23 June 2008

Orchard Road: boom, bust, stuck and shut

There is a lot of construction activity along Orchard Road, our main shopping street. We're good at building huge new shopping malls, but creating a premier shopping district takes much more than that. We're not so good at tackling the other issues. Full essay.


Anonymous said...

Instead of a monorail, maybe a walkalator on a flyover running along the middle of the road might do the trick, making the whole road itself into a long mall. Pedestrians get off at the mall they want to visit, and access through covered bridge links from the walkalator flyover into the mall. An underground tunnel for auto traffic with ramps into the parking lots for the shopping complexes would probably be too expensive, but just may be the only way to achieve better traffic flow along the road.

Kayangmo said...

I certainly support the monorail thing, but we also have an MRT thing too. (plus 1 pt)

Extending the opening hours of shops seem cruel and short-term, given that manning of the shops require people. People also deserve a LIFE. Who will stay at the shop from 9pm til 12am, when the chance of a shopper is very low during this timing? (minus 1 pt for this point)

World class public transport is not about LONG hours till way past midnight. There are taxis for such people. World Class transport means punctual and reliable bus services. Clean and uncrowded. It also means well-lit roads and less-congested networks. (minus 1 pt for mentioning this)

Thanks for the blog, keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Let's see what kind of bright solutions can our world class ministers come up with. I won't bet on it.

Rush said...

I doubt a monorail system would work, simply because it isn't economically viable.

A less costly option would probably be an escalator/travelator system similar to Hong Kong's mid-levels, but this might not be feasible as well because of the less compact nature of Orchard Road as compared to Central.

Chris said...

One word: tramline. Down the centre (if I remember rightly, there's a median strip which could be modified to provide alighting points--if I'm wrong, then you create ones at suitable intervals). Stops at crosswalks.

Singapore could get antique trams, put 'em on the line, and sell it to tourists as a die die must try tourist attraction. SF did it with the line that runs down the centre of Market Street; they run antique trams, one of which looks like a boat (no foolin'!). Everyone who visits must use the things at least once.

Chee Wai Lee said...

Where late night food is concerned, I have had a similar experience at Orchard Rd with my friend from India. It was not as late (I think it was 9:30pm) but like yourself, nothing was open except hotel restaurants which we eventually patronized (hehe, we got the "local treatment", which I warned my friend about - he is south indian).

Kinda surprised me, since I was used to late-night food outlets around most of Singapore. I certainly did not expect Orchard to be the exception to the "norm".

Oh, and my friend was not keen to take a longer journey (else I would have suggested Lau Pa Sah) cos he was starting to feel hungry and tired by that time.

Anonymous said...

the underground pedestrian passages, one from Lido to Takashimaya, one from Raffles City to Suntec, shelter people from traffic and weather; they ought to be extended


Anonymous said...

The suggestion to switch the bus lane to the left hand side of Orchard Road has been considered by various traffic engineers and consultants over the last 10 years. The implementation of this suggestion would firstly incurr a huge amount of both financial and land resources. (1)Because of the position of doors of our buses, when we have a bus stop which is located on the opposite side of the doors, we would require additional holding space for commuters to load and unload from the buses. The additional land space occupied by both the bus shelters and holding space would result in the reduction of at least 2 existing traffic lanes along Orchard Road thereby affecting the capacity of Orchard Road. (2)The costs of constructing all new bus shelters along the entire stretch of Orchard Road and corresponding holding areas are very high. The high cost may not even result in the percieved benefits.

Secondly, the suggestion to switch the bus lane to the right hand side would create similar conflicts at the junctions of Orchard Link, Grange Raod, Killiney Road and perhaps Penang Lane. These are all the side roads located along the right hand side of Orchard Road. The conflicts of traffic movements along a major road and its side road are common phenomenon whenever there are high volume of buses and turning vehicles. One good (or bad?) example is at Eu Tong Sen Street and Park Crescent (just before People's Park Complex). However, the present T-junction along Orchard Road which is creating a serious problem is the one at Bideford Road. Over the years, numerous recommendations have been put forward and considered. These include closing the T-junction; providing an underpass for pedestrians to cross Bideford Road; reducing the road width of Bideford Road so as to reduce the time for pedestrians crossing Bideford Road (this would cut down waiting time for traffic trying to turn left into Bideford Road); and Dispersing pedestrains to the opposite side of Orchard Road so as to reduce the number of pedestrains crossing Bideford Road etc. However, all these measures have their limitations.

Clsoing Bideford Road or reversing the traffic flow for Bideford Road is a no-no because it serves as a major link between the Orchard corridor and CTE.

Ex-traffic Engineer

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Dear Ex-traffic engineer

Your analysis is correct about similar problems occurring if the bus lane is relocated to the right hand side, except that in my view, there are fewer car-park entry points on the right side than on the left side. So there will be some improvement.

I realise that having buses on the right side would entail closing off an extra lane to build alighting islands.

However, you seem to assume that Orchard Road must carry the same amount of traffic that it presently does. I'm saying it cannot. I think it should carry only 2/3 its present traffic load; that's why I propose to get people to park outside Orchard Road and take a monorail/travellator into the area. It improves the liveability of the area too, which is becoming like a shopping district next to an expresway - how pleasant is that?

Also, as someone here suggested, the monorial/travellator can deliver people directly to the upper floors of the huge new buildings, relieving congestion on ground level, which is getting worse (example: outside Centrepoint/Lucky Plaza).

Anonymous said...

>position of doors of our buses

that's not a problem; orchard MRT station, on the Orchard Boulevard side, has bus stops on the right, with passangers getting on and off from a small traffic island


KiWeTO said...

The problem is NOT with the traffic flow. Its with the lack of carpark space, and the fact that people AND Taxis queue on the road waiting (FOR SOMEONE TO LEAVE) before they can enter the carpark.


Carpark queues at:
Ngee Ann City

Taxi Queues at:

The traffic flow is smooth, if all those queues are taken away.

How to accomplish that?

Traffic wardens posted at those positions or even traffic police, to wave off the cars that are blocking traffic, else they will receive a ticket at their registered addresses.

Post these traffic flow wardens/cops for 4-6 hours every weekend day from 1-8 and you'll see the majority of the traffic flow problem in Orchard Road clear-up.

It however, will not solve the outlying suburb with car problem - if you live in Sengkang and have a weekend car - you're so much likelier to drive it down to orchard road on weekends, whatever the ERP charge is, because, there isn't anywhere else to feel happy about being a car owner about.

[ps, I have a paid parking space in Orchard Road, and I drive in everyday to do deliveries]

Chris said...

Monorails are notoriously difficult to construct, operate, and repair when they break down, which is often. A surface tram line is much easier to operate and repair. I would not try a monorail unless some oil magnate had a couple of billion dollars that he wanted to dispose of neatly.

MonicPRT said...

Monorail is costly to build and may not necessary solve the problem. Also URA would not be pleased to have huge beam and stations above the city core area.

Tram will take up road space. It is just like bus except a road space is dedicated for it uses.

Walkalator's speed is too slow.

Let's look at automated car-size people and goods mover system which requires a slim elevated driveway and easily blended to the side of the buildings. It requires a small space for boarding/alighting. It is easier and cheaper to build. It operates like a lateral lift, can stop at any building akin to the vertical lift stopping at any floor, on-demand and operate round the clock.

This kind of system, PRT, is already designed for Masdar Eco-city in Abu Dhabi. It can be locally designed and built. The PRT sysatem can also improve the overall transportation for the city.

nhyone said...

I thought I added a comment, but it looks like I didn't do it correctly.

I can think of two suggestions.

First, all walkways should be built on the third level. Ground level should be for traffic only.

Second, there should be a dedicated lane for the cars to turn out of. Roads in Singapore jam easily due to the numerous side roads. It doesn't just happen downtown.

This lane is for exit only. Entries should be made by another dedicated lane behind the buildings.

Anonymous said...

What if the flow of traffic along orchard road is reversed.

Anonymous said...

The underground walkways are too crowded. The street is too crowded with cars, and the MRT is too crowded with people. These problems exist because of poor governance.

With billions of dollars in reserves, Singapore can afford to build underground lanes for cars, to add carparks, to build more walkways for pedestrians. Or, it can do something else with the money. Like giving ministers another round of salary increments.

Anonymous said...

>underground lanes for cars

LKY said they would do this many years ago, after CTE tunnel was done, but this is useful for bypassing orchard road not for going to orchard road; if you are going shopping/eating, you need to come up to the street at many points and such access ramps would take up a lot of space too, which brings us to

>to add carparks,

if you build underground parking, then the underground roads lead to them without having to come up to street level; probably very expensive though

> build more walkways for pedestrians. Or, it can do something else with the money. Like giving ministers another round of salary increments.

I am sure that has occurred to them too, without you suggesting...


tornadoM said...

i don't think there's a dearth of eating places at night near the orchard road or esplanade area, but you probably can't get restaurants.

perhaps cafes and less upscale eateries. i wouldn't say that having to eat at coffeeshops makes us backward ...

1) xin wang cafe (my personal favourite) at orchard cineleisure opens till 2am/3am on weekdays, 24hrs on fri, sat, ph
2)the coffee connoisseur aka TCC at clarke quay opens till 12mn on weekdays, later on weekends.

Anonymous said...

i think there are some coffee shops...hawker center near esplande.. its just at the back of esplande, along the way to Sg Flyers. And Kopithiam along the way to Plaza Sg. Hmm but restaurant.. hmm not i can think of.. hahaha...