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    Jun 24, 2016

    Free off-peak MRT rides to city extended to June 2017

    COMMUTERS will continue to enjoy free train rides into the city area before 7.45am until June next year.

    But getting them to travel outside of the morning peak period still depends on companies incentivising them to do so, said transport and recruitment experts.

    The free train ride scheme, which has been extended three times since it started in 2013, has cost the Land Transport Authority (LTA) more than $28 million up until March this year.

    LTA said it found a sustained 7 per cent of commuters have switched away from travelling during the peak hours between 8am and 9am, a spokesman said.

    In announcing the extension yesterday, Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo said more than 65,000 commuters benefit from the scheme daily.

    Asked if the free travel scheme would be made permanent, she added: "We really have to see how people respond to the idea of travelling off-peak. A lot of it has to do with whether their job requirements and family commitments allow them."

    A study into what works and what needs to be improved has to be done, she said.

    While acknowledging that any ease of congestion is good, Chin Hoong Chor, from the National University of Singapore who specialises in traffic management, said companies are in the best position to drive the success of the scheme by making it sensible for their workers to start early.

    "If companies can form a routine, make it culture, I think employees are more likely to stick to the routine even if the scheme ends," Associate Professor Chin said.

    The scheme applies to rides to 18 MRT stations in the city area on weekdays. Commuters who exit at these stations between 7.45am and 8am also get a discount of up to 50 cents off their train fare.

    Of the 10 commuters interviewed yesterday, six said that they would not change their travel habits for the scheme.

    Security officer Salim Bakri, 64, said: "If I come in early, I don't get to go off early. Not many people I know use it."

    Additional reporting by

    Malavika Menon and Cheryl Teh