Two off-peak travel schemes to be reviewed

'Time to take stock' as transport network has expanded; schemes extended till year end

The Public Transport Council (PTC) will review two initiatives aimed at easing peak period congestion on the rail network, the Ministry of Transport said yesterday.

Since the Free Pre-Peak Travel and Off-Peak Pass schemes were introduced, in 2013 and 2015 respectively, various other measures have been launched to increase the capacity of Singapore's public transport network, said the ministry.

These include the extension of the Downtown Line, which will add another 16 stations to the MRT network in October, as well as the introduction of 950 additional buses as part of the Bus Service Enhancement Programme.

It is thus "timely to take stock and review the effectiveness and continued necessity" of the two initiatives, said the ministry.

The Free Pre-Peak Travel and Off-Peak Pass schemes, which were due to expire this month and next month respectively, will be extended until the year end.

Since 2013, the Free Pre-Peak Travel scheme has allowed commuters to travel for free if they reach any of 18 MRT stations in the city area - including Bayfront, Raffles Place and Tanjong Pagar - before 7.45am. Those who alight at the stations between 7.45am and 8am enjoy a discount of up to 50 cents.

More than 65,000 commuters currently benefit from the scheme, said the Land Transport Authority, adding that there has been a "sustained reduction" of 7 per cent in the number of commuters during the morning peak period.

An average of 13,000 off-peak passes are sold each month. These passes, which cost $80 per month, allow adult commuters to enjoy unlimited rides on buses and trains during off-peak hours on weekdays and all day on weekends and public holidays.

Dr Lee Der-Horng, a transport researcher with the National University of Singapore, said he "was not surprised" that the schemes were being reviewed.

Commuter behaviour is not easy to change, he said.

"Those willing to respond to these incentives and change their travelling times would have already done so," said Dr Lee, adding that the expansion of the network removed the need to continue to incentivise off-peak travel.

The reviews will be conducted in parallel with the fare review exercise later this year, with the findings to be announced by the year end.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2017, with the headline 'Two off-peak travel schemes to be reviewed'. Print Edition | Subscribe