35 minutes peak-time drive to city 'worst from Bukit Timah': Survey

Construction work for the Downtown Line's King Albert Park MRT station. Bukit Timah residents face the worst drive to and from work in the city centre, a survey has found. -- ST FILE PHOTO: NURIA LING
Construction work for the Downtown Line's King Albert Park MRT station. Bukit Timah residents face the worst drive to and from work in the city centre, a survey has found. -- ST FILE PHOTO: NURIA LING

Bukit Timah residents face the worst drive to and from work in the city centre, a survey has found.

Drivers who leave for work between 7am and 9am spend an average of 35 minutes on congested roads, double the time it takes when the roads are clear.

"It's exactly true, it's really really congested," said Bukit Timah resident Marlene Teo, 36, a dentist. "I work in town so I have to leave earlier for work and try to come back early around 6pm to beat the traffic."

Residents like her blame the slow drive on extensive construction work and a concentration of schools in the area. Peak-hour choke points in Bukit Timah area Click picture to see interactive graphics

The findings came from a six-month survey of 15 neighbourhoods between September last year and February this year by Dutch company TomTom, which makes in-car navigation devices.

This is the second time the study has been done. Gridlocked neighbourhoods remain the same.

Bukit Timah was joined by Clementi and Jurong West in the top five of a previous poll in 2011, and the pair of western bad boys returned again as the second and third worst morning commutes.

For the evening peak period, Toa Payoh and Clementi came in just behind Bukit Timah, whose residents took 32 minutes. Drivers with the smoothest rides to work are those living in the north-east and eastern suburbs of Sengkang and Pasir Ris.

TomTom declined to reveal the number of drivers it collected information from, saying only that it came from "tens of thousands" of navigation units.

It recorded these average trip times during the morning peak period of 7am to 9am and the evening rush hours of 5pm to 7pm on weekdays. These were then compared against time taken on the routes between 1am and 5am when roads were clear. It used the most central point of each neighbourhood as the starting point and Raffles Place MRT station as the end point of the journey.

TomTom's vice-president for Asia-Pacific Chris Kearney attributed the congestion in Bukit Timah to its residents' affluence. "This is a popular neighbourhood and there is a high density of car ownership among the residents."

But residents blamed parents in their cars queuing up at schools in the morning, and construction in the area. National water agency PUB is widening a canal while the Land Transport Authority is building the Downtown Line Stage 2.

Residents such as housewife Suriani Sumito, 47, hope all the works will end soon. "During rush hour, it's really congested, especially in areas where there are road works. I try to use Holland Road instead."

mariaa@sph.com.sg

joseow@sph.com.sg

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