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Is It Realistic To Encourage Off-Peak Train Travel In Singapore?

Train commuters who travel during peak morning periods could get more monetary rewards if they change their travel times to off-peak periods” (It Pays To Take Off-Peak Trains, Mr. Daryll Nanayakara).

Proposals to persuade Singapore commuters to take the trains during off-peak hours or decongested periods appear to be disproportionately idealistic.

The public transportation research study conducted by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Stanford University – as explained in the news report “It Pays To Take Off-Peak Trains” (January 11, 2012) by Mr. Daryll Nanayakara – is a constructive endeavour to address demand-management techniques in Singapore. While it is a worthy effort to study how the use of financial incentives, introduction of web-based interaction and increased insights into peak commute times can potentially reduce overcrowding, attempts to encourage off-peak train travel might be an uphill struggle.

Would Encouraging Off-Peak Train Travel Be Realistic?

Proposals to persuade Singapore commuters to take the trains during off-peak hours or decongested periods appear to be disproportionately idealistic, because working hours – and corresponding starting hours – are inflexible. The monetary incentives could encourage some households to make minor adjustments to their daily lifestyles, from arranging earlier childcare to adjusting timings of meetings and appointments, but the end-results might turn out to be marginal. In essence, most individuals have neither the luxury nor the liberty to make significant changes to their daily travel times.

Researchers might contend that there was a lack of awareness and public consciousness; however, SMRT’s rebate scheme of up to thirty cents for trips before 7.45am – launched in October last year – has not yielded positive benefits during rush-hour traffic. The impact of such negligible monetary motivations seems to be largely-limited.

Besides the present study, it would be intriguing to understand if the Land Transport Authority (LTA) would be developing more coherent studies to tackle supply-side considerations.

Singaporeans would be interested to learn about tangible, cited instances in other countries, where similar incentivised methodologies have led to a sizeable reduction of travellers on board trains. It is imperative to comprehend how different strategic frameworks have generated varying results in dissimilar parts of the world; at the same time, other, more viable demand-management techniques can be explored. Singapore’s scenario is particularly unique given the geographical concentration of the central business district, and how employees descend upon it from the heartlands; therefore, external examples cannot be conveniently extrapolated here.

Tackling Supply-Side Considerations

Besides the present study, it would be intriguing to understand if the Land Transport Authority (LTA) would be developing more coherent studies to tackle supply-side considerations. Overcrowding has been a chronic, persistent problem; naturally, the LTA should look into traditional solutions – such as raising the frequency of train services, giving more detailed information about parallel routes et cetera – and determine their feasibility.

Addressing the problem of overcrowding requires a concerted effort from both the people and the authorities; still, the latter cannot blame the former for its apathy if the aforementioned plan of incentivising non-peak-hour travel crumbles. Solutions to our woes, in the future, must definitely be premised upon a degree of necessary realism.

A version of this article was published in My Paper.

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About guanyinmiao

A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting. Carlos Castaneda.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Is It Realistic To Encourage Off-Peak Train Travel In Singapore?

  1. Hi, your article is so unreadable and I am so tempted to understand what you are saying and to re-write it. Sorry for being itchy-handed.
    The public transportation research study conducted by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Stanford University is a commendable effort to address demand-management issues in Singapore. While it is a worthy effort to study how money incentives, web-based interaction and more knowledge of peak commute times can possibly reduce overcrowding, to try to encourage off-peak train travel might be difficult.The idea of persuading Singapore commuters to take the trains during off-peak hours or decongested periods looks hugely idealistic, because working hours are inflexible. Perhaps monetary incentives could encourage some households to make minor adjustments to their daily lifestyles, but the end-results might turn out to be marginal. This is because most individuals have neither the luxury nor the liberty to make significant changes to their daily travel times.The researchers say that there was a lack of awareness and public consciousness. However, SMRT’s rebate scheme of up to thirty cents for trips before 7.45am – launched in October last year – has not seen rush-hour traffic reduced significantly. Thus, that 30 cents savings are limited in its purpose.
    Besides the present study, we users of public transport would like to know if the Land Transport Authority (LTA) would be doing something to increase transport supply.
    We want to know of examples in other countries, where similar incentives lead to less train travellers. We need to understand how different methods work in other countries. Before we talk about increasing supply of transport, we have to keep in mind that Singapore is rather unique because the many people work in the central business district and throngs of workers travel from the housing estates each day to work in CBD. So what works well elsewhere may not work here. Other than this study, we would like to know if LTA would be looking into the supply-side. Overcrowding has been a chronic, persistent problem. Shouldn’t it be the most natural thing for LTA to look into traditional solutions – such as increase the frequency of train services, give more detailed information about parallel routes etc and determine if these actions are feasible.
    The problem of overcrowding requires both the people and the authorities to work together. The government cannot blame commuters if the money incentives do not work. For any solution to work, it must first and foremost be realistic.

    Posted by anon | January 18, 2012, 2:08 pm
    • No worries about that. Is it the diction, or the expression of the entire article? I do concede that sometimes I get carried away with my writing and end up with lengthier sentences.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | January 18, 2012, 10:48 pm

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