'Softer' approach dealing with public transport issues

LTA's Travel Smart Rewards programme includes initiatives aimed at easing the public transport crush during peak hours.
LTA's Travel Smart Rewards programme includes initiatives aimed at easing the public transport crush during peak hours.PHOTO: ST FILE

Besides upgrading infrastructure to ease public transport congestion, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is looking at "softer" measures.

Planners have traditionally solved congestion issues by building more trains or expanding the road network but, in addition to these, the LTA is encouraging commuters to travel off-peak. Its Travel Smart Rewards programme, launched under a different name in 2012, includes initiatives aimed at easing the public transport crush during peak hours. It provides cash rewards to commuters, and grants to firms if they implement schemes to boost off-peak travel. For instance, firms might allow employees to start and end work earlier. More than 60 firms are now signed up to the programme, which started with only 12 organisations.

"Corporate users tend to be more effective, because the company sets the culture and climate. You will only change your travelling habits if your working environment encourages it," said Dr Evan Gwee, an LTA senior manager who oversees the Travel Smart scheme.

About 10 per cent of commuters need to change their travel habits in order to ease peak-hour congestion. There are now 300,000 commuters signed up to the Travel Smart Rewards programme. About 5 per cent of them have made the switch to off-peak travel.

Chia Yan Min

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2016, with the headline ''Softer' approach dealing with public transport issues'. Print Edition | Subscribe