SINGAPORE: Major changes are expected in land transport after a more than year-long review to improve the situation.
In the first three major announcements, Transport Minister Raymond Lim zoomed in on changes to the bus system, which serves two-thirds of all commuter trips today.
Speaking at the opening of the Land Transport Authority (LTA) gallery, he outlined the urgency of the problem, stressing that with trips poised to increase 60 per cent between now and 2020, the only option is to steer people towards using public transport more often.
For that to happen, Mr Lim said, not just the quantity, but also the quality of public transport would have to improve tremendously.
Currently, the system is fragmented between two operators - SBS and SMRT - which plan the routes based on commercial considerations and minimum service obligations.
So firstly, the LTA will take over the central planning of the bus network, with the commuters' ease of journey as the main focus.
Buses will also get more priority on the roads with more full-day bus lanes, and making it mandatory for cars to give way to buses at bus bays.
More integrated public transport hubs, like the ones at Toa Payoh, Sengkang and Ang Mo Kio, will be upgraded to make transfers easier. Five more will be upgraded and two more are already being upgraded.
And more travel information will be made available via panels, text messages and websites.
The second big change will be to introduce competition among operators, including opening the market to new players.
The island will be carved up into different regions and potential operators will bid for these in a competitive tender.
The third major change is for the LTA to keep its pulse on the community's transport issues through regular dialogue with grassroots members.
More changes, including those to the ERP system, are expected in the following weeks. - CNA/ac/vm