A growing urban population and lack of available physical space have made traffic management increasingly challenging in Singapore. In total 12 percent of Singapore’s land is occupied by roads today, with 15 percent of land area devoted to housing. Continuing to expand the road network to address the growing transportation demands has not been seen as a sustainable option.
To address these demands it has been necessary to maximize the capacity of the road network. Policy tools have been complemented by technologies leveraging on intelligent transportation solutions along the entire transportation process in the city.
Singapore has implemented a sophisticated Intelligent Transport System in addition to a number of transport initiatives – including free public transportation in pre-morning peak hours, a vehicle quota system, congestion charge and an extensive public transport system.
The city has pioneered the introduction of a variety of technologies to the system, including one of the world’s first Electronic Road Pricing systems (ERP – tolls that vary according to traffic flows, and work as a congestion charge). The ERP uses a short-range radio communication system to deduct charges from smart cards inserted in the vehicles. Other Intelligent elements include an Expressway Monitoring and Advisory System, alerting motorists to traffic accidents on major roads and a GPS system installed on the city taxis, which monitors and reports on traffic conditions around the city. All information from the systems feed into the Intelligent Transport System’s Operations Control Centre, which consolidates the data and provides real-time traffic information to the public.
“Intelligent” is also the way the Land Transport Masterplan brought together the public, private stakeholders, and other government agencies to discuss the many issues Singapore faces in their land transport policy. A number of innovative approaches aiming to engage citizens were used, including focussed group discussions, online feedback on the Talk2LTA portal, and the Great Transport Challenge 2020 e-game, from which the insights obtained by players were taken into consideration in the Masterplan.
Thanks to its Intelligent Transport System, Singapore is one of the least congested major cities, with an average car speed on main roads of 27 km/h (17 miles per hour), compared to an average speed of 16 km/h in London, 11 km/h in Tokyo, and 5 km/h in Jakarta. This is an impressive feat considering that the population has more than doubled since 1990.