Full-day bus lane hours to be extended

Two stops in city with no bus bays will also be put on 'give way' scheme

From March 21, full-day bus lanes, like this one located in Eu Tong Sen Street, will be in operation till 11pm.
From March 21, full-day bus lanes, like this one located in Eu Tong Sen Street, will be in operation till 11pm.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Buses are to receive even greater priority on Singapore's roads, in an effort to give passengers quicker journeys.

The operating hours of full-day bus lanes - those marked in red - will be extended until 11pm from March 21, up from the current hours of 7.30am to 8pm.

There are 23km of such bus lanes in Singapore, mostly in the city centre, according to the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

Meanwhile, two bus stops in Orchard Road will be in the Mandatory Give Way to Buses scheme from March 21. They will be the first set of stops without bus bays in the city to be put on the scheme - under which motorists must give way to buses pulling out of bus stops. One is opposite Mandarin Orchard, and the other is at Midpoint Orchard.

The LTA will determine within six months of implementation how well this scheme works for bus stops without bus bays, and whether it should be applied to similar bus stops in other locations.

Since 2008, the Mandatory Give Way to Buses scheme has been rolled out at 332 bus stops. Other than for two bus stops in Tampines Expressway, the scheme has so far been implemented only at bus stops with bus bays.

Motorists who drive in bus lanes during restricted hours face a composition fine of $130. The fine for not giving way to buses exiting stops in the Mandatory Give Way to Buses scheme is also $130. Offenders face significantly harsher penalties if they refuse to pay composition fines, and are hauled to court.

LTA said summonses issued for bus lane offences have fallen from about 54,800 in 2014 to about 42,500 last year. "We have also observed a steady reduction in offences over the past six months, with monthly numbers falling from about 3,800 in July 2015 to about 2,100 in December 2015," a spokesman said.

The number of tickets issued for Mandatory Give Way to Buses offences, however, trebled from about 1,700 in 2014 to about 5,600 last year. The LTA spokesman said this could have been because of heightened enforcement.

Transport consultant Bruno Wildermuth said the extended bus lane hours (8pm to 11pm) should not be a problem for motorists since those are off-peak hours. As for Orchard Road, he said: "Orchard Road should actually be a pedestrian and public transport-only road. Hence giving less priority to cars is not a bad approach."

Motoring enthusiast Lee Chiu San said: "I accept that public transport must take priority - as long as there's still room for cars.

"You can have a 'car-lite' economy, but I don't think it is possible to have a car-free economy."

The 69-year-old retiree however, said the Mandatory Give Way to Buses scheme in Orchard Road was harder to comprehend: "There is already a full-day bus lane in operation. There should be nothing in front of a bus except another bus. So I don't understand it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2016, with the headline 'Full-day bus lane hours to be extended'. Print Edition | Subscribe