20-30kph.”

- AsiaOne Motoring News, 26 Oct 2009

Link: http://www.asiaone.com/Motoring/News/Story/A1Story20091026-176032.html

Needless to say, many netizens quickly responded to this speech with comments like “Sounds like another excuse to raise ERP charges again...” or “Impossible! Cos the trains are always packed with people!”.

Their rash reactions to this speech are expected, but the matter here really is: why? Why are Singaporeans still not choosing to commute by public transport? Why are we switching to cars?

Plans are in place to improve public transport in Singapore, according to the Land Transport Master Plan. But if Singaporeans continue to shun public transport and if we do not find out the reason behind this trend, it’ll be an awful waste of effort indeed once everything in the plan is achieved.

I hope the Land Transport Authority can reveal more information on the travel survey and hopefully identify the reason behind our poor travel mode choice.

I certainly hope this is not the cause of it!

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