A new framework to ensure more punctual buses through rewards and fines is not likely to encourage unsafe driving behaviour among bus drivers, said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew in Parliament on Tuesday.
The system is modelled after a similar carrot-and-stick scheme in London, and based on the experience of London, the additional stress on drivers was "not so significant and certainly manageable", Mr Lui said.
He added that both SMRT and SBS Transit have been surpassing the Public Transport Council's safety standard of less than 0.75 accidents per 100,000km travelled.
Ms Tin Pei Ling (Marine Parade GRC) and Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) had asked if the Bus Service Reliability Framework, to be tested on 22 bus services for two years, would place stress on drivers or cause them to drive recklessly.
Under the framework, bus operators will be rewarded or penalised based on how regularly buses arrive at bus stops.
For every six seconds it reduces from previously recorded waiting times, an operator stands to gain up to $6,000 every month.
On the other hand, it stands to lose up to $4,000 for every six seconds a previously recorded waiting time is exceeded.
Mr Lui noted that this system actually places greater pressure on back-end staff in the operations centres, who will have to make decisions on how the buses move or if an additional bus should be injected in the middle of the route.
Non-constituency MP Gerald Giam asked why the Government did not simply set high enough service standards and penalise operators for failing these standards.
This could spur improvements in the back end as well, he said.
Mr Lui replied that the Government has chose a model that is fair to all parties concerned.
"With greater demands there will be calls for greater injection of resources and so you are really trying to find a balance between incentive and penalty in order to arrive at a better situation than what we have today," he said.
As to why the rewards are higher than fines, he noted that the operators have to put in "a certain amount of investment" to meet the new standards.