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Demystifying the Great CTE Jam

By Blogger on 10 Jan 2011

Attached Image: 1291347018.jpg

Amongst all the congestion on our roads, one particular expressway stands out for being more congested for far longer hours than any other road. Every driver knows that the CTE is notorious for its jams that can last way past 8pm. And despite whatever measures taken, like increasing ERP or undertaking road widening, the CTE remains pretty much a misnomer of an expressway. That is, an expressway with non-express speeds.

Ask around and there will be many theories proffered by different road users to explain the great CTE congestion.

One popular theory (especially among my biker friends) is that the jams are caused by CTE's numerous inclines. And Singaporean drivers, being frugal with their fuel, do not accelerate more upon coming to an upslope. What happens is a "wave effect"; where you see a clustering of vehicles slowing down on the upslope and a gradual spacing out of cars on the downslope. This slowing down effect is compounded over the number of vehicles and hills such that eventually, some drivers have to tap on their brakes to avoid rear ending the car in front. This further compounds the effect and eventually creates jams when there are sufficient number of vehicles.

A slightly less complicated theory derives from the fact that CTE serves a particularly populous part of Singapore - Ang Mo Kio. Add the fact that the population density is high (substantial HDB estates as opposed to landed housing) and tends to be doing decently well (HDB prices are generally higher in Ang Mo Kio) and you have a huge pool of car owners who need to use the CTE. The sheer numbers of drivers cause the congestion.

The final theory I have come across attributes the congestion on CTE to its expressway design. Advocates of this theory will point out that in certain stretches of the CTE where jams are the worst, there are just too many entrances and exits in quick succession. As vehicles switch lanes to exit or enter the expressway, they have to brake or will cause others to brake or slow down. This disturbs the smooth flow of traffic and causes congestion. This is compounded by the fact that there are quite a few entrances or exits that coincide on the expressway - meaning that vehicles enter onto the expressway in a lane shared by those trying to exit the expressway. This makes entering or exiting the expressway more difficult and aggravates the disruption effect of vehicles entering or exiting the expressway.

My personal take is that I favour the last theory. This is based on my personal observations of how traffic flows on the CTE as well as the fact that AYE is also the most congested at the stretch where there are 3 exits in quick succession (Clementi Ave 6, Ave 2 & Clementi Road).

What is your theory on the CTE jam?

motoring, singapore, congestion and 3 more...

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  • 1
Ryanyusoff Jan 10 2011 11:23 AM
poor design of the closeness of entrances and exits..it exists in all 'expressways' here. Look at PIE with the 'CTE,Serangoon,KPE' area..
Unfair Jan 10 2011 12:37 PM
I see goods vehicles and bus hogging 4/5 lanes in your picture.
Ilmw Jan 10 2011 01:03 PM
side note: ask your biker friends why they prefer to lane split between lane 1 & 2, instead of between eg, lane 2 & 3?

Bikers overtake other bikers too, so when they do this at between lane 1 & 2, they overtake on right and go onto lane 1.

Lane 1 is the fastest lane, this is not particularly safe.

note also that lane splitting is not legal in most parts of the world.
Quirky Jan 10 2011 01:54 PM
I use the CTE every day. It's most likely the last reason - CTE entries coming before CTE exits, and both sets of vehicles having to share the same lane.

The slopes are another reason.

Usually, the jams towards city will clear up after the entry from Moulmein.
Mattjoe Jan 10 2011 06:44 PM
Most unreasonable drivers refusing to give way even with signals, as compared to other expressways. Also, unreasonable drivers who go from lane 1 to exit last minute and slow down while obstructing traffic.

Good-Carbuyer Jan 10 2011 06:50 PM
CTE like others, was designed as the minor road over crossing the other roads along its length.
All the three theories mentioned eliminated had CTE been designed as the major road instead.
The designers were either non-end-users/drivers, or under instructions from such people/supervisors. Hence the design produced.
NightWind Jan 13 2011 03:39 AM
The CTE leaving the city after Moulmein has two ERP gantries that are within 800m of each other and both are on at night and one is on till 10.30pm.....what a scam
  • 1
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