SINGAPORE: From end September, executive condo drivers such as those from The Terrace EC and Waterwoods EC entering Sengkang and Punggol towns from Tampines Expressway (TPE) can enjoy smooth travel, even during peak hours, according to the Pasir Ris-Punggol and Punggol East Grassroots Organisations and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Friday (Aug 28).
Over the past year, residents have complained about the bottleneck in traffic at the Sengkang-Punggol exit, which was the result of two bus lanes that opened in 2014. The bus lanes serve two bus stops and 11 bus services, while motorists currently travel on the other two lanes.
The bottleneck issue was brought up to the Chairperson of the Public Transport and Traffic Committee for Punggol North Loke Choon Wai, and Chairman of the Punggol East Citizens’ Consultative Committee Raymond Lye.
“When the bus stop opened in August last year, I think what became apparent very soon was that the traffic flow changed, because there were two dedicated bus lanes and there were two car lanes,” said Mr Lye. “So when the bus stop opened, I think the bus users were very happy because the bus stop was generally clear all the time for the buses, so the buses had a very smooth journey.
“But for the car owners, they realised that the traffic flow became worse. Jams started to build up, and during peak periods the jam could go all the way back to the KPE exit into the TPE.”
Mr Lye went on to explain that they had received feedback that the bus lanes were sometimes relatively empty while motorists faced congestion in the other two lanes during peak hour.
“I think some of the car owners got a little bit frustrated when they were caught in the jam, and they started driving into the bus lane,” he said, adding that when there appeared to be more unhappiness when traffic enforcers took photos of motorists who drove through the bus lanes.
“It’s like, ‘look, the car lanes are congested, the bus lanes are empty, so when I use the bus lanes, I’m not causing any congestion for the buses, so why are you doing this?’” said Mr Lye.
After months of discussions with the LTA, motorists will be able to travel on the outer bus lane, although they must still give way to buses when on this lane. The lane will feature a second Mandatory Give-Way To Bus road marking.
This will benefit buses exiting the first bus stop at the exit, before they continue straight on to TPE or turn right towards Punggol Town. It is expected to ease traffic congestion, and ensure commuters can continue enjoying smooth rides while travelling on public transport.
Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and Vice Chairman of Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council Janil Puthucheary, who lobbied for the enhancements to improve traffic at the exit, welcomed the approval of the proposed solution.
“This new bus lane enhancement is actually quite useful, because it gives the bus the right and also a path that is clear to bring our residents home,” said Mr Teo.