Provide space for bus services to grow

The Government has promised more buses for better rides. However, having additional buses would also mean needing more road space.

Implementing double-width bus lanes on major arterial roads during peak hours would enable speeds to improve, and bring bus services closer to being competitive with the MRT in terms of travelling time and having more predictable schedules.

At present, bus lanes cater for only a single line of vehicles. If some in this line have to stop frequently, up to a dozen buses could be inching along head to tail, their speed limited by the slowest vehicle.

Heavy traffic during peak hours prevents easy access to the outer lanes. But with double-width lanes, those behind can easily overtakethe laggards.

Better bus services would be good for not only the economy but also homeland security.

If the MRT breaks down or is sabotaged, huge numbers of people would be stuck... On the other hand, it is almost unimaginable that a bus-based public transport system can be brought to a total stop.

This is because, though there is no substitute for trains when it comes to moving large numbers of people, the MRT is inherently inflexible.

If it breaks down or is sabotaged, huge numbers of people would be stuck. Key personnel required for essential services would be unable to report for duty, thereby aggravating any emergency.

On the other hand, it is almost unimaginable that a bus-based public transport system can be brought to a total stop. Even if several vehicles simultaneously go out of service, travel is still possible, though perhaps slower.

Therefore, to provide viable travel alternatives as well as vital insurance during emergencies, bus services must be developed in parallel with other means of public transport.

And to grow, they must have room.

Lee Chiu San

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2015, with the headline 'Provide space for bus services to grow'. Print Edition | Subscribe