Singapore seeking higher peak numbers on public transport

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Plan aims to double size of rail network and shorten bus waiting times, with 85% of journeys under 20km to be completed within an hour

SINGAPORE Singapore is aiming to raise the proportion of public transport users in the total number of trips made at peak hours to 70% by the end of this decade.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew has announced the launch of an updated land transport masterplan. He said the peak-hour public transport mode share has steadily rebounded from 59% in 2008 to 63% in 2012.

“Interestingly, more higher-income commuters appear to be choosing public transport, based on our travel survey,” he said.

Singapore is also aiming to further increase the share of public transport in the trips made during peak hours to 75% by 2030, according to the master plan, which maps out the strategy for the next 10 to 15 years. The number was once 67% in 1997, but it dropped to 59% in 2008, when the government launched the earlier version of the master plan to make public transport an easier choice.

Lui said private motoring cannot be the solution for cities in the 21st century. The number of cars in the world hit 1 billion in 2010, double the number in 2000, and experts predict the number could double again by 2030.

He said: “can our world live with such a trajectory and the resultant reduction in productivity, rising urban pollution, environmental degradation and the impact on health and quality of life?”

Singapore’s car population growth has been slowing in recent years as the city state tried to curb the growth. Despite such efforts, the car population grew by 11% over the past five years, while its resident population only grew 5%.

In 2012, 46% of households owned cars, compared to 40% in 2008. Car ownership for households near train stations is lower. For households within 400 metres of a station, only 39% own cars, as compared to 55% for households more than 1.8km from a train station.

For those living close to a railway station, the rate of public transport usage increased from 65% in 2008 to 71% in 2012. The latest survey covering 10,000 households showed that the daily number of journeys made by people in Singapore increased by 13% over the last five years to 12.5 million.

The daily number of trips made on public transport as a whole increased by 14%, with train trips growing 35% to 2.3m trips daily in 2012, and bus trips growing 3% to 3.2m trips daily. According to the updated master plan, Singapore is aiming to double its rail network to about 360 km by 2030 from the current 178 km, with eight in 10 homes located within a 10-minute walk from a train station.

The first stage of the Downtown Line rail network will open on Dec 22. When fully opened in 2017, the 42-km line will be the longest fully underground driverless train system in Singapore.

The city state is also aiming for better commuter train and bus services with plans and incentives, including a quality incentive framework to improve regularity of bus waiting time by next year. It is aiming to shorten the waiting time on public transport by adding buses and trains to the existing routes, and for 85% of the trips less than 20km to be completed within an hour.