As one of the smallest countries in the world, Singapore has to be creative regarding transportation. With a land area of only 719.1 square kilometers and a population of 5.9 million, the island nation doesn’t have much room to work with. Despite these constraints, Singapore has built one of the world’s most efficient and sustainable transportation systems, making them a model for other cities to follow.
Let’s take a closer look at how they did it.
1. Prioritizing Public Transit
The Singapore government made several strategic decisions to get people out of their cars and onto public transit. First, they invested heavily in public transportation infrastructure, building extensive bus and rail lines crisscrossing the city-state. They also kept fares low, making public transit affordable for people of all income levels.
They made this possible by working with SMRT Corporation Ltd, the city-state’s public transport operator, to keep operating costs low. With the SMRT CEO, Ngien Hoon Ping, at the helm, they set out to increase efficiency and reduce wastage. Many of their strategies were successful, and as a result, fares have remained low while still providing excellent service.
They also implemented policies discouraging car ownership and use, such as congestion pricing and strict parking regulations. This has made driving less appealing and public transit more attractive. But, most importantly, it has helped to reduce traffic congestion, making getting around the city much easier.
These efforts have paid off handsomely. Today, 75% of all trips in Singapore are taken on public transit, one of the highest rates in the world. The average resident takes 842 public transit trips per year, more than double the global average. Not only is public transit efficient and cost-effective, but it’s also environmentally friendly; by getting people out of their cars, Singapore’s mass transit system cuts down on pollution and helps fight climate change.
2. Making Walking and Cycling Safe and attractive
Another key element of Singapore’s transportation strategy is its focus on making walking and cycling safe and attractive options for short trips around the city. To make streets more pedestrian-friendly, Singapore has created an extensive network of pedestrian walkways and cycle paths that are well-lit and well-maintained. They’ve also implemented traffic calming measures such as speed limits and speed bumps to make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
One of the most successful pedestrian-friendly initiatives has been the Park Connector Network. The Park Connector Network is a system of green spaces and parklands connected by pedestrian and cycle paths. It provides a safe and scenic way for people to walk or cycle around the city, and it’s become a popular leisure activity for residents.
Singapore also has robust public bike-sharing systems, Anywheel and SG Bike, which make it easy and convenient to rent a bicycle for short trips around the city. With over 4,000 bikes available at numerous stations, Anywheel is one of the largest bike-sharing systems in Asia.
As a result of these efforts, walking and cycling now account for 15% of all trips made in Singapore. This is a significant increase from 5% in 1990, and it’s helped to make the city more livable and enjoyable
3. Integrating Land Use and Transportation
Singapore has taken a holistic approach to transportation, integrating land use and transportation planning to create a more sustainable city. One of the most critical aspects of this is the development of new towns. New towns are satellite cities connected to the main city by public transit. They are designed to be self-contained, with everything from housing and schools to offices and retail space. This reduces the need for residents to commute into the city for work or errands and helps spread out the population, making the city more liveable.
Singapore has developed a comprehensive package of transportation subsidies and discounts to incentivize people to live in new towns. Residents can get discounts on public transit, parking, and road tolls. They also receive subsidies for electric bicycles and cars. This makes it more affordable for people to live outside the city center while still being able to get around quickly.
The development of new towns has been a huge success. Today, over 80% of Singaporeans live in Housing Development Board (HDB) housing, most located in new towns. This has helped to reduce traffic congestion and make the city more sustainable.
Singapore’s well-designed transportation system is a model for other cities looking to create a sustainable future. By investing in public transit, discouraging car use, integrating land use and transportation, and making walking and cycling safe and attractive alternatives, Singapore has built an efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly system. With climate change posing an ever-growing threat to our planet, it’s more important than ever for cities to follow Singapore’s lead in creating sustainable transportation systems.