Bus speeds up with drive to improve journeys

In Eu Tong Sen Street, the operating hours of bus lanes are marked on the ground, a move aimed at heightening awareness. The LTA said such measures have helped to reduce the number of summonses issued for incursions into bus lanes.
In Eu Tong Sen Street, the operating hours of bus lanes are marked on the ground, a move aimed at heightening awareness. The LTA said such measures have helped to reduce the number of summonses issued for incursions into bus lanes.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Longer bus lane hours and steps to raise awareness show results

Measures to improve bus journeys - from extending operating hours of bus lanes to increasing awareness among drivers to stay out of these lanes - have been working.

The hours for the 23km of full-day bus lanes were extended last year to end at 11pm instead of 8pm. The move has helped increase the average bus speed along certain stretches by as much as 7.3 per cent, said a Land Transport Authority (LTA) spokesman.

Despite the longer bus lane hours, the number of incursions by other vehicles into bus lanes has gone down.

The number of summonses issued for incursions into bus lanes dropped from 11,668 in 2015 to 6,432 last year. In the first eight months of this year, there were 4,058 summonses issued for full-day bus lane violations.

The LTA attributed the fall in summonses to an increase in measures aimed at heightening awareness of these offences. In certain areas such as Eu Tong Sen Street, operating hours of the bus lanes are marked on the ground, for instance, while in Orchard Road, banners are placed on lamp posts.

The total number of bus lane offences also dropped by nearly half between 2015 and last year, from 42,596 to 24,394.

In the first eight months of this year, 12,897 were caught for such offences.

Violations at bus priority boxes - where it is mandatory for motorists to give way to buses - have also fallen. There were 2,952 summonses issued for priority box offences last year, compared to 5,616 in 2015.

Motorists who drive in bus lanes during restricted hours face a composition fine of $130, while the fine for not giving way to buses in priority boxes is also $130.

"Localised improvements" were also made in certain areas with existing bus lanes, said the LTA.

For example, in March last year, parking spaces along a stretch of Geylang Road - between Lorong 14 Geylang and Lorong 18 Geylang - were removed. The parking spaces had impeded bus movement, said the LTA.

The bus lane - which operates twice daily on weekdays, between 7.30am and 9.30am, as well as between 5pm and 8pm - was also changed from a dotted yellow line, which allows vehicles to filter in near junctions, to a solid line, which only public buses can use.

Average bus journey speeds have improved by about 8 per cent along this stretch since the changes were made.

However, there is room for improvement, some commuters said.

Mr Farhan Hassan, a 35-year-old designer, said that while his morning bus commute to work in the Geylang area was smooth, the situation after evening bus lane hours end at 8pm is different, as customers flock to eateries in the area after dark.

"There are always cars parked or waiting by the roadside there, even in the bus lanes," he said. This is despite the double yellow lines along the road. Motorists face a fine of $70 for parking there.

One solution could be to introduce bus lanes in the centre of the road, as is practised in cities such as Seoul and Taipei , suggested Singapore University of Social Sciences senior lecturer Park Byung Joon, who specialises in urban transport research.

But this could be difficult to implement in certain areas, as it would require islands to be built in the middle of the road as bus stops, he added.

National University of Singapore transport expert Lee Der Horng said having full-day bus lanes islandwide could also help resolve such issues. With more buses being injected, he said such a move "could ensure a greater number of services are more regular, and get more people to take the bus".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2017, with the headline 'Bus speeds up with drive to improve journeys'. Print Edition | Subscribe