Govt set to offer free, cheaper rides to ease peak hour congestion

Elizabeth Soh
Elizabeth Soh
Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said in Parliament that the government is "seriously considering" a suggestion by Member of Parliament Janil Puthucheary to offer free public transport travel during pre-peak periods (Yahoo! file photo)

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew is "seriously considering" offering free, or cheaper rides to early commuters to alleviate peak hour congestion.

Lui said in Parliament on Tuesday that his Ministry may implement this idea as a way to get commuters to travel out of the peak period travel timing of 8.30 am to 9.30 am.

"We are still studying whether we should simply increase the current 50-cent discount substantially to say, $1 or to go all the way to make it free for commuters travelling before a certain cut off time," he said.

"If we can get even 10 to 15 per cent of commuters in the peak period to travel say up to an hour earlier, we would achieve a very perceptible improvement in commuters' daily travel experience to get to work."

This was said in response to Pasir Ris-Punggol MP Janil Puthucheary's suggestion last week that commuters be allowed to travel free for about 30 minutes until 7.45 am every weekday to spread out human traffic - a proposal that was supported by several other MPs.

However, Lui warned that shifting every commuter using discounts or free travel out of the 8.30am to 9.30 am peak period could potentially create a 'new peak' earlier in the morning instead.

Existing incentives and discounts have shifted a total of about 3 to 4 per cent of commuters away from travelling during peak periods.

Lui said that a better solution to solve the peak hour crush would be if companies were to put in place flexible-work arrangements to adjust working hours so that employees can leave earlier. He cited measures by other companies such as having IT facilities to work remotely and shower facilities in office.

Lui said 12 organisations had signed up so far for the Travel Smart pilot programme launched by the Land Transport Authority, which had various programmes put in place to incentivise employers to set up flexible-work arrangements.