Bus incentive-penalty scheme shows encouraging results, says LTA

Under the trial, operators SBS Transit and SMRT are given a baseline excess wait time (EWT) for selected bus services. The EWT is the additional time commuters spend waiting for a bus on average when it does not arrive at its schedule timing. -- ST P
Under the trial, operators SBS Transit and SMRT are given a baseline excess wait time (EWT) for selected bus services. The EWT is the additional time commuters spend waiting for a bus on average when it does not arrive at its schedule timing. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - A trial that employs a carrot-and-stick approach to get buses to run at regular intervals has shown encouraging results so far, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Monday.

From February to April, the LTA has placed seven SMRT services and eight SBS Transit services on the trial.

Buses are arriving slightly more regularly on SBS Transit services 17, 52, 3, 39, 228, 242, 241 and 325, according to figures provided by the LTA.

Meanwhile, SMRT routes 176, 184, 188 and 858 have also shown improvement, while its feeder routes 901, 911 and 302 arrived less regularly in April.

The LTA introduced a two-year trial of the Bus Service Reliability Framework (BSRF) in February in a bid to reduce bus bunching, where two buses of the same route arrive at a bus stop at the same time. This leads to longer waiting times for some commuters as buses do not arrive regularly.

Under the trial, operators SBS Transit and SMRT are given a baseline excess wait time (EWT) for selected bus services. The EWT is the additional time commuters spend waiting for a bus on average when it does not arrive at its schedule timing.

Most services under the trial have shown an improvement in EWT, according to LTA figures. For example, service 39 had a base EWT of 1.2 minutes. This improved to 1.1 minutes in April.

Said LTA group director of public transport Yeo Teck Guan: "The results of the BSRF trial are encouraging considering the buses have only been placed on the trial for a very short period. This is a significant change to bus operations, and an important step in improving commuters' travel experience."

From June 23, another seven bus services - 51, 154, 292 and 354 from SBS Transit as well as 189, 853 and 962 from SMRT - will go under the trial.

The operators will also be rewarded or penalised for their performance in the trial from June, based on a six-month average of each route's EWT.

They will receive a $6,000 incentive for every 0.1 minute shaved off a route's EWT each month, and a $4,000 penalty for every 0.1 minute added on. This trial is modelled after the Quality Incentive Contracts scheme employed in London.

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