A recent survey showed that a lower proportion of commuters are using public transport. More people are using private cars for commuting, adding to road congestion and insufficient parking spaces.
Commuters have complained for a long time about the unreliability of bus services, congested buses, long waiting and travelling times and poor connections to MRT stations.
The Land Transport Authority is working on the long term solution to add more MRT lines and to bring better connection between these lines. This will bring more stations within walking distance to key destinations and residential areas in Singapore.
However, some practical steps can be done immediately to improve the current situation. I suggest the introduction of local transport services, to use small buses and cars to bring commuters from their homes to MRT stations and bus interchanges and back to their homes. These services need a new set of regulations and operators.
The challenge in most public transport systems is “the last mile”. It is not possible to bring a MRT station within walking distance to every home, but if there is a convenient and low cost service to cover the last leg of the journey, public transport becomes an attractive alternative.
If this local service is available, there is no need to find more parking spaces for the “park and ride” scheme.
Hong Kong has an efficient system using light buses to provide the transport for “the last mile”. Singapore should follow this proven example. We can extend this concept to allow cars to be used as well to add flexibility and choice.
If the connection for the last mile works well, there is no need for the big buses to make many stops to pick up passengers. They can provide an express service to connect the different towns and pick up passengers only at key interchange points. The travelling time will be short and the bus schedules will be more reliable. Every passenger should be given a seat.
I hope that the Land Trasnport Authority can include this concept in its master plan and take early action to implement it.