A Wordle semantic analysis of the NatGeo article on the Singapore solution
(props to Temasek Review for first pointing it out)
Click on the little red dot for a bigger view.

Categories: pol Tags: , , , ,


As you all know, the LTA’s vision is “a people-centred land transport system”. Oh you didn’t? How ignorant of you: it says so right there on their website.

Now, that is indeed a noble objective and one that will never be fully achieved, since people’s needs, and even the number of people, keep changing. Therefore, lifetime employment. Genius! Cyril N. Parkinson would have approved.

And sometimes this vision is manifested in the way things are done. Such as publicity for improvement works. Take the signboard for the Woodsville interchange. (Well don’t actually take it – that would be stealing). Rows of them are nailed up at the junction where the PIE meets Serangoon, Upper Serangoon, Bendemeer and Macpherson roads:

See, a good example is being set with the spiffy hybrid car and a multi-seater coach. Efficient, green, shiny, happy, etc. Fully on board with the people-centricity requirement.

What’s not to like? Read more…

Categories: transport Tags: , ,


So Levitt and Dubner have released their Freakonomics follow-up. In the popular style to which they have become accustomed, they “create” controversial ideas but then unlike actual scientists (or even journalists), fail to correct themselves when the error of their ways is pointed out. How erroneous? Let me count the ways:

Ken Caldeira, the climate scientist they interviewed for the book

RealClimate, the blog by actual climate scientists from NASA and other places

Paul Krugman, last year’s Nobel economics prize winner

and about 43,700 others.

I reckon they need to do the decent thing and edit all the unsold copies plus put up a prominent health warning on their website saying that the first edition is wrong. To paraphrase Depeche Mode, “I was suckered by the wrong side / with the wrong lies / talking up the wrong uncertainties”. Anything less would be intellectually dishonest… and we can’t have that from upright members of academia and the fourth estate, can we.

How ’bout it, Steves???

Categories: climate Tags: , , ,

Driving the wrong behaviours throughout the transport system

Will the real traffic planners please stand up?

LTA statistics say that from 2003 to 2008, the number of buses and road length in lane-kilometres both grew by 5% but the car population jumped 36%.

not the final solution (props:

not the final solution (props:

So… despite mushrooming ERP gantries, motorists face obscene jams plus chronic parking shortages. A bachelor of rocket science isn’t needed to see that 36 into 5 doesn’t go.

How about taking public transport? Read more…

Categories: transport Tags: , , , ,


So SUV stands for socially unacceptable vehicle, right?

No? Sport utility vehicle, you say?

OK, let’s parse that abbreviation.

Excess weight, jacked up centre of gravity, tall tyres, floppy suspension… yep, really sporty (not talking about you Cayenne drivers. Go try outdragging a GT2).

the higher you sit, the further you roll (photo credit: rw Photobug -

the higher you sit, the further you roll (photo credit: rw Photobug -

Now, utility-wise, the number of these vehicles with more than 5 seats is… er… come forward, Volvo XC90. Or the Toyota Hilux extra-long cab, or as it’s more commonly known, Fortuner. Apart from that, no more room inside than a typical medium size car. But wait, you say! I lurvvve the utility from the high seating position that lets me tower over lesser mortals! Well then, stop what you’re doing and go read what Mr Gladwell had to say about that.

As for “vehicles” – yes, that they indubitably are. All two tons or so.

Score: one out of three. Very bad, unless you wanna be a scholar at the Ministry of Truth.

I do believe in people’s inherent right to blow their hard-earned money on whatever stupidity floats their boat, as long as the externalities are all built into the price and those affected by said externalities are fully compensated. Clearly there is a lot of work to be done before externalities associated with SUVs are neutralised. Let me count the ways (the first three anyway):

1. Crappy dynamics = more accidents (see Gladwell article).

2. Bloated kerb weight + bigger engine to lug the whole shebang = worse fuel consumption = more global warming = Singapore under water in a couple more decades (might wanna reconsider buying that seafront property then).

3. Drivers who flick through traffic like motorbikes, when their vehicles are an order of magnitude bigger than a bike. Hypotheses: either they are “upgraders” from littler cars and ignorantly leave the same distance around them as before, or they believe they are travelling at relativistic speed and consequently, that their vehicle is shorter than it is when stationary. (Why yes Mr XC90, I’m looking at you. If I can see you, you ain’t at warp speed.)

Categories: transport Tags: ,

Things that go bump in the night (and day)

Ever driven over a manhole cover and regretted it, when your car feels like it might do a Raikkonen impression (see 1:00 into the video)? Why is it that the road contractors can’t align the road surface to the level of the cover… it can’t be rocket science, can it?

Then there’s the patchwork quilt left behind by roadworks. I’m sure you can give your favourite examples of these.

And you’d be in good company. The boys of F1 say that the Singapore circuit is the bumpiest in the whole season. After strenuous efforts have been made to get the track surface compliant with international standards, our mighty road builders have brought us yet another Number One… that is, #1 roughest circuit in the world. A race watcher might be excused for thinking that there was a mobile sparkler show on. Let’s see if we can have fewer carbonfibre accretions to the road surface this year.

You don't want to hit any of these

You don't want to hit any of these (

Meanwhile you, the mere taxpaying motorist, get a heapin’ helpin’ o’hurt every time you drive. Particularly on those low profile tyres so beloved of the people who don’t know how to go round corners properly.

This is a classic agency problem. Those who dole out the money, aka the agents, ain’t checking to see if it has been spent according to the wishes of the financiers (you, me and the millions of other road users). The financiers (you, me etc) don’t get to choose the agents nor set the conditions by which the performance of the contractors should be assessed.

You should be getting better value after paying among the highest road tax rates in the world. I mean, if you got a contractor in to do the floor of your house and he left it as unsmooth as the typical stretch of road, you wouldn’t pay him for such subprime work, would you?

Maths 101

So the LTA says that traffic has been kept smooth-flowing despite more vehicles being allowed on the roads. Here’s some ratio analysis to test this claim:

Extra lane-kilometres of road from 2003 to 2008: 471 (5.7 percent) [Link]

Extra cars from 2003 to 2008: 145,127 (35.8 percent) [Link]

Number of extra cars on each extra lane-kilometre: 308 (one every 3.25 metres)

Average length of new car: About 4.3 metres.


Not enough road space, so... (Photo credit:Dave_7 (

Not enough road space, so... (Photo credit:Dave_7 (

I know, I know, new cars were not all confined to new lane kilometres. Well then, Let’s Try Another subject then, oh I don’t know, how about English:

Adjective to describe average traffic conditions: OBSCENE

What say you?

Categories: transport Tags: , ,