SINGAPORE (Jan 29): The only thing worse than a train breakdown is a train breakdown that leaves commuters with no options to get to their destinations. It leads to unattainable expectations of reliability and a corrosive mistrust of the whole transport system. The Land Transport Authority finally seems to realise this.

On Jan 21, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan wrote in a Facebook post: “In tandem with the acceleration of rail-asset renewal, LTA is also considering running more buses along key rail stretches, especially during peak periods. This can strengthen the resilience of our public transport network, providing it with some sort of a backup when needed.”

For years, LTA had emphasised a so-called hub-and-spoke model, consisting of buses feeding passengers on to trains. It adopted a distance-based fare structure in 2010 to ensure commuters could switch transport modes without incurring a penalty. In LTA’s own words, it allows Singapore “to avoid wasteful duplication of resources by ensuring that buses provide complementary services along corridors served by the rapid transit system”. In its 2008 Land Transport Masterplan, LTA’s view had been that “the entire public transport system should be treated as a whole, not separate parts, that is, buses versus trains”.

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