Land Transport Policy and Public Transport in Singapore

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - vehicle, land use - planning, ridership - demand, policy - congestion, economics - pricing, organisation - regulation, place - urban, mode - rail, mode - mass transit, mode - subway/metro


Vehicle quota scheme (Singapore), Urban planning, Travel models (Travel demand), Travel demand, Transportation policy, Transportation planning, Transit, Town planning, Technology, Singapore, Regulations, Regulation, Rapid transit, Rail transit, Public transit, Policy making, Policy analysis, Metropolitan area planning, Mass transit, Local transit, Infrastructure, Heavy rail transit, Congestion pricing, Community planning, City planning, Case studies, Automobile ownership


This paper reviews Singapore's land transportation policy, with special emphasis on its public transportation systems. Singapore has a sophisticated and efficient system of land transport to serve a growing demand for transportation. Constrained by limited space, a comprehensive set of land transport policies has been in place to balance the growth in transport demand and the effectiveness and efficiency of the land transport system. A multi-pronged approach has been used to achieve the objective of a world-class transportation system. These include integration of urban and transport planning, expansion of the road network and improvement of the transport infrastructure, harnessing the latest technology in network and traffic management, managing vehicle ownership and usage, and improvement and regulation of public transport. Singapore was the first country in the world to introduce various new techniques, notably the area license scheme (ALS) in 1975 and the vehicle quota system in 1990. An electronic road pricing system replaced the ALS in 1998 to take the role of congestion management. In 2003, the world’s first and only fully automatic heavy rail mass rapid transit system was opened to the public. The positive effects of this comprehensive set of policies are evidenced in the level of performance achieved on Singapore road and public transportation systems.