The Constant and Steady Effort to Keep Singapore’s Public Transit Humming

What makes Singapore one of the world’s best countries? One answer is transportation. Granted, the city-state is small, so it should be easier to get around. Building infrastructure should be more affordable and faster.

However, it also doesn’t rest on its laurels. Instead, it continues to upgrade its assets to keep up with the times.

Expanding Railways

By 2030, Singapore’s SMRT plans to extend the rail network to 360 kilometres, which means it could now connect eight out of ten homes within 10 minutes to a station.

By then, the railway network in the country will be so extensive that its length will exceed that of Tokyo and Hong Kong and will be comparable to that of London and New York.

Commuters can also download the SMRT app, which provides real-time updates on their train services. If a delay is detected on the line they’re taking, commuters can use the app to catch an earlier train and even change their destination if needed.

Newer trains on the track, on other hand, will already include sensors and platforms that can perform a wide variety of tasks:

  • A monitoring system for trains collects data from the equipment. This helps to monitor the health of the train and predict when it will need maintenance.
  • Another tool helps find which parts in the track, rails, and sleepers need to be fixed. It also checks if there is anything wrong with them.

The current collector shoes will be equipped with sensors to detect if they become dislodged. If this happens, the operator will be able to take action promptly.

The railway network also looks into improving existing infrastructure. For example, when the 20-year-old Bukit Panjang LRT is updated, commuters can look forward to a better traveling experience.

Some of the positive changes that passengers can look forward to include a new signalling system that helps speed up the journey. It will allow the trains to travel more closely to one another, which means shorter waiting times.

Further, sensors and real-time condition monitoring tools will allow problems to be discovered early on. Rides will also be more comfortable as some of the units will already feature climate-controlled smart systems and energy-efficient lights.

The SMRT CEO Neo Kian Hong, meanwhile, works on improving workplace culture to minimise human errors and failures that had significantly affected the railway network’s performance before.

Electric Buses on the Road

Over the years, the benefits of electric vehicles have become obvious. For example, they have a reduced environmental impact due to lower emissions. They are not dependent on oil and, therefore, not affected by the fluctuating prices of the commodity in the market. They also operate more quietly than traditional gas-powered vehicles.

In line with its goal to become more sustainable, Singapore has embraced electric vehicles even in its public transport.

A fleet of electric buses will be deployed for public transportation in Singapore, part-way through its 2030 goals, to make the country more sustainable. The country plans to introduce nearly 6,000 buses that run on cleaner energy, whether hybrid or electric, by 2040.

To complement the presence of these buses, various government agencies have been working together to install at least 600 electric vehicle charging stations around the country. They are also looking into ways to address the future challenges that come with the adoption of this technology.

Meanwhile, in 2021, the country introduced electric buses with a new kind of charging method called pantograph or overhead chargers. In this setup, electric buses will pull up into their berths, and the driver lowers the charger. Because it is fast, it can power up buses up to 450 kilowatts in less than 20 minutes.

Singapore Taxis Go Electric

ComfortDelGro Taxi, Singapore’s largest taxi operator, announced on 5 January that it will deploy 400 entirely electric taxis by the end of this year, marking the first mass deployment of electric taxis in Singapore.

ComfortDelGro Taxi will have about 10 per cent of its 10,000 taxis fully electric by 2023 and another 70 per cent hybrid taxis, which it has been purchasing in bulk in recent years to transition to more ecologically friendly operations.

To support this transition, the Singapore government is providing major incentives for citizens to switch from combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs). In 2021, more than $30 million in rebates were given out, and 1,636 people changed their car or taxi registration over.

Under this new Electric Vehicle Early Adoption Incentive scheme, which kicked off on 1 January 2021 with an available period until 31 December 2023, those who buy fully electric cars or taxis can receive up 45 per cent off additional fees capped at $20,000.

On the whole, Singapore is leading the charge to implement sustainable technologies for its public transport systems. These initiatives are part of an overall commitment toward achieving more sustainable development in the island nation.

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