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ICA’s Plans To Address Traffic Congestion and Enhance Traveller Experience At The Land Checkpoints

            The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) adopts a three-pronged approach to alleviate traffic congestion at the land checkpoints:

          1)    Real-time traffic management: ICA’s ground commanders monitor traffic conditions in real-time, aided by the new operation centre, as well as enhanced command and control system and cameras, to dynamically deploy our resources and adjust checkpoint processes to improve clearance time and enhance travellers’ overall experience at Woodlands and Tuas Checkpoints.

          2)    Leveraging technology: Under the New Clearance Concept (NCC), ICA has been adopting innovative solutions to automate immigration clearance for passengers and all modes of transport. The solution leverages technology to automate clearance at the motorcycle lanes and passenger bus halls. ICA is also working towards self-clearance for cars. This increases clearance throughput, reduces reliance on manpower, and allows these lanes to be operated 24/7.

          3)    Redeveloping Woodlands Checkpoint (WCP): The checkpoint will be expanded and extended. This longer-term solution will enable us to increase our clearance capacity and throughput, enabling us to reduce travel time from 60 to 15 minutes during peak periods. The redeveloped WCP will be operationalised from 2028 onwards.

2.          In view of increasing traveller volume and the reality of manpower constraints, ICA’s three-pronged approach provides a more sustainable solution towards the management of the land crossing congestion while maintaining Singapore’s border security.

Real-time Traffic Management Strategies 

  • New Integrated Operations Centre: Since February 2022, both land checkpoints have been equipped with a new command and control system equipped with enhanced tactical, sense-making and decision support tools. Ground commanders have a better appreciation of the situation and are equipped to make tactical decisions in a timely manner, when managing daily traffic operations and security incidents. The improved sense-making capability allows them to deploy officers dynamically to areas which require more support.
  • ICA regularly adjusts our clearance lanes to clear different modes of conveyances depending on the traffic situation. During the morning and evening peak periods, we convert our car zones to clear motorcycles. This mitigates the risk of the motorcycle queues ballooning along the Causeway/Second Link and BKE/AYE and blocking other modes of conveyances from entering the checkpoints. Similarly, we can also convert departure/arrival lorry zones to increase the overall clearance capacity for cars.
  • ICA works closely with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and cross-border bus service providers to schedule more buses to cope with the build-up of travellers at the bus boarding bays. We also work with the Traffic Police and LTA to ensure lane discipline and minimise disruption to vehicular flows in the event of road traffic accident.

Leveraging Technology

Enhancing Traveller Clearance Experience at the Bus Halls/Bus Boarding Bays

3.          Due to its close proximity to Johor Bahru, WCP is the preferred land gateway for travellers. Every day, approximately 242,000 travellers pass through Woodlands Checkpoint. Among them, close to 100,000 are bus travellers, and the majority are Malaysian workers, constituting approximately 40 per cent of the total volume cleared at WCP.

4.          Since 2020, we have implemented various initiatives at the bus halls of our checkpoints to speed up the clearance process and facilitate the movement of travellers through our checkpoints. As a result, automated immigration clearance is the default at our passenger halls today, enabling ICA to deploy more officers to support zones that require more support.

5.          Automated clearance has increased the clearance throughput by over 20 per cent during departure peak periods. Today, during the evening departure peak period (5pm to 8pm), we can clear an additional of 1,000 travellers per hour, compared to pre-COVID in 2019.

  • In 2020, 10 bi-directional automated lanes were installed at the flexi-bus hall of WCP to replace eight manual counters. These bi-directional automated lanes give the ground commanders flexibility to adjust the clearance mode depending on the traffic situation.
  • In February 2022, 18 more bi-directional automated lanes were installed at the arrival and departure bus halls of WCP. Similarly, 46 automated lanes were installed at Tuas Checkpoint (TCP). 
  • In January 2023, the Automated Clearance Initiative was extended to the land checkpoints which allows passport holders from 51 jurisdictions including Malaysians to use our automated lanes, even if it is their first-time visiting Singapore. There is no need for prior or separate enrolment as it is done seamlessly and simultaneously when travellers present themselves at the automated lanes.

Increasing Frequencies of Bus Services at the Bus Boarding Bays at WCP

6.          With an increase in clearance throughput at the bus hall, more travellers are joining the queues for buses. To ensure the safety of travellers and minimise the waiting time, we have worked with our partners to implement the following:

  • Loop system for Causeway Link (CW) buses: CW buses from Bangunan Sultan Iskandar (BSI) will alight arriving passengers at WCP before being guided by ICA officers to U-turn within the checkpoint compound without the need for the bus drivers to clear immigration. Subsequently, they will pick up passengers departing WCP to BSI. Similarly, CW buses arriving at WCP from Singapore will alight passengers departing to BSI before being U-turned to pick passengers arriving from BSI.
  • Dedicated immigration clearance lane for departing public buses: This prevents departing public buses from being blocked by privately-owned buses/coaches when passing through WCP.  
  • Increasing frequency for public buses: During the peak periods, ICA works with LTA to increase the frequency of public bus services, when necessary

Upcoming initiatives in 2024 for bus hall

7.          Under our NCC, clearance efficiency at the bus halls is set to improve even further when we enhance our lanes with the Next Generation Automated Border Clearance System. Progressively from 2024, Singaporeans and departing visitors can expect immigration clearance times to be faster as they no longer need to present their passports for immigration clearance. Instead, their identity will be verified through biometrics and they will be able to proceed on their journey. 

Automating Car Clearance

8.          For cars, ICA will progressively implement automated clearance for cars (APICS) from next year. This will significantly increase the efficiency of clearance for cars and help to reduce waiting time. When fully implemented, car travellers will be able to perform self-clearance in the comfort of their vehicle, with minimum intervention by officers.

9.          In early-2024, we will introduce QR code scanning in lieu of passport scanning for immigration clearance at manual car counters.

  • Before starting their journey, travellers create a profile and generate an individual or group QR code via the MyICA mobile app, using details retrieved from their Singpass or the machine-readable zone of their passport.

  • On arrival at the checkpoint, they can self-scan the QR code at the car counter, and do not need to present their passports to the ICA officer. The officer will then conduct facial image checks of the travellers, using the data retrieved through the QR code. This will allow group clearances to be completed much more quickly, and reduce the overall time taken to clear immigration.
  • The created profile can be saved for future trips; the travellers need not key in the details again. Family members travelling together, for example, will not need to re-generate the information for subsequent trips, unless there are updates to their passport details.

10.          From 2026 onwards, APICS lanes will be introduced at Tuas Checkpoint. Travellers will self-scan the QR code generated from their MyICA mobile app, and present their biometrics for verification, via contactless biometric scanners. This will remove the need to station an officer at every car lane, reducing the reliance on manpower. From 2028 onwards, APICS lanes will be introduced at the redeveloped Woodlands Checkpoint.

Redevelopment of WCP

11.          ICA has projected that the traffic volume at WCP will increase by close to 40 per cent by 2050. To future proof WCP for this projected increase in traffic volume, ICA will be redeveloping WCP in phases to enhance clearance for all types of vehicular traffic and incorporate greater automation and flexi-lanes that can be toggled to either clear cars or motorcycles. This will reduce travel time significantly from 60 minutes to 15 minutes during peak periods.

27 MAY 2023