Incentives given as reward for improving service reliability

It’s become almost common practice for Singaporeans to complain about public transport, and then blame everything on poor Minister Lui Tuck Yew.

4 minutes of waiting time for the train during rush hour? #LuiTuckYewOut

Bus doesn’t come on time? #LuiTuckYewOut


But in an effort to improve bus service reliability, a pilot test was implemented by the two bus operators, SBS Transit and SMRT, and it appears to have worked.

Improvement in bus arrival times

The Bus Service Reliability Framework (BSRF) trial measures how regular a certain bus service arrives using the concept of Excess Wait Time (EWT), which is the average additional waiting time experienced. 22 different bus services participated in this trial, with 18 showing marked improvements.

Because of these improvements, SBS Transit earned about $710,000 for improvements to 11 services, while fellow operator SMRT earned around $346,000 for improvements to seven services.

The EWT is measured at intervals of 0.1 minutes, which equates to 6 seconds. Hence, for every 6 seconds of improvement or deterioration, there will be incentives and penalties respectively:


According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), both operators were not penalised because none of the services on trial had deteriorated by 6 seconds or more.

Don’t rejoice too soon

Although the efforts of the bus operators is commendable, UniSIM transport analyst Park Byung Joon commented that the BSRF represents only a small sample which operators could have easily dedicated more resources to.

“When you expand this to the entire bus service, whether bus companies have the capability to do it, that’s something we have to see.”

Also, National University of Singapore transport expert Lee Der Horng pointed out that commuters do not measure waiting time in seconds. He suggested that bus services be further improved by having buses arrive more frequently.

Well duh, even the official transport app from LTA tells me my bus arrival time in minutes only.

Why an incentive program was used

“The incentives will help to offset the costs incurred by the public transport operators to hire the additional service controllers to support the BSRF.”

-Land Transport Authority

We wonder why it always has to be money that makes these bus operators get to work. Can’t they do something decent for reasons NOT related to profit? It’s little wonder why these netizens are enraged at this incentive program.


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It’s really quite weird when two privately-run companies have to rely so much on government help in order to deliver good service to commuters. If so much government reliance is required, why not just nationalise public transport? And unless SMRT and SBS quit being babies dependent on the mother state to feed and sustain themselves, these complaints from Singapore will never stop.

And of course, our favourite comment:

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Featured Image via Twitter and Imranwrites
With reference to Channel NewsAsia , TODAY. The Straits Times