The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will embark on a one-year trial from 24 June 2013 to provide free travel on the rail network for commuters who end their journey before 7.45am on weekdays at 16 designated MRT stations in the city area.
In addition, commuters who exit at these stations between 7.45am and 8am will be given a discount of up to 50 cents off their train fare. The Government will be funding this one-year trial.
The objective of the trial is to encourage commuters who are able and willing to make changes to their travel schedule, to travel earlier into the city area before the peak hour. This would help spread out the morning peak hour crowds to the pre-peak period, and ease the crowding situation on city-bound stretches of the MRT network as there are about one-and-a-half to two times as many commuters traveling on the MRT into the city area in the half hour after 7.45am compared to the half hour before.
It is part of the Government’s effort to try to alleviate the morning peak hour crowding situation on trains in the short term, even as rail capacity is aggressively being increased through new lines, additional trains, as well as higher train frequencies in the longer term.
The free travel trial will be a significant enhancement to the existing SMRT Early Travel Discount scheme, which offers up to 50 cents discount for travel on SMRT lines into 14 SMRT stations in the city area before 7.45am.
It will also entail a wider coverage compared to the current scheme as it will include SBST’s North East Line (NEL) and Sengkang and Punggol LRTs (SPLRT) i.e. commuters who enter at stations on NEL and SPLRT and exit at the designated city area stations will be eligible for the discount.
In addition, the two NEL stations in the city area – Clarke Quay and Chinatown – will be included in the scheme, bringing the total number of designated city stations from 14 to 16, or essentially every MRT station in the city area.
Free travel before 7.45am
Commuters must exit at any of the 16 designated stations in the city area by 7.45am on Mondays to Fridays (excluding public holidays) for the train portion of their journey to be free. The train journey must not begin at any of these 16 designated stations.
The 16 designated stations are Bugis, Chinatown, City Hall, Clarke Quay, Dhoby Ghaut, Lavender, Orchard, Outram Park, Raffles Place, Somerset, Tanjong Pagar, Bayfront, Bras Basah, Esplanade, Marina Bay and Promenade.
Up to 50 cents discount from 7.45am to 8am
To encourage even more people to make the effort to travel early, commuters who exit at the 16 designated stations between 7.45am and 8am, on Mondays to Fridays (excluding public holidays), will receive up to 50 cents off their train fare. Currently, there is no discount offered during this period.
This will also allow commuters who miss the cut-off timing for free travel by a few minutes to enjoy some discount.
Injecting additional pre-peak train capacity
To cater to the expected shift in ridership, more train trips will be injected during the pre-peak morning period to provide additional capacity. LTA will work with the train operators to continually monitor and further adjust the injection of additional capacity as necessary.
Employer support for off-peak travel
LTA is working with employers to facilitate their employees to travel pre-peak to take advantage of the free travel should they wish to do so. A two-year consultancy pilot, Travel Smart, was launched in October 2012.
To date, three of the 12 organisations under the Travel Smart pilot have obtained management approval to implement action plans recommended by the consultant to facilitate off-peak and sustainable travel. These Action Plans include putting in place flexi-work arrangements such as staggering working hours, and measures to facilitate these arrangements, such as introducing IT facilities to enable employees to work remotely and even providing shower and locker facilities to encourage active travel.
The organisations participating in Travel Smart include Rajah and Tann and BP Singapore, with over 600 employees each. They are starting to implement the recommended Action Plans. The remaining organisations are working with the Travel Smart consultant, AECOM, to develop their Action Plans.
LTA will be monitoring the progress of the implementation of these practices in all pilot organisations and will consider rolling out workplace-based travel planning beyond these pilot organisations after reviewing the results.
Other off-peak rail travel incentives
Commuters travelling off-peak can also accumulate points for rewards under the ‘Incentives for Singapore’s Commuters’, or INSINC scheme. The number of INSINC participants now stands at more than 85,000, up from 35,000 last October.
INSINC was launched in January 2012. INSINC participants accumulate points for rewards when they travel on the rail network on weekdays. Commuters who start their journey during the shoulder-peak hours of 6.30am-7.30am and 8.30am-9.30am on weekdays will accumulate more points for rewards.
LTA is also exploring customised travel incentive pilot programmes for employees and students. This will support the efforts of employers and Institutes of Higher Learning that are prepared to put in place flexible arrangements for their employees and students to travel off-peak. More details will be provided when ready.
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