A Research Platform for Singapore



In Phase 2 TUMCREATE is carrying out research towards the ultimate public transport system for Singapore.

In Phase 1 TUMCREATE developed expertise and a host of powerful methods and tools to explore the design space for these new transport solutions and their infrastructure. In Phase 2 we will use these tools and expertise to develop and demonstrate new connected traffic system concepts together with new vehicle and infrastructure modules that capitalise on the latest AV and ITS technology.

We are seeking to visualise what the public transport system could look like from 2030 onwards.

This vision is aligned to long term LTA planning and incorporates smarter interactivity between:

  • passengers and vehicles;
  • vehicles and other vehicles; and
  • vehicles and the transport system (roadways, passenger stations, vehicle charging points)

Our concept vision is a public transport system that

  • smartly services mid-level travel demand through innovative technologies and pro active transit control to increase the passenger capacity without taking away vital space for dedicated infrastructure,
  • evolves the design of vehicles and stopping facilities to enable fast and comfortable operations,
  • is flexible to cope with demand fluctuations in an economic way,
  • explores the opportunities opened by automated driving and electrification to increase its economic and ecological sustainability.

The current Singapore Public Transport System

Singapore is a small island state with a growing population. It is not possible to expand the land area, hence Singapore must become more efficient with its public transport system to cater for the growing population and need for fast and easy commuting.

Singapore already has an extensive fixed rail MRT structure which serves all parts of Singapore. The MRT structure currently consists of over 170km of track with more than 100 stations on 6 interconnected rail lines. Each MRT train consists of 6 carriages and has a capacity of 1920 passengers. This MRT structure forms the backbone of the public transport system and is currently being extended with new lines, line extensions and new station plans running to 2030 and beyond. It is the only form of high volume rapid passenger transport across many areas of Singapore.

In addition to the relatively fast and sparse MRT network, Singapore has a dense road network which currently carries other forms of public transport such as taxis and busses as well as private transport in the form of private cars and motor cycles. The road network also carries commercial vehicles such as trucks and vans.

As a result of the increasing population and increasing number of road vehicles, the road network is becoming overloaded in some areas resulting in increased fuel consumption, pollution and delays.

Our Vision

TUMCREATE is investigating new road based public transport systems and vehicles which integrate with the backbone MRT system to optimise personal transit and transfer times when travelling from point A to point B. Concurrently, we are seeking to minimise the amount of energy used and reduce the congestion on the roads. This would be achieved through an efficient public transport system resulting in a reduction in the number of private vehicles.

The core questions we are addressing are:

  • Which operational concepts can bridge the gap between the high capacity MRT and the low capacity urban bus?
  • How can a new mid-capacity system (Semi-Rapid Transit, SRT) be integrated in an existing public transport and road traffic structure?
  • How can new engineering and control technologies help make more efficient use of urban road space and accelerate the new SRT?
  • What vehicle can deliver the flexibility and the capacity needed on the SRT?
  • How can we make use of innovations such as automated driving and electrification to increase the performance of the SRT?
  • How can we evaluate an SRT and similar policy options rationally and demonstrate their full potential from the point of view of transportation, energy, sustainability and user perception?

The future public transport system will share the public road network with other vehicles. Our vision is where there are autonomous vehicle modules which can operate independently as small/medium capacity vehicles or may couple, either physically or electronically, to form a larger train or platoon or modules with high capacity at peak hours. These vehicle modules may have dedicated lanes on the road network or share lanes with conventionally driven vehicles. Modules may join or leave a platoon according to their specific destinations providing a supply-on-demand Semi-Rapid Transport solution.

Our research areas

At TUMCREATE we are one interdisciplinary team working on the project “Towards the Ultimate Public Transport System”. The interdisciplinary team has 6 research areas working towards our mission and vision.

The area Rapid Road Transport (RRT) investigates ways to close the capacity gap between the bus and the MRT system by the introduction of a new Semi-Rapid Transit layer (SRT). The objectives of the RRT research are:

  • develop a holistic SRT system in planning and operation - utilising the opportunities given by the analysis of Big Data
  • present an integrated concept of SRT corridors functioning cooperatively with the existing network of MRT and busses
  • harmonise system requirements on the SRT through out all of the project’s areas
  • develop transportation control methods to ensure fast and reliable SRT operation on the road network with respect to the needs of all modes
  • develop passenger information and guidance systems for cases of incidents that make use of big data in order to tailor the strategies on the passengers needs
  • create a holistic monitoring environment of transportation service quality (multi-modal) that enables short term tactical and long term policy decision making support.
  • Enable the introduction of electrification of road infrastructure and assist in the rationalisation of road infrastructure maintenance.

In AIDA (Area-Interlinking Design Analysis), transport models are investigated in detail using modelling and simulation techniques with the results being made available to all other areas. AIDA serves as a centre-point and integrator of diverse concepts and technologies for the other areas, which would otherwise have to be developed in isolation. Furthermore, AIDA provides common data structures and information logistics for the collaboration of all the other areas on all operational levels. AIDA is the product owner of the “virtual demonstrator”.

With emphasis on automated traffic management and deployment of autonomous vehicles (AVs) for SRT, the area Sensing and Management for Agile Transport (SMAT) provides sensing technologies to enable a “virtual right-of-way” for the SRT, to collaboratively detect traffic incidents, and to aid the enforcement of traffic rules. SMAT is organized around the working hypothesis that the agility and key performance indicators of the public transport system can be significantly improved by enabling enhanced flow of information between the demand and the supply sides.

In the area Design for Autonomous Mobility (DAM) the challenges of autonomous driving are investigated in the context of public transport. Novel concepts for meeting those challenges are under investigation. The concepts developed for enabling autonomous driving are complemented by the novel technologies developed under SMAT. In addition, the user experience in the presence of autonomous vehicles is investigated.

The working hypothesis of the area Individual Mobility Vehicles & Services (IMVS) is shared with RRT: it is to close the transport capacity gap between bus and MRT in Singapore and similar cities. While RRT looks into the overall transport concept, IMVS uses those outputs to propose detailed vehicle concepts (e.g. flexible minibus) to suit this new transit mode. TUMCREATE will come up with an overall transport solution, to which IMVS will contribute the suitable vehicle concept, co-developed with support from DAM, SMAT and AIDA.

The area Electrification Suite & Test Lab (ESTL) is dedicated to electric mobility that reduces local emissions and improves the quality of city living. For a seamless integration into the power system, demand side management strategies are under investigation. In order to make the electricity supply “greener”, alternative sources of energy and their storage options are considered, both from within and outside of Singapore. On-the-road charging and improvement of reliability using stationary energy storage systems will be developed in close cooperation with RRT as the charging infrastructure is mutually dependant on the SRT layer. Design alternatives for the charging infrastructure in the presence of modular and scalable vehicles are also under investigation.