Traffic jams ease at new Bedok interchange
On Monday, he was just a stop away from getting off the bus at the new Bedok Integrated Transport Hub (ITH).
But what should have taken just a few minutes turned into an agonising 30-minute wait for Mr Sin, 57, as a long line of buses slowly queued up to get into the new interchange, which opened on Sunday.
"I was trapped inside the bus, and it felt like a prison," said the mechanic, who had boarded bus service number 87 from Tampines to meet some friends after work.
Since then, Mr Sin has been taking the train home to Bedok instead.
But he may no longer have to fret about taking the bus home, as the traffic flow at the ITH appeared to have smoothened.
Costing $23 million and spanning 16ha, Singapore's largest bus interchange took three years to build.
Linked to Bedok Mall and Bedok MRT, the transport hub has 29 bus services.
But since its opening, there have been many complaints regarding jams, with commuters reporting long waiting times for their buses to enter the interchange.
One bus captain, who declined to be named, said the jams affected the bus schedules. He said: "Some of my colleagues were saying that they were stuck for up to 45 minutes."
Commuters cited a number of reasons for the jam, ranging from an additional traffic light slowing down the vehicles, to the limited number of alighting berths at the interchange, and a recently decommissioned bus stop near the interchange which had previously offered commuters an alternative place to alight.
The New Paper team visited the interchange during the evening rush hour on Wednesday to record the average time it took for a bus to travel from the last bus stop to the interchange, a distance of about 750 metres. It took 18 minutes - an improvement, but still a delay.
When the same TNP team went to the ITH yesterday at the same time, traffic entering the interchange appeared smooth.
There were no signs of delays, as buses travelled with ease into the station.
Student Maurice Lim, 19, said he was pleased that the jams appeared to be over.
He said: "I've heard stories about the jams and it sounded quite bad, but things seem to be all right now, so I'm glad they managed to fix the problem."
Another commuter, who declined to be named, attributed the cause of the jams to teething problems at the new interchange, and said things will be smoother with time.
"There are bound to be problems when a new place opens as no one is familiar with it yet, but the delays should be gone now that there has been a settling in period. There shouldn't be any complaints," said the commuter.
"It can still be improved, but it is no longer as bad as it was during the first few days."
- Mrs Annie Lam, a housewife
Fixing the jam
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it has taken measures to keep traffic and bus operations flowing smoothly even before the launch of the Bedok Integrated Transport Hub (ITH).
But following the jams, an LTA spokesman said further steps have been taken to help ensure that traffic continues to be eased on the roads leading to the interchange.
"We had since made adjustments to the traffic signal timings and bus operations, and will be monitoring the traffic situation closely and will continue to review for further adjustments to enhance the traffic flow," the spokesman told The New Paper.
Another possible reason for the smoothening of traffic at the ITH is that both commuters and bus captains are now more familiar with the routes.
Mrs Annie Lam, 63, a housewife, said that the delays are getting shorter because the bus captains are slowly getting used to the new interchange.
She said: "It can still be improved, but it is no longer as bad as it was during the first few days."
The LTA has also deployed staff to guide buses into the new interchange.
3 CAUSES OF JAM
1 INSUFFICIENT ALIGHTING BERTHS
Now, there are only four berths for buses to drop passengers off, when previously there were more. Commuters say they are insufficient to cope with peak-hour traffic.
2 DECOMMISSIONED BUS STOP
Previously, this bus stop, which is near the interchange, gave commuters an alternative place to alight, especially since it was nearer to the mall and MRT station.
3 ADDITIONAL TRAFFIC LIGHT
A third traffic light to regulate buses turning into the interchange from two separate roads is causing buses to stop more often, leading to more vehicles backing up.