Bus-only roads a possibility in move to speed up bus travel: LTA

The Land Transport Authority said said it is working with industry experts to deploy smart solutions to help buses move more quickly. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Roads accessible only to public buses could make an appearance here in future as part of efforts to improve bus speeds, in line with the 2040 Land Transport Master Plan.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Saturday (May 25) it intends to progressively introduce transit priority corridors - areas where public transport is emphasised - across the island, beginning in the 2020s.

The LTA said it is now studying existing and future roads - including in areas such as Robinson Road and Loyang, as well as Woodlands North Coast, Tengah and Jurong Lake District - where initiatives such as giving buses priority at junctions with traffic signals and bus-only lanes can be introduced.

National University of Singapore transport analyst Lee Der-Horng said that the development of bus-only roads may encourage more people to take the bus, though he questioned how such a system would affect other road users.

"Given the limited road space, do we have this kind of luxury to have bus-only roads? This will require very careful planning," he said, adding however their introduction would be easier in new towns such as Tengah.

The LTA said it is working with industry experts to deploy smart solutions to help buses move more quickly.

"These include smarter traffic light control systems that can detect the presence of vehicles and pedestrians," it noted.

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The authority added that data from navigation satellite systems and artificial intelligence-based predictive analytics could also be used to optimise traffic light timings.

Only one corridor prioritising buses currently exists - at Bencoolen Street. Two years ago (2017), three of its four road lanes were converted to provide for a bus lane, a cycling path and a wider pedestrian walkway.

The 21.5km North-South Corridor - which will stretch from Woodlands to the city centre when completed in 2026 - will be the longest such corridor with dedicated bus lanes, the LTA said.

It said this will allow bus commuters to shave up to 15 minutes off their journeys.

Transit priority corridors could also feature dedicated cycling paths, running alongside bus lanes.

To improve first and last-mile connectivity, the Republic will have more than 1,000km of cycling paths islandwide by 2040.

The authority also intends to add to the nine existing integrated transport hubs, where bus interchanges are integrated with malls, to provide commuters access to amenities as well as greater connections between buses and trains.

Three such hubs - at Bidadari, Buangkok and Punggol North - are under construction.

There are also plans to build other integrated hubs at locations such as Beauty World, Bedok South, Hougang, Jurong East, Marina South, Pasir Ris, Tampines North and Tengah.

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