In this episode of Researching Transit, Dr Waiyan Leong, Chief Transport Economist of Singapore’s Land Transport Authority, joins Professor Graham Currie to discuss transport economics and project evaluation.
Dr Leong explains the scope of research undertaken by his five-member team, comprising four economists and a psychologist. Two key areas of focus are travel behaviour change and traditional economic analysis. Dr Leong discusses some of the field trials designed in-house by his team, including the gamification of travel to school, to encourage uptake of non-car (‘car-lite’) modes among primary school students. He also shares findings from the 2013 trial of demand-shifting initiatives, designed to alleviate congestion during the peak with free and discounted travel. Trials and policy evaluations enable Wai Yan’s team understand the nuances of these demand management strategies and identify the initiatives that give the best return-on-investment. His team made the important discovery that when it comes to shifting peak travel “…a 50 cent discount is almost as effective as free”.
On-location in Singapore in early 2020 (pre-COVID shutdowns), Professor Currie remarks at the visible success of integration of land use with transit. Dr Leong reveals how a robust post-implementation review process helps LTA assign the correct benefit to new projects. He shares insights from a review of the cost-benefit analysis of Singapore’s North East Line, which opened in 2003.
“…we need to think a little bit harder about what sort of wider benefits we include in our project appraisal”
Findings from the post-project evaluation suggest that the value individuals living near the train stations put on the increased access to jobs afforded by the opening of the line was higher than the conventional benefits estimated before project implementation.
Read more about LTA’s evaluation of wider economic benefits, using the North East Line as a case study:
Venter, C. and Leong, W.Y. 2018, Workshop 6 report: Wider impacts of public transport and successful implementation of desirable and beneficial projects, Research in Transportation Economics, 69, pp. 489 – 493. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.retrec.2018.08.006
Le, H., Lim, W.L., and Leong W.Y. 2018. Land enhancement and intensification benefits of investing in an urban rail network, Research in Transportation Economics, 69, pp. 512-522. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.retrec.2018.04.009
Music from this episode is from https://www.purple-planet.com