Regret to say my heart sank when I heard a summary of the news earlier this week (see below) that more bus stops were being converted into bus hubs and that there will be more bus lanes and more mandatory “give way” for buses exiting bus bays!
Add to this the $1.1 billion worth of buses (Bendies and double-deckers?) that will be unleashed on our already massively crowded roads. So what if there is electronic gear to tell me when my bus is going to arrive (see below again!) when all i want, really and truly, is for the bus to arrive immediately I need it. What’s good knowing that it won’t be here for another XX mins and i’m ready to do a war dance?
All I see from this plethora of LTA n Transport Ministry initiatives isn’t a smooth ride from point A to points B, C, D and all the way to Z.
Rather, I see more traffic jams, more accidents and time taken to get around what is essentially a very small island, no larger than the Isle of Wight, as they used to say.
Worse, the cost for the privilege of using buses is likely to head for the sky: if Ms Josephine Teo’s reasoning re bus drivers’ pay is going to become fact. (see below again, lah!)
Why must our dear Government go for costly, less flexible, less timely solutions when there are alternatives that are less costly and more flexible and could be implemented in almost no time at all?
I’m thinking of the good old mini buses that ply between housing developments all over Hongkong and the Special Administration Region’s ubiquitous MTR stations.
Why can’t the LTA roll out a similar mini bus network to connect our housing to our increasingly large network of MRT stations?
Oh sure, there are shuttle buses that connect several condos on our island to our MRT as well as shuttles provided by shopping malls to corral shoppers from MRT stations to their shops and back again with their “loot”.
While the mall shuttles are pretty focussed, they usually run in half to one hourly slots. Ditto those that service private housing estates like Clementi Park. There are also those so-called luxury direct buses which zip you along the highways at a luxury price to your destination. But to use any of these on a daily basis, you need the patience of Job as none of them is as convenient or as frequent as our fast-paced, multi-tasking lives need.
That’s why I think, pray, demand, ok lah hope our dear Minister for Transport, Lui Tuck Yew, the Land Transport Authority and those who call the shots within Cabinet would concede to giving the mini-bus model a la Hongkong a trial run.
Why not finance small dedicated fleets of mini buses for a dozen or so condos that are within two bus-stops of an MRT station and let them loop de loop at 5-minute intervals. Let passengers pay a flat fee.
Hand the driving and cost of maintenance of the mini buses over to the lower paid and the unemployed Singaporeans with immpecable driving records who want to be their own bosses — on an interest-free, rent-free basis for a year. See how it goes.
If it works, then we can abandon those grandoise plans outlined by the Government that are slated to be fully realised only in five years’ time. Bus bays and extra buses already rolled out could still be used but we needn’t go the whole multi billion$ hog.
If the mini bus scheme doesn’t deliver, it won’t be disastrous. The outlay would have been low. Commuters would have had a chance to try a different mode of connecting to the MRT and that’s an experience worth the tax-payer’s subsidy, IMHO. A couple of hundreds of lowly-paid Singaporeans would have had a taste of being their own boss and provide a common good without having to invest a cent.
Speaking of moolah, if our dear Government doesn’t want to experiment with mini-buses, then why not open the model to all comers who want to run such a service? There’s no law against this, is there? Or are there no takers simply because it ain’t a profitable thing to do? If so, then it’s something for the social enterprise do-gooders to have a go at, nyet? 😆
SINGAPORE: More initiatives are in the pipeline to shorten travel times on buses.
Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is looking at expanding the scheme which makes it mandatory for motorists to give way to buses exiting bus bays.
There could also be more bus lanes and bus hubs to drive up bus speeds.
Such measures are necessary, given that 800 more buses will go on the roads in the next five years.
Mr Lui’s comments came as he observed operations at a new bus hub on Monday morning.
The LTA has completed upgrading works for three bus stops selected for expansion as bus hubs, four months ahead of schedule.
Bus hubs are bus stops which have extended bays to allow more buses to pull in at the same time.
They can accommodate up to three single- or double-deck buses in the bay for simultaneous boarding and alighting.
This reduces the average time each bus needs to dwell at the bus stops, shortening waiting and boarding times for commuters and improving overall journey times.
The bus hubs also help to relieve traffic congestion near bus stops.
Four more bus hubs — at Marine Parade Road, Upper Serangoon Road, Yishun Avenue 2 and Victoria Street — will be ready by the end of the year.
The remaining 28 will be completed by the end of next year.
Minister Lui visited the latest bus hub, at Bedok Reservoir Road along Block 121, on Monday.
He said: “For the first and second buses, obviously there aren’t really time savings. The greatest time savings will come with the fourth and fifth buses.
“Rather than wait another round which may [take] up to a minute, [the extended bays] can actually help to speed up the flow.
“Having said that, this cannot be the only measure to improve bus services. You need to do more with regard to [the] mandatory Give Way [to Buses Scheme] where possible, to extend the use of bus lanes — and LTA is looking into that.”
Currently, there are 202 bus stops where the Give Way to Buses Scheme is in place.
To help commuters better manage their travel time, real-time bus arrival information panels will be installed progressively at the bus hubs, from the first quarter of next year.
Mr Lui said plans to develop an application to provide more comprehensive information to commuters, such as whether there are available seats on buses, have entered the next phase.
He added LTA will be getting volunteers to test out the system soon.
“We want to make sure it is properly tested and sufficiently robust, rather than put something out in a hurry,” Mr Lui said.
“When it is ready to be put out, I think it ought to be at a stage where it is going to be of great use and of value to commuters.”
3 major bus stops upgraded to accommodate more buses at once
By Christopher Tan
Three major bus stops have been expanded into bus hubs – with longer bays that can accommodate up to three buses at one time – four months ahead of schedule.
They are among 35 bus stops selected for expansion. Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew visited one of them at Bedok Reservoir Road on Monday morning.
Works on the Bedok Reservoir Road bus hub started in December 2011.
The other two are in Woodlands Centre Road and Commonwealth Avenue West. They can now accommodate up to three single or double-deck buses or two Bendy buses, reducing the average time each bus needs to dwell at the bus stops. Previously, the bus stops could each only accommodate up to two single or double-deck buses or one Bendy bus.
‘Pay bus drivers more’ to attract Singaporeans
Josephine Teo: Bus operators also have to improve the working conditions of drivers
By Tessa Wong
In Taiwan, bus drivers are paid around NT$60,000 (S$2,570) a month – more than twice what some fresh university graduates get.
Making this observation on Thursday night, Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo said Singapore’s bus operators have to improve drivers’ wages and working conditions to attract more Singaporeans. She was speaking at a Young NTUC dialogue on the Budget with some 60 young professionals.
One participant noted there are now more foreign bus drivers. Referring to the plan to have 800 more public buses plying the roads over the next five years, she asked if there would be enough drivers given that the inflow of foreign labour is also being tightened. In reply, Ms Teo said bus operators will have to ‘seriously look into’ the terms of employment for drivers, primarily their wages and working hours, to attract more Singaporeans.
Many realise that with the same skills, they can find more attractive jobs, such as driving tour coaches or delivering goods for logistics companies.
More measures on the way to improve bus travel experience
04:45 AM Mar 27, 2012
by Sumita Sreedharan
SINGAPORE – More measures to improve the bus travel experience could soon be heading the way of commuters. Come July, 500 commuters will be invited to take part in a three-month trial on an information system, which would relay information on passenger loading of the bus and the number of seats available to commuters.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will also consider expanding a scheme which makes it mandatory for motorists to give way to buses exiting bus bays, while rolling out more bus lanes to boost bus speeds.
These measures come as the first of 800 new buses hit the roads in the third quarter of this year.
The LTA announced yesterday the completion of three new bus hubs, which are extended bus stops that can accommodate up to three single- or double-deck buses for simultaneous boarding and alighting.
The three bus hubs at Bedok Reservoir Road, Woodlands Centre Road and Commonwealth Avenue West were completed four months ahead of schedule. Four more bus hubs are expected to be ready by the end of this year, with the remaining 28 to be completed by the end of next year.
Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, who visited the bus hub near Block 121, Bedok Reservoir Road, yesterday morning, felt it was “an improvement over the other bus stops” he had seen.
The greatest time savings will come with the fourth and fifth buses arriving at the bus hub, he said.
Time savings for commuters, however, could be erased due to issues such as indiscriminate parking.
Mr Lui witnessed this first-hand during his visit yesterday. A van used the bus hub as a loading and unloading area for about four minutes, which meant only two buses were allowed to berth, instead of the intended three.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Lui appealed to other road users to “be considerate” as the impact to commuters waiting at the bus hubs was “quite significant.”
He added that, to boost bus speeds, the LTA is looking to expand the Mandatory Give Way to Buses Scheme and the use of bus lanes. Currently, there are 202 bus stops where the scheme is in place.
The number of motorists who failed to give way to buses tripled last year – from 1,101 in 2010 to 3,661 in 2011. In 2009, 3,325 motorists failed to give way to buses.
The number of bus lane offenders, however, fell. There were 36,222 bus lane offenders, compared to 40,804 in 2010 and 52,796 in 2009.
The LTA said that, to ensure that the bus lane scheme remains effective in improving the travel time for buses, it has introduced traffic wardens and the use of on-board bus lane enforcement cameras.
Copyright 2012 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved