LTA: Bus arrival times more accurate now

The LTA receives more than 10 million download requests for bus arrival timings every day, either through its MyTransport.SG mobile app or third-party applications such as SG NextBus and SG Bus, which also tap LTA's platform.
The LTA receives more than 10 million download requests for bus arrival timings every day, either through its MyTransport.SG mobile app or third-party applications such as SG NextBus and SG Bus, which also tap LTA's platform.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

95% of upgraded system's estimates within 3min of arrival

Commuters are getting more accurate bus arrival timings on their mobile apps and information panels at bus stops.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday improvements made to its information systems mean that 95 per cent of estimated timings now fall within three minutes of the actual arrival times. This is an increase from about 80 per cent from April, when the bus arrival information system was launched.

Previously, bus operators SBS Transit and SMRT operated their own arrival information systems, but the LTA started installing a new centralised system last year.

Under it, all 4,700 public buses are attached with global positioning devices that send location data to the LTA.

It then predicts arrival timings based on real-time bus locations, route information, bus timetables and historical travel times.

Asked if an accuracy level of 100 per cent was achievable, the LTA's group director for innovation and infocomm technology, Ms Rosina Howe, said: "When we talk about roads, we have traffic, we have incidents - roadworks... accidents. Buses also break down.These are the 5 per cent that we have to live with."

The LTA added that over the past two months, it has received commuter feedback on inaccurate bus timings on certain routes, though it has improved its software prediction algorithms and upgraded transmitters to tackle these problems.

More than 50 million data sets are collected every day from buses and analysed, helping to predict bus locations with greater certainty, even when GPS signals drop out.

The LTA said it receives over 10 million download requests for bus arrival timings every day, either through the LTA's MyTransport.SG app or third-party applications such as SG NextBus and SG Buses, which also tap the LTA's platform. Commuters can also get arrival timings from more than 80 information panels at selected bus stops.

While the system has improved, commuters like 20-year-old retail executive Benjamin Goh, who catches service 14 in Dover in the evenings, said arrival timings are less accurate during peak hours.

"Occasionally, the app will say that it's arriving in four to five minutes but it never comes," he said. "It's like a 'ghost' bus."

The LTA said it will launch a common bus fleet management system in the middle of next year to control intervals and cut "bunching".

Ms Howe said this system will monitor whether buses arrive at their stops according to schedule, and also communicate with drivers. She added: "You need to tell the (bus) driver, 'You are late, you need to speed up, or you are too fast, (and) if you move at this speed, you will end up with two or three buses of the same service route together.'"

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2015, with the headline 'LTA: Bus arrival times more accurate now'. Print Edition | Subscribe