Dissatisfaction with S'pore public transport rises: Survey

A major bugbear was waiting time, with only 80.9 per cent of commuters expressing satisfaction. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Dissatisfaction with public transport services in Singapore rose last year compared with 2020, as the proportion of commuters who said they were happy with buses and trains fell for the second year running.

This is shown in the annual public transport customer satisfaction survey conducted by the Public Transport Council (PTC), which seeks to better understand commuters' needs and identify areas for improvement.

In an online poll of 4,212 commuters aged 15 and older, 92 per cent said they were satisfied with public transport in Singapore, down from 97.6 per cent in 2020 and 99.4 per cent in 2019.

This was the lowest since 2015 when 91.8 per cent of commuters were satisfied.

Discontent with bus services here was a factor. When asked to rate bus services from one (least satisfied) to 10 (most satisfied), 90.8 per cent of the commuters gave an overall score of six or higher last year, down from 97.3 per cent in 2020.

Trains fared slightly better, with 93.6 per cent of those polled last year saying they were satisfied with MRT services, compared with 97.9 per cent in 2020.

A major bugbear was waiting time, with only 80.9 per cent of commuters expressing satisfaction. This was a particular issue for buses, with just 75.7 per cent of commuters happy about waiting time.

There were also fewer commuters satisfied with public transport reliability, comfort, travel time, customer service, and safety and security, compared with 2020.

However, more were satisfied with the service information provided and the accessibility of bus interchanges, bus stops and MRT stations.

In response to queries, the PTC said the dip in the proportion of satisfied commuters could be due to the Covid-19 situation, where some commuters may be more concerned about perceived long waiting times, safety, travel time and comfort.

It noted that the survey was done shortly after September last year, when intervals for some bus services had to be lengthened to make up for the loss in manpower due to Covid-19 clusters affecting bus drivers.

Last year, about 10 per cent of the 9,500 public bus drivers were affected by a Covid-19 outbreak at interchanges, leading to longer wait times and the suspension of five express services.

PTC's latest survey was conducted between Oct 11 and Dec 3 last year.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was the second year that the survey was conducted online instead of face to face.

To participate, respondents scanned QR codes found on publicity materials located at MRT stations, bus interchanges and bus stops.

The 4,212 respondents were asked to rate MRT trains and buses in eight categories on a scale of one to 10.

The categories were safety and security, waiting time, reliability, service information, bus interchange, bus stop and MRT station accessibility, comfort, travel time, and customer service.

Those who gave a score of six and above were deemed to be satisfied.

The respondents also had to rate the importance of each attribute, and their ratings were then weighted to give their overall satisfaction score.

The silver lining is that the average satisfaction scores for most of the categories remained relatively consistent last year. This indicates that commuters who were satisfied continued to rate public transport highly.

The average satisfaction score for public transport services in 2021 was 7.8, the same as in 2020 and 2019.

Commuters' average satisfaction with MRT services remained at 7.9, the PTC said, and buses were given an average score of 7.7, a slight dip from 7.8 in 2020.

In a Facebook post on Thursday (Feb 10), Transport Minister S. Iswaran said these scores showed that public transport workers here have been consistently keeping up their good work, despite the challenges and risks brought about by the pandemic.

Said Mr Iswaran: "A huge thank you to all our public transport workers for working tirelessly to deliver safe, reliable and comfortable commutes for all of us."

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