Commuters happier with public transport

Satisfaction with bus services was at 96.7 per cent last year, compared to 90.7 per cent in 2015.
Satisfaction with bus services was at 96.7 per cent last year, compared to 90.7 per cent in 2015.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

Annual survey finds satisfaction levels last year at record high since 2008; big improvement seen in waiting time

Commuters were happier with public transport services last year compared to the year before, with overall satisfaction levels hitting a record high since 2008.

Results of the annual Public Transport Customer Satisfaction Survey released yesterday show 96.4 per cent of commuters were satisfied with bus and train services last year, against 91.8 per cent the year before. The all-time low was 88.5 per cent in 2013.

Overall, 67.6 per cent of respondents felt the quality of buses and trains was better than in 2015, against 67 per cent who compared the level between 2014 and 2015.

A total of 3,869 regular bus and MRT commuters aged 15 years and above were polled last October. Respondents were asked to provide a rating of one (very dissatisfied) to 10 (very satisfied) for a number of service parameters including reliability, waiting time and customer service levels .

The satisfaction levels for all eight parameters surveyed showed improvement, with the biggest jump coming from waiting time and customer service levels.

Satisfaction with waiting time rose to 82.9 per cent last year compared to 76.8 per cent in 2015, while that for customer service rose to 92.1 per cent compared to 86 per cent in 2015.

Although the percentage of commuters satisfied with the waiting time for buses remained the only category to score below 80 per cent, commuters seemed happier overall with bus services.

Satisfaction with bus services was at 96.7 per cent last year compared to 90.7 per cent in 2015.

National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der Horng said the improvement was likely due to the move to the new bus contracting model last year, when two new operators - Go- Ahead and Tower Transit - started running a number of bus routes after winning contracts from the Government.

"The newer bus operators have been generating some positive force to drive the incumbents to pay more attention in improving their services," he said.

Noting that satisfaction levels for train services have also improved from 93.2 per cent in 2015 to 96 per cent last year, Dr Lee said "more efforts are still required", given that there were some high-profile train breakdowns including those that affected the Circle Line last year.

"I think it's going to take some time to get Singaporeans to accept the fact that to have zero breakdowns is impossible," he added.

Chairman for the Government Parliamentary Committee on Transport, Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, said the improvement in commuter satisfaction is a good indicator that the country is moving in the right direction towards a car-lite Singapore.

"There is, however, always room for improvement. Dealing with, managing and reducing the number of train breakdowns is one of the areas where further improvement can be made, " he said.

Train commuter Andy Wong said he has noticed train services have improved in the last year.

"MRT services have improved especially since train frequency has increased during peak hours... However, commuters don't really like to squeeze into trains, so the utilisation per sq m is lower than in other countries. This creates a perceived notion among commuters that train frequency is not high enough," said the 39-year-old.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2017, with the headline 'Commuters happier with public transport'. Print Edition | Subscribe