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Contracts awarded for first phase of on-demand public bus services trial in Singapore

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore has awarded contracts worth $466,194.50 to two companies for the first phase of its trial of on-demand, dynamically-routed public bus services.

LTA called a tender in August 2017 to seek proposals from the industry to trial public bus services based on real-time commuter demand and along dynamic routes, instead of plying on the basis of pre-determined and fixed timetables and routes. Such customised bus services enable more direct journeys for commuters, while optimising resources.

Ten proposals were received from both local and overseas tenderers. Following a thorough evaluation process, American company, Via Transportation Inc. (Via) and local startup, Ministry of Movement Pte Ltd (SWAT) were assessed to have a strong understanding of the tender requirements.

These two companies also submitted comprehensive bids that were high-quality and good value-for-money. Via and SWAT were therefore awarded contracts for the first phase of the trial. Both Via and SWAT have proven track records in developing on-demand ride-sharing applications and operating real-time, dynamically-routed bus services. Via is currently operating on-demand bus services in major metropolitan cities, such as Chicago and New York. SWAT, which commenced operations in Singapore in August 2016, is a taxi ridesharing service using a real-time, data-powered approach.

The press release mentions that globally, on-demand bus services have been implemented in major cities such as Helsinki in Finland, Chicago, Minnesota, New York and Washington D.C. in the United States, and most recently, Sydney in Australia

During the first phase of the trial, both Via and SWAT will develop a dynamic matching and routing algorithm which will enable buses to be deployed according to real-time commuter demand, as well as pick-up and drop-off points.

They will also conduct simulations to demonstrate and refine the service standard and resource requirements to enable LTA to determine the operational trial parameters, such as the trial area(s). In the second phase, to be awarded in third quarter of 2018, the successful tenderer(s) will work with LTA and public bus operators to test and calibrate the software and hardware solutions before carrying out the operational trial from the fourth quarter of 2018.

In the lead-up to the operational trial, LTA will work with the bus operators and communities in the trial area(s) to familiarise residents and commuters on the use of such bus services. During the operational hours of on-demand bus services, LTA will continue to run selected low-demand feeder and/or trunk bus services providing similar connections at a reduced frequency, so that commuters who prefer the regular buses still have access to public bus services. More details of the operational trial will be announced closer to the implementation dates.

This is part of Singapore’s continued Smart Nation efforts to develop Smart Urban Mobility solutions that leverage data and digital technologies to enhance the public transport commute.

Recently, LTA released the Industry Transformation Map (ITM) for the land transport industry. The ITM calls for the development of autonomous buses and dynamically-routed, on-demand shuttles to enhance public transport by providing more responsive, efficient and convenient transport modes for commuters. The Ministry of Transport (MOT) and LTA announced in November last year that autonomous scheduled buses and autonomous on-demand shuttles will serve commuters in Punggol, Tengah and the Jurong Innovation District (JID) in Singapore from 2022.

Featured image: Singapore Buses - SG1048U on 860/ CC BY-SA 2.0

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