When talking about the transportation systems in cities around the world, Singapore’s public transport system is consistently cited among the best. This is largely attributed to the SMRT Corporation, which is the top multi-modal operator of public transportation in the nation-state.
SMRT Corporation operates and manages the train services on the Thomson-East Coast Line, Circle Line, East-West Line, North-South Line, and the Bukit Panjang Light Rail Transit. It also operates and manages buses, taxis, and private hire vehicles.
On August 1, 2022, SMRT CEO Ngien Hoon Ping succeeded former Group CEO Neo Kian Hong. Holding a degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the University of Manchester, U.K., and a National University of Singapore Master of Science in Systems Engineering, Mr. Ngien was the Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) Chief Executive from 2016 to 2020. He, therefore, brings to SMRT his engineering background and his experience in handling the transportation sector. This bodes well for the continued development and improvement of Singapore’s public transport system.
2020 Far & Wide Global Ranking: Singapore Public Transport is Best Globally
A popular travel website based in the U.S., Far & Wide, cited the public transportation system of Singapore as the best worldwide in 2020. It noted the system’s affordable rates compared to other cities in the world.
Children in Singapore are not charged fares up to 0.9 m tall. Tourists can purchase a card pass for $10 that will give them a day of unlimited rides on trains and buses. A comparable tourist pass costs the same in Hong Kong, but children are charged $5 if they are three to 11 years old. In Madrid, such a pass costs $13. In London, it costs $22.
Far & Wide also highlighted the high satisfaction rates of commuters with regard to Singapore’s public transport. It stated that the LTA continues to expand the transportation network, with 40 trains purchased for the East-West and North-South. Some of these will start operating in 2024.
June 2018 McKinsey Survey: Singapore Transport System
The 2018 report by consulting firm McKinsey titled “Elements of Success: Urban Transportation Systems of 24 Global Cities” showed that compared to residents of all the other cities in the study, Singaporeans were the most satisfied with their public transportation system. Around 86 percent of them said so.
Singapore commuters stated that they appreciated most the convenience of the electronic services provided by the public transportation system. The contactless ticketing system where the EZ-Link card is connected to an app was deemed outstanding. Passengers can top up their card through the app and also use it for other transactions, earning rewards. Electronic trip planners were also praised.
In addition, Singapore was cited for having one of the most affordable public transportation systems among the other major global cities studied. In addition to not charging fares for children, it also gives a fare discount of 15 percent for adult workers earning low wages. Along with seven more fare adjustments, over a million commuters have benefited since 2013.
The McKinsey report called the Singapore transport system best-in-class, with accessibility, efficiency, convenience, and affordability. Finally, the report cited Singapore’s public transport system as one of the most environmentally sustainable and safest in the world. It also noted that the LTA is working on implementing predictive maintenance to improve its trains’ reliability.
2020 Singapore Management University Survey: Improved Commuter Satisfaction
The Straits Times also reported that the Singapore Management University (SMU) conducted an online survey in 2020 among 7,500 commuters. Satisfaction scores for the train system from May to July 2020 were 73.4 points. This increased from 66.1 points in the same period in 2019.
For the public bus system, satisfaction scores from May to July 2020 were 74.4 points. This rose from 68.9 points in the same time frame in 2019.
2020 Schroders’ Global Rankings: 3rd Best in Transport Worldwide
In global investment firm Schroders’ list that ranks the best cities worldwide, Singapore rose from 13th place in 2019 to 11th place in 2020. Schroders attributes this to the nation-state placing third overall in transport, a new category for the listing.
Under the specifics of the new category, Singapore bested all other countries for its seaport, deemed the best in the world. Its mass transit system is also rated highly, with its roads ranking ninth globally, its trains ranking 14th, its buses ranking 20th, and its airport ranking 24th.
As can be seen, there are various factors that contribute to why Singapore’s public transport system has been cited as one of the best worldwide. These include affordability, convenience, efficiency, and sustainability. With the LTA continuously expanding the transportation network and improving its services, it is likely that Singapore will maintain its top ranking in the years to come.