A Research Platform for Singapore


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 the island. 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 buses 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 Research

In Phase 2, TUMCREATE is carrying out research towards the ultimate public transport system. We are seeking to see the evolution of the urban bus system to a more convenient, connected and efficient public transport system.


TUMCREATE is investigating the concept of a Dynamic Autonomous Road Transit (DART) system that consists of a fleet of mixed-size modular electric, autonomous road-based vehicles, with high level secure communication between vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-intelligent infrastructure, to realize an efficient, attractive and comfortable mobility service. 


The DART system can provide all public transport needs below the MRT passenger capacity.


The core questions that we are addressing:

  • What are the different operational concepts of the DART system to supplement different public transport modes based on demand, travel time and ride comfort?
  • How do we integrate DART system into an existing public transport system and implement essential road traffic structure?
  • How do we use new engineering and control technologies to create a more efficient urban road space and accelerate the system to reduce travelling time?
  • What are the environmental benefits and potential in increasing the performance of the DART system through full electrification and autonomous driving?
  • How do we evaluate DART and similar policy options rationally and demonstrate their full potential from the point of view of transportation, energy, sustainability and user perception?


Our Research Areas

At TUMCREATE we are one interdisciplinary team working on the project “Towards the Ultimate Public Transport System”. Six research areas have been identified to realize the DART concept.


The area of Rapid Road Transport (RRT) identifies suitable application of the DART concept and develops guidelines and methodologies for planning, operation and integration of the system into an existing transport system, through detailed network planning and optimization. On top of developing fleet management concept with the use of autonomous vehicles and platooning capabilities, RRT also investigates comprehensive, pro-active transport management concepts for the acceleration and prioritization of DART vehicles. This includes a real-time traffic control algorithm at traffic lights, on-demand public transport lanes, termed Virtual Right-of-Way, and the usage of a new innovative pavement concept for efficient and effective pavement maintenance and rehabilitation.  


In Area-Interlinking Design Analysis (AIDA), 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), the area Sensing and Management for Agile Transport (SMAT) provides sensing technologies to enable a “virtual right-of-way” for DART, 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. While RRT considers the overall transport concept and defines the required capacity and operational characteristics of the DART vehicles, 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 suitable vehicle concepts, 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 bus network. Design alternatives for the charging infrastructure in the presence of modular and scalable vehicles are also under investigation.