Virtual bus lane trial in Lorong Ah Soo to start next month

SINGAPORE – From next month, motorists using Lorong Ah Soo in Hougang will see a new traffic feature which alerts them to approaching buses.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Monday (Sept 27) it is starting its “Virtual Right of Way” trial for buses from mid-October. The move was first reported by The Straits Times in December.

Electronic sign boards along Lorong Ah Soo towards Hougang Ave 3 will light up automatically when a bus is approaching to encourage motorists to give way.

In a Facebook post on Monday morning, the authority indicated that this was one way of harnessing technology to “encourage gracious behaviour on our roads and create smoother journeys for commuters”.

For motorists turning left along this stretch of road, they can continue to use the lane for turning during the trial, which will last till January.

According to the LTA, installation and testing works for these panels will commence on Monday.

The idea is not completely new.

Variations of virtual bus lanes have been proposed or trialled in cities in Britain and Switzerland in recent years.

Early last year, transport researcher Meng Xie spoke about a dynamic bus priority system in the TUMCreate journal.

TUMCreate is a public transport research platform manned by researchers from the Technical University of Munich and Nanyang Technological University.

It is funded by Singapore’s National Research Foundation as part of the Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise.

Ms Xie said the virtual right of way “aims at improving bus operation while minimising potential negative impacts on private vehicles”.

Responding to the initiative, Facebook user Vincent Koh said: “It’s not the technology but the people using it. No way around behavioural issues. It takes 30 years (for us) to return trays… How long is this going to take (for us) to be courteous on the road?”

There are 211km of bus lanes in Singapore that give buses the right of way from 7.30am to 9.30am, and from 5pm to 8pm on weekdays. Of these, 23km are full-day bus lanes, which operate from 7.30am to 11pm from Mondays to Saturdays.

The upcoming North-South Corridor, a highway linking Woodlands to the city, will have bus lanes along its entire 21½km length in both directions.