Bus, train ridership rises to new high

Commuters made more trips by buses, trains and private-hire vehicles last year, but continued to shy away from taxis.

According to the latest statistics from the Land Transport Authority (LTA), bus ridership grew by 1.5 per cent to a daily average of 4,099,000 last year, while train ridership grew by 2.6 per cent to 3,592,000.

Combined, they pushed public transport ridership to yet another record of 7,691,000 trips a day - a rise of 2 per cent. It was the 15th consecutive year of growth.

The train ridership increase came on the back of an expanded network, while the rise in bus patronage was fuelled by more buses and higher service frequency under the bus contracting model.

Observers also pointed to Singapore's growing population as a major component behind the ridership growth.

The city state's population grew by 1.2 per cent, or 64,900 people, to 5.7 million last year.

Assuming half of them took public transport and made an average of four trips a day, that adds up to an additional 129,800 trips - or the bulk of the ridership increase reported by the LTA.

Meanwhile, taxi trips fell by 13.5 per cent to 353,000 a day, while private-hire vehicle trips rose by 20.7 per cent to 419,000 a day.

Together, these point-to-point trips amounted to 772,000 a day, up 2.3 per cent from 755,000 in 2018.

These trips outnumber LRT trips, which are included in train trips, by more than three to one.

 

LRT trips averaged 208,000 a day last year, up 4.5 per cent from the year before.

Taxi trips have been on the decline since private-hire players entered the market from 2013.

When asked how the coronavirus outbreak has influenced ridership, the LTA said yesterday: "Public transport and point-to-point transport ridership typically declines around the Chinese New Year period, and this year is no exception."

During the severe acute respiratory syndrome crisis in 2003, public transport ridership fell by as much as 30 per cent, significantly impacting the earnings of operators.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2020, with the headline 'Bus, train ridership rises to new high'. Print Edition | Subscribe