Ministry of Transport paints a rosy picture of what transport could look like in near future
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Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and Second Minister of Transport Ng Chee Meng both delivered Budget speeches today in Parliament (Mar 8) and gave a glimpse of how the future of transport would be like in Singapore.
We summarise the more exciting offerings.
Khaw shared that the Government’s push for “car-lite” is more than just “cars or their depopulation”, but rather also about making it enjoyable and easier to walk, cycle and take public transport.
He painted a picture of having less need to own cars and reclaiming road and carpark spaces for community and greenery uses — and ultimately “improving the quality of life for all”.
On the rail network
Khaw said that Singapore’s rail network is growing by 1km every month. He also updated that by this year, the East-West Line will be extended by four stations to Tuas West, while the Downtown Line by 16 stations to Singapore Expo.
He said that when the Thomson-East Coast Line, Circle Line Stage 6, as well as, lines for the Jurong Region and Cross Island Lines are completed, eight in 10 households will live within a 10-minute walk to a train station.
Data analytics helping transport
Second Transport Minister Ng said that data analytics improve aspects of Singapore’s transport system. For starters, bus operators are already tracking analytics on buses “so that they can instruct their bus captains to slow down or speed up, to avoid bunching with other buses, all in real time.”
Beyond that, he said that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is building an analytics system which will process data from various sources such as fare cards, Wi-Fi and CCTV systems, and also cellular data from the telcos.
This will in turn allow LTA to better model commuter traffic and improve planning capabilities as well as resource allocation such as injecting additional bus and rail capacity to cope with unexpected crowd surges or train delays.
Ng also said that there are plans to integrate private transport data. Through utilising Global Navigation Satellite System technology and in-vehicle units in vehicles, real-time traffic data can be aggregated and used to improve traffic flow.
Examples include giving motorists real-time data to decide on the fastest or least congested route, and also enabling Singapore’s traffic light system to respond more intelligently and optimally to different traffic conditions.
Taxis vs Private Hire cars
Ng shared that the PTC found in a survey that almost one in two point-to-point trips are being served by private hire cars. He said he was glad that commuters are using mobile apps as a transport solution and are satisfied, he is also heartened to note that taxi companies are rising to the competition and improved their services.
He shared that while taxi companies are looking to introduce surge pricing, taxi companies should ensure that dynamic pricing improves, and not worsen the matching of supply to demand. Responding to commuter concerns to surge pricing, he added that before any taxi ride begins, commuters will know exactly how much their fare will be.
He added that there will be some differentiation maintained between taxis and private hire cars given their different roles – only taxis can serve the street-hailing market and taxis will still enjoy COE concessions such as bidding for Cat A COEs even if taxis have Cat B engine capacities.
Ride-sharing and self-driving vehicles
Ng touched on the advent of ride-sharing initiatives such as GrabShare, UberPool and SWAT. He elaborated that SWAT is a local start-up that provides on-demand bus services which uses a routing algorithm to pick up and drop off passengers on demand, while dynamically optimising the route that the bus takes on a real-time basis.
Ng said that self-driving vehicles are being focused on in a big way. He illustrated that Singapore could have a fleet of shared self-driving pods or shuttles that can be called on demand to bring people from their doorstep to the MRT station. While self-driving buses, on the other hand, could address the problem of driver shortage.
Ng concluded his speech by saying that Singapore’s future transport system will be one that is smarter, greener, more inclusive and sustainable for all Singaporeans.
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