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S'pore's transport network is best in class: study

[SINGAPORE] The Republic has the best transportation network of any city of its type, according to a study The Mobility Opportunity commissioned by Siemens.

The German conglomerate had engaged consulting firm Credo to look at transportation networks in 35 major cities around the world and assess how prepared cities are to meet future challenges, including population growth and higher competition.

Transport, says the study presented at the World Cities Summit, is considered one of the major factors of a city's competitiveness. But a lack of financial resources constrains a city's ability to invest in its transport network.

It said that The Mobile Opportunity is unique in seeking to put an economic value on the cost of inefficient transport, thus helping cities make the case for investment.

Some of the factors considered were journey times, crowding and network density, all of which impact a city's productivity. In order to have a reasonable comparison, the study groups cities into three categories to account for different levels of wealth and development.

Copenhagen in Denmark is the most cost-efficient in the "Well-established cities" category, while Santiago, Chile tops "Emerging cities".

Singapore, meanwhile, is the best in class city for "High-density compact centres", with a high-capacity system that is able to meet demand with minimal crowding and high levels of user functionality. Thus, the Republic is able to cope with future growth.

Singapore is also praised for its long-term planning, helped by highly integrated governance; reliability and punctuality levels; and provision of air-conditioning on almost all of its public transport vehicles.

As the world leader in its sector, Singapore's only immediate weakness is a relatively low network density which leaves some areas poorly connected.

But according to the study, long-term development plans and continuous investment to maintain the existing high standards are all that is required for it to retain its position.

The study found that if all the 35 cities examined implemented relative "best in class" standards, they stand to gain an economic benefit of up to US$238 billion annually by 2030. Singapore's economic opportunity is pegged at $1.2 billion.

Extrapolating to all comparably-sized cities globally with a population of around 750,000 and greater, it said that this suggests an economic opportunity of roughly US$800 billion annually, or about one per cent of global GDP. Today, the potential benefit would be about US$360 billion per year.

"All cities can learn from the leading cities in their category in order to close the gap of their transport networks' efficiency, reduce costs and increase productivity," said Credo partner Chris Molloy. "Because the more efficient a city's transport network is, the more attractive the city is to business and people."

Roland Busch, CEO of Siemens Sector Infrastructure & Cities, added that "the best transportation systems are the ones that move people quickly, easily and comfortably to their destination", with a clear strategy of how to meet future needs.