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There Might Be No On-Demand Buses In S'pore After All, LTA Says It's "Less Cost-Effective"

In August last year, Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced that public buses could soon be an on-demand basis.

What this means is that commuters will be able to request for pick-ups and drop-offs at any bus stops within a designation area via an app.

It launched a six-month On-Demand Public Bus trial last December, covering Joo Kong and Marina-Downtown (weekday-service), CBD to Bedok and Tampines (night-service).

The trial aims to evaluate the feasibility of operating public bus services with routes and schedules based on real-time commuter demand, instead of following fixed routes and pre-determined timetables.

It is slated to conclude on June 15, but LTA said today that it will not roll out on-demand buses in Singapore anytime soon.

It cited high costs, adding that these buses were more expensive to run than regular, fixed-route buses.

Although they observed mileage savings, it is “less cost-effective” for on-demand public buses to be scaled up due to “high software development costs”, said LTA in a statement.

Compared to fixed and scheduled bus services, operated mileage in the same area was 18 per cent lower during the trial.

This means that fewer buses are required, explained LTA.

“Larger-scale deployment of on-demand public buses is expected to become more cost-effective in the future when the efficiency of algorithms improves,” the LTA said.

The system would also become more efficient when driverless buses are ready, it added.

Mixed Reactions To The Trial

To date, more than 26,000 rides have been booked and taken during the trial.

However, there is a “significant group” of commuters who were either unaware of the buses or refused to try the service out, according to an LTA passenger survey.

Following the trial, LTA said it would “optimise regular bus services” in Joo Koon and Marina-Downtown to serve commuters more efficiently.

Featured Image Credit: LTA

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