The COVID-19 outbreak led to a sudden and drastic change in how people live and work worldwide. And Singapore was no exemption. The government implemented several strict measures to prevent the further spread of the virus, including a total lockdown known as the Circuit Breake

During the Circuit Breaker, the government only allowed essential services to operate. Non-essential businesses had to close while people could only leave their homes for essential activities. These measures resulted in a significant decrease in the number of people using public transport and private cars.

To give you a better understanding of how COVID-19 transformed the transportation system in Singapore, here is a detailed rundown of the changes that took place:

Public Transport

The most significant change that COVID-19 has brought about is the dramatic decrease in the use of public transport. This is because many people work from home, and schools moved to online platforms. Since there is less need for them to commute to work or school, there is also less need for them to take public transport.

As for public transport networks, they had no choice but to implement health and safety measures to continuously provide a safe travel experience for passengers and minimize service disruptions. For instance, SMRT Corporation, a public transport services provider in Singapore, implemented the following measures during the height of COVID-19:

  • Conducting regular cleaning and disinfection of stations and trains
  • Providing hand sanitizers at all stations
  • Asking passengers to wear face masks at all times while on board
  • Enhancing contactless payments to reduce physical interactions

SMRT focused on key staff and operational control centers. They also provided medical care for employees to make they get to maintain their employees morale. The company updated its business continuity plan to cope with increased absenteeism and the pandemic threat. It succeeded in continuing business as usual amidst the height of the pandemic.

Fare revenues in 2021 fell by 30% during the Circuit Breaker while the number of MRT ridership dropped by 40%. The number of public transport passengers dropped to about 60% more than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has also stepped in to help the public transport operators by giving them additional funding during this difficult time.

Private Cars

car garage

With the decrease in public transport services, many people have turned to private cars as an alternative means of transportation. More people invested in their private vehicles to avoid taking public transport. They bought their own cars, so they won’t have to share space with other commuters and enjoy their own mode of transportation that they could control.

However, the number of private cars on the road has not increased significantly. The main reason for this is that the Circuit Breaker measures limiting the use of personal vehicles. People were only allowed to use their cars for purposes such as going to work or buying groceries.

The government still does not encourage the use of private cars even after lifting the lock down. It encourages people to take public transport, ride bicycles, and walk whenever possible. This prevents road congestion and promotes a green and sustainable transportation system.

Singapore’s government also introduced a distance-based pricing scheme for private cars and increased parking charges at HDB car parks. The government also invested in building more roads and expanding the MRT network to accommodate the increased number of vehicles.

Active Travel

During the COVID-19 crisis, more people engaged in active travel, such as walking and cycling. They do this knowing that it is a safe and healthy form of exercise that they can do outdoors. They do this as a way of maintaining their health during the pandemic and as an attempt to avoid using public transport.

The government also encouraged people to walk or cycle as much as possible with the launch of the Park Connector Network and the construction of more cycling paths. It also relaxed the rules on where people can cycle, allowing them to cycle on some roads and even in HDB estates.

However, not everyone is keen on walking or cycling. Some people find it too inconvenient, especially if they travel long distances. Others find it too dangerous, particularly if they share the road with cars.

The government still encourages people to use active travel even after the COVID-19 crisis. It is investing in more infrastructure to make it more convenient and safe for people to walk and cycle. It also promotes active travel through campaigns and initiatives such as the Walk, Jog, Run Challenge.

COVID-19 has profoundly impacted the transportation system not only in Asia but all over the world. It changed how people think about transportation and made consumers more aware of the importance of having a safe and efficient transportation system. The pandemic also showed that while the current transportation system is not perfect, there is always room for improvement. We can expect to see more changes in the transportation system in the years to come as we learn from the lessons of COVID-19.

Scroll to Top