Friday, 17 July 2015

Off-peak travel eases train crunch

Minister notes schemes keep about 10,000 commuters off trains during morning rush
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 15 Jul 2015

Off-peak travel schemes have managed to consistently keep 7 per cent to 8 per cent of commuters off the trains during the morning peak period. That is about 10,000 people or six to eight MRT trains full of people, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo.

She revealed the figure yesterday at the Land Transport Authority's (LTA) Travel Smart Day event.

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Travel Smart is a host of initiatives aimed at easing the public transport crush during the morning peak from 8am to 9am.

It provides cash rewards to commuters, and grants and funding to companies if they implement schemes to boost off-peak travel.

Last year, the LTA launched the Travel Smart Network - a collection of organisations and employees - which now has more than 60 companies on board, with over 160,000 employees. It had started with only 12 organisations.

"Even commuters who are unable to shift out of the peak travel in the morning are benefiting from less crowded trains during the morning peak," Mrs Teo said, before kicking off a workout routine for 150 Travel Smart commuters.

She added that organisations that have joined the Travel Smart Network help to manage travel demand with initiatives such as flexi-work arrangements.

"The consistent feedback is that while pre-peak travel is not for everyone, more people are willing to make a lifestyle shift if their employer supported it," she said.

For instance, DBS Bank allows its employees to start work at any time between 7.30am and 9.30am.

The bank's Singapore head of human resources, Ms Theresa Phua, said these schemes have helped with staff retention.

"Some of our staff members have kids, so they can drop them off early and then leave early to pick their kids up," she added.

As the bank is a member of the Travel Smart Network, its staff earn extra points which allow them to win cash rewards on the Travel Smart Rewards scheme.

Finance analyst Cresencia Lee, 28, has won $402 on the scheme over the past three years, after she started commuting after 8.45am.

Previously, she would start her trip to work about 15 minutes earlier. "I get a little more sleep and now I make it a point to have breakfast with my mum in the morning," she said.

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