Driverless buses could feature at new Punggol Digital District: LTA

Driverless buses could feature at new Punggol Digital District: LTA

Driverless shuttle
An autonomous vehicle (AV) shuttle by NTU. (Photo: Kevin Kwang) 

SINGAPORE: Residents and people working in the proposed Punggol Digital District (PDD), which is set to open in 2023, can look forward to autonomous buses and shuttles to help them travel within the neighbourhood.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam Pin Min revealed plans for such driverless vehicles in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 6) to help commuters “improve first mile and last mile connectivity” in the area.

Dr Lam was responding to a question by MP Sun Xueling on the transportation network arrangements of the Digital District. The area, situated closely to the densely populated Punggol and Sengkang region of Singapore, looks set to be home to thousands of jobs in technology.

The opening of a new business and education hub in Punggol from 2023 will create 28,000 jobs in fields such as cybersecurity and data analytics, creating job opportunities “close to home”. 

In addition to a new Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station on the North-East Lin that will open in 2023, enhancements will also be made to the bus network, according to Dr Lam.

He added that the Land Transport Authority will also be expanding the Tampines Expressway (TPE) and the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) linking Punggol and Pasir Ris.

“We are also looking into the deployment of autonomous buses and autonomous on-demand shuttles in PDD from 2022 onwards to improve first mile and last mile connectivity for those working there,” said Dr Lam. “These provisions would enhance the connectivity of PDD significantly in the lead-up to 2030 when the Cross-Island Line in the Punggol region is expected to be ready.”

MP Ang Hin Kee raised concerns, though, that the potential deployment of autonomous vehicles for commuters could catalyse the island-wide deployment of such modes of transportation, affecting the livelihoods of bus drivers and taxi drivers.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam, however, reassured that those high-tech vehicles will only be introduced at the PDD for now.

“Deployment of autonomous vehicles will be in phases, but we understand concerns on the ground with the (potential) displacement of bus captains and taxi drivers,” said Dr Lam.

“Autonomous technology is advancing rapidly … and it may even extend to other parts of island as well,” he added.

Source: CNA/fr