By Zenia Pang
Here are some random mobility nuggets to start your day. In 2019, the peak hour public transport mode share was 67%. For weekday commutes, the bus was more popular than the MRT (53.19% vs 44.15%). On average, people spend 84 minutes daily on their commutes. To put this into perspective? Right now, our population stands at 5.7 million. This is a 1.2% growth over 2019. By 2024, we’re projected to reach 5.8 million.
Population and transport have always existed in a symbiotic relationship, their dynamics a constant reactionary flux that yields to the capricious tides of globalisation and personal habits. With our population on an unceasing climb, rethinking our transport system to accommodate a higher ridership is necessary. Through Smart Mobility 2030, this vision of ubiquitous transport efficiency has morphed from a distant mirage into a reachable reality. Singapore has been investing heavily in technology to optimise operations, allowing resources to be diverted to areas where they are needed the most. It’s at this junction of technology and efficiency where RushTrail is eager to raise the bar.
Enter our new Region to Region (R2R) service, led by on-demand technology and aimed at bettering the lives of troubled souls encumbered with the inconveniences of distance. This service tackles “ulu” areas, ferrying passengers from all corners of this space to a common industrial hub (e.g. the Central Business District and industrial parks). On 17th August, we launched this service with the Yishun to one-north line.
RushTrail’s R2R service is unique in that it provides passengers in the serviced region with more than a single route to get to places. Typically, transport services lay down routes based on surveys that have sketched out the contours of the region’s demand pool - where there is a higher demand for rides, there will be a stop. This results in the one fixed route that runs a long, winding path through the estate before exiting the region. People who live away from the main route get left out. In contrast, our dynamic AI algorithm collects and pools demand data in real-time for a more efficient commute that’s open to all.
Another common gripe is that public transport is not as pervasive as we wish it to be. One of the main barriers to convenient commuting is the rigidity of fixed mobility routes. Getting to work often entails walking to the bus stop, where you will take a bus that brings you to an MRT station, so that you can take a train that will then drop you at the stop nearest to your office, in order to engage in a 5-minute brisk walk in the morning sun before finally reaching your destination. This is what we call “multiple transits/transfers”, and we hate it as much as you do. With us, you can leave these cumbersome days in the dust. Again, our handy algorithm can save you time and money, on your way to make that money. You can travel to work directly from the bus stop or pick-up point nearest to you, saving you spades of commute time. Fun fact: passengers from Yishun generally take 1.5 hours to reach one-north. With RushTrail, it only takes 45 minutes.
But where does R2R stand in our COVID-plagued world? It may be too premature to start inscribing speculations to stone, but we can already tell that social distancing is a trend that will stick around. To avoid the usual rush hour crowds, people will be looking not only for other means of transport, but also other times for transport. With an on-demand algorithm that can seamlessly accommodate these changing habits, RushTrail’s R2R is poised to prove its mettle.
We Singaporeans are forward-looking people. Even without the anticipatory glimmer of the government’s Smart Nation initiative, we know that technology is the reigning crown of tomorrow. In recent years, crisis after crisis have been flooding our radars in a danger-red wash - the climate crisis, our ever-present resource limitations, and with 2020, a global pandemic that seems unlikely to ebb any time soon. With these conditions, Singaporeans are going to be pickier than ever with their decisions. We will want to make the best choices not just for ourselves, but for society, and our planet. We want transport efficiency and sustainability, personal safety, and ultimately, a future that’s rosy enough to look forward to.
Zenia Pang is a fan of books, food, and happy endings. She is a writer for WiseOwl, and spends much of her time with coffee and The New York Times Crosswords. She loves laughing, and is very capable of talking the ears off a wall.