Less commuters were satisfied with public transport in 2020 according to a survey conducted by the Public Transport Council.
Fewer commuters satisfied with public transport in 2020

Fewer commuters were satisfied with Singapore's public transport last year compared with 2019, despite those who said they were happy giving public transport here a higher score. Still, a vast majority of Singaporeans - 97.6% - did not have too many complaints about the trains and buses here, and three in four said services had improved from a year ago.

This is according to the annual public transport customer satisfaction survey conducted by the Public Transport Council (PTC). The survey seeks to better understand commuters' needs and identify areas for improvement.

In results released on 2 February 2021, the PTC said satisfaction levels recorded last year were consistent with the pattern established in the previous four years, despite the unprecedented circumstances caused by the coronavirus.

Some discontent over reduced bus services to match lower commuter demand, for example, was compensated by people who were impressed by the deployment of public transport workers and ambassadors to help commuters at MRT stations.

Overall, public transport here was given an average score of 7.8 - same as in 2019 - by respondents. "Commuters continued to be satisfied with public transport in 2020... even though the proportion of commuters who gave a score of six and above dipped from 99.4% in 2019 to 97.6% in 2020," the PTC said. Those who gave a score of six and above were deemed to be satisfied with Singapore's public transport.

The 4,110 respondents were asked to rate MRT trains and buses in eight categories on a scale of one to 10. The categories were safety and security, waiting time, reliability, service information, bus interchange/bus stop/MRT station accessibility, comfort, travel time, and customer service.

The respondents had to rate the importance of each attribute to them, and their ratings for each were then weighted accordingly to give their overall satisfaction score. The survey was conducted between early October and late November last year. To participate, respondents scanned QR codes found on publicity materials located at transport nodes like MRT stations and bus stops.

The results showed that the satisfaction score for MRT trains was slightly higher than for buses, and that the largest improvement was in the safety and security aspect of MRT services, which increased from 7.7 in 2019 to 8.3 last year.

The PTC suggested that this could be due to the deployment of transport workers and ambassadors to facilitate movement. For buses, longer waiting times in some areas due to reduced services led to a notable drop of one full point from eight to seven. But this was partially made up for by an increase of half a point, from 7.5 to eight, for how accessible bus interchanges and bus stops were to the public.

The top three most important service attributes for people were reliability, travel time and waiting time, the last of which is a new addition. The former two were also most important in 2019, with comfort being third most important that year.

A separate Singapore Management University online survey in September last year found that fewer commuters during the circuit breaker period and the increased cleaning had led to 'substantial increases' in commuter satisfaction scores.

But scores later reverted to usual levels as commuters began to increase when Singapore reopened, as factors such as cleanliness, which was given more importance during the circuit breaker period, were replaced by perennial concerns such as service reliability and accuracy of travel information.