Public transport rides up for ninth consecutive year

MRT rides grew by 3.9 per cent last year to 2.62 million a day. Public transport ridership has grown every year since 2005.
MRT rides grew by 3.9 per cent last year to 2.62 million a day. Public transport ridership has grown every year since 2005.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Public transport ridership here rose by 3.7 per cent to average 6.36 million trips a day last year.

The growth - the ninth consecutive rise since 2005, although among the smallest - was fuelled by an expanded population, tough car curbs, and more comprehensive bus and train networks.

According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the LRT network accounted for the biggest growth, with daily rides rising by 6.5 per cent to 132,000.

This was followed by MRT rides which grew by 3.9 per cent to 2.62 million a day, and bus rides which climbed by 3.4 per cent to 3.6 million a day.

The increases came on the back of Singapore's swelling population, which rose by 1.6 per cent to 5.4 million last year, according to the Department of Statistics.

The car population, on the other hand, inched up by merely 0.4 per cent to 607,292.

This was its smallest increase in over a decade, following the LTA's halving of the annual allowable growth rate to 0.5 per cent last year.

Taxi ridership remained flat at 967,000 trips a day.

Buses and trains, however, picked up the slack.

Last year, another new station on the Sengkang LRT line opened, more train trips were added on the LRT and MRT network, and a slew of new bus services hit the road.

For instance, close to 300 new buses have been added to the fleet of 4,000 since a $1.1 billion bus service enhancement programme was announced in 2012. Another 250 will join them by the end of this year.

The surge in bus and train trips has raised the share of public transport to 63 per cent of all morning peak trips - up from 59 per cent in 2008. But that is still below the 67 per cent share recorded in 1997.

Mr Tony Dufays, regional director of UITP, the International Association of Public Transport, said Singapore's ridership growth is in line with what is happening in major cities around the world.

"As urban land is limited and thus urban road space is limited, economic growth and thus the growth of mobility must be channelled through public transport," he said.

"Of course, if one is confronted by such recurrent growth rates, (the) capacity of the public transport system needs to be further increased if one does not want the quality to deteriorate," Mr Dufays added.

He noted that plans to raise capacity are spelt out in Singapore's Land Transport Masterplan, which he said was "a leading example in the world".

christan@sph.com.sg