Illustrative image (Source: www.straitstimes.com)

Hanoi (VNA) – Singapore is piloting an on-demand public bus service for six months, using technology to reduce congestion and costs in what could be a model for gridlocked cities in the region.

Commuters can request pickups and drop-offs at any bus stop within a designated area through a mobile app, the Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in a statement.

The service can “optimise limited resources while offering more seamless and convenient bus journeys for commuters in areas or during times with low or unpredictable ridership”, it said.

The trial will begin in selected areas in December and later extended.

This model is suitable for Singapore because of the island country’s high population density, said Walter Theseira, a transport specialist at the Singapore University of Social Sciences.

Singapore strictly regulates private transport, resulting in high costs, so private alternatives are not going to be as attractive, he said. The cost of owning a car in Singapore is among the highest in the world.

He noted that despite the country’s fast expanding public transport system, there are always going to be areas where demand is not sufficient for fixed-frequency bus services. So it is needed to have a mix of scheduled, high-frequency trunk services, supplemented by on-demand for lower demand routes and areas.

On-demand buses can even work in cities that do not have a well developed public transport system, said Jarrold Ong, co-founder of Ministry of Movement. Like with developing countries who skipped landline telephones and went straight to mobile, cities can skip fixed-route buses and go straight to on-demand.

Singapore needs to make sure it is user-friendly for the elderly and those less tech savvy, he added. –VNA