“It will expand its rail capacity aggressively, speed up bus travel and make integration between the rail network and bus services more seamless, he said” (LTA On Track To Alleviate Congestion: Bus And Train Trips Upped To Ease Woes, Miss Rachel Chan).
Congestion in public transportation – namely Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) trains and bus services – has been increasingly prevalent, with this trend attributed to the steady increase in Singapore’s population. Given the public’s extensive reliance on these assorted modes of transportation, because of its corresponding network and affordability, it is imperative for the Ministry of Transport (MOT) to quell frustrations and dissatisfactions effectively and efficiently. The assortment of proposals put forth by Minister Raymond Lim, as well as the review efforts reflected in the Public Transport Customer Satisfaction Survey – in the news report “LTA On Track To Alleviate Congestion” (March 9, 2011) by Miss Rachel Chan – are positive steps in the right direction; but nagging doubts remain over the efficacy of the new proposals in addressing the myriad of pertinent concerns.
How would the increase in MRT train trips be managed and distributed? Increasing the number of available trips per week seems to be the obvious short-term solution; after all, since it is a matter of supply and demand, increasing trips would simply match the rise in consumer-commuter demand. However, if the increase is poorly handled, and time between rides is not managed properly – especially during peak hour traffic – carriages would continue to be uncomfortably overcrowded. Train trips must be timely and regular, with the focus premised upon shortening intervals.
Heightening safety, and granting disabled or physically-handicapped passengers greater accessibility. The issue of safety is an important point for consideration, particularly when crowding reach critical levels, and there are insufficient grab-poles or handles for standing commuters. Without adequate infrastructural measures in place, accidents might become prevalent if the train comes to a sudden or emergency stop. This peak-hour mayhem also makes it virtually impossible for disable or physically-handicapped Singaporeans to travel from point to point in the midst of the traffic. Viable solutions include the designation of specific sections or carriages situated near the elevators for usage by these individuals. Modelling after the concept of the existing fleet of special buses, customised elements can be included for their comfort and convenience.
Comprehending consumer satisfaction. Statistics and numbers only give limited insights into the quality of service; beyond quantitative analysis, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the MOT should render their reviews more qualitative. Coupling anecdotal recommendations on bus and train services, relevant administrators and staff should make first-hand trips during designated periods of time, and gain insights or perspectives on commuter woes. This would certainly make their policy reviews more credible, and solutions naturally more feasible.