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Written Reply by Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan to Parliamentary Question on Further Attempts for Bus-On-Demand Trial

08 Jul 2019 In Parliament

Prof Lim Sun Sun asked the Minister for Transport in view of the discontinuation of the bus-on-demand trial due to high software development costs and poor commuter take-up

a.     whether options to lower such costs have been explored through opening up software development to more players; and

b.     whether a more concerted effort to educate commuters could be made before concluding the trial.

Reply by Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan:

1.     The six-month on-demand public bus or ODPB trial was concluded last month. It has achieved its objective of providing insights on resource requirements and commuter acceptance. We found the ODPB to be less cost effective than regular bus services. One factor was the high software development costs. This is so even though the open tender attracted competitive bids from ten local and overseas players.

2.     As with all new technologies, public acceptance takes time and effort. LTA worked with both the ODPB operators and software developers to raise awareness among commuters in the trial areas. Posters were put up at major public transport nodes, and ground ambassadors were deployed to offer assistance to commuters. LTA also engaged stakeholders directly served by the ODPB services. While some commuters were initially uncomfortable with booking a bus ride using mobile phones, many gave it a try with more than 29,000 rides booked and taken. 

3.     LTA is open to conducting further trials of the on-demand concept in future. As the technology matures, we can expect the large-scale deployment of ODPB to be more cost effective. We will also build on these initial engagement efforts to educate commuters on the concept.