Janil Puthucheary, Transport

Give commuters free travel before peak hours to ease congestion: MP Janil Puthucheary

To spark a change in travel patterns, let commuters travel for free on public transport before the peak-hour crush, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Janil Puthucheary suggested in Parliament on Tuesday.

A discount is now offered to MRT users as an incentive to travel earlier. But dangling free travel until the peak hour starts, or for half an hour to an hour on weekday mornings until 7.45am, may be a better move, he argued during the first day of the Budget debate.

"This will attract more people to change their travel patterns than any discount. Instead of using money conducting complex research studies, creating and maintaining smartphone apps or generating programmes with rewards and free gifts, just channel the money directly into free travel," he said.

"Everyone benefits. Those that can travel earlier will enjoy free travel. Those that can't will be more comfortable."

While some may see this as a political shift towards the left, he termed it instead as a pragmatic approach to achieve a concrete outcome - to change passengers' behavior to ease congestion.

"We can free ourselves from the belief that nothing good can be free. This benefits Singaporeans, it can be done," he added.