How to create a world-class bus system

I have been taking buses for more than 20 years.

Once, my wife (then my girlfriend) was thrown down the stairwell of a double-decker bus. She had a nasty bruise on her back for months afterwards.

I assumed all bus drivers drove that way, until I moved to Germany and saw how careful the drivers there were. They move at a constant speed and do not brake or speed up whenever they like.

They come to a stop slowly and in a predictable way. They enter the bus stop area at a constant low speed. I never felt carsick in one of those buses. And I thought to myself: "Now this is a world-class transportation system!"

I returned to Singapore and I found the drivers here worse than ever. A friend from Indonesia who took a bus with me commented that the buses here are even more scary than the ones in Jakarta. I felt ashamed.

I have sent suggestions to the bus companies and got responses saying the drivers involved would be given demerit points. But people are still getting hurt while travelling on buses here.

I think we need to do the following to get a world-class bus system:

Install devices in the buses to track the speed. Drivers who break speeding rules should then be made to pay a fine, not given demerit points.

Install cameras that will allow the bus companies to create a pattern analysis. Bus drivers who tend to be too jerky or who drive too close to the vehicle in front can then be spotted.

Put up cameras at bus stops. This can help to check on bus drivers and can also be used by the Land Transport Authority to fine other drivers who stop there.

In addition to punishing erratic driving with fines, reward good driving with money. This will incentivise good driving.

The quality of bus driving here has to improve, to prevent injuries or worse for passengers.

(TNP reader, Ng Tat Keong)

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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