Learn from Singapore to improve public transport

OLIVER Wyman Forum and University of California recently unveiled the Urban Mobility Readiness Index that ranked cities with the best public transport system. Singapore came up on top.

Separately, McKinsey & Company had also produced their own index last year to measure the best public transport system in the world. Singapore also appeared at the top.

There must be something right about the city state’s public transport that we can learn from.

Singapore’s public transport is multi-modal, which means the entire infrastructure adopts several modes or types of public transport such as bus, mass rapid transit (MRT), light rail transit (LRT) and monorail.

In the late 1970s, Singapore was deliberating between having an all-bus system or a bus-rail system.

Despite having a team of experts from Harvard University pushing for the all-bus system, the government opted for the more expensive bus-rail system and began the construction of their first MRT.

The multi-modal system may be more expensive but it provides targeted solutions that correspond to the various needs of urban mobility.

For instance, a rail infrastructure, whether MRT or LRT, is more effective at high-demand corridors while buses work better in neighbourhoods with short-distance stops.

A good public transport infrastructure has various modes to complement each other to deliver the best result.

It is high time Malaysian cities adopt the multi-modal principle to improve our public transport.

Comprehensive strategies like the Penang Transport Master Plan – comprising LRT, monorail, tram, bus rapid transit or BRT and other transport modes – is an instructive model of how public transport infrastructure should be planned locally.

JOSHUA WOO, , Penang

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