Bus lane allocation causing TPE gridlock

It has been many months since the stretch of the Tampines Expressway (TPE) outside Sengkang Town, towards the direction of the Seletar Expressway, was widened to four lanes; the slip road at Exit 9 leading into Punggol Road has been similarly upgraded.

However, during the evening rush hours, there is still a serious traffic build-up along this part of the TPE, caused by motorists using Exit 9 to enter Sengkang and Punggol.

Often, the jam stretches for kilometres, as vehicles jostling to enter Exit 9 occupy three of the four lanes on the TPE, leaving only the extreme right lane passable to traffic.

The culprit seems to be a large bus stop located just at the entrance of Exit 9.

To accommodate it and allow free passage of buses in and out of the bus stop, the two left-most slip lanes were designated for use by buses only. This leaves only two lanes for vehicles turning into Sengkang and Punggol.

There is even a concrete barricade erected to partition the four lanes. Farther up is a traffic light-controlled cross junction, which further impedes vehicle movements.

Adding to the chaotic situation is the implementation of the "give way to buses" rule, which requires vehicles to stop and give way to buses leaving the bus stop and turning into Punggol Town.

Expressways are built to accommodate large volumes of fast and free-flowing traffic.

Having all this infrastructure at Exit 9 has resulted in a bottleneck and curtailed vehicular movements along this part of the TPE.

Sengkang and Punggol are fast-growing towns with many new flats being built.

This gridlock will only worsen if the existing traffic arrangements are not reviewed and improved.

One way to mitigate the problem is to open the right bus lane to traffic turning into Sengkang, to free the two existing lanes for traffic going into Punggol.

The existing arrangement of closing the two left-most lanes for the exclusive use of the occasional bus seems to be a misallocation of precious road resources.

Goh Choon Poh