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Speech by Mr Lui Tuck Yew at Visit to Lakeside MRT Station on 24 January 2013

24 Jan 2013 Speeches

My fellow MPs,
Grassroots Leaders from Jurong GRC and Yuhua SMC,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning.
1.     Last week, I announced plans to expand our rail network, as part of the first thrust of our Land Transport Masterplan (LTMP) 2013. Today, I want to share with you our plans on a second thrust of LTMP 2013, An Inclusive and Liveable Community.
Inclusive and Liveable Community
2.     Public transportation plays a crucial role in improving the liveability of our environment. Many of the liveable cities in the world you can think of London, New York, Zurich, Copenhagen place great emphasis on an extensive, high quality public transport system, that connects people to jobs, schools and amenities in an efficient, reliable and pleasant way. A good public transport system should also cater to the needs of every resident, recognising that there are diverse travelling needs within different segments of society, for example, the elderly, the less mobile and also families with young children. Public transport should also enhance and complement the quality of our living environment.
3.     In the course of gathering feedback on the LTMP, we received many good suggestions from many people from all walks of life on these issues of inclusiveness and liveability.
Barrier-Free Accessibility
4.     First, I would like to update you on our progress in making our public transport system accessible to all commuters. We have made good progress in improving barrier-free accessibility. All of our MRT and LRT stations today have at least one barrier-free route to the platform. When the upgrading works at Toa Payoh Bus Interchange are completed by the middle of this year, all our existing bus interchanges will also be barrier-free. In 2011, we had also announced that we would install lifts at six pedestrian overhead bridges next to MRT stations to improve accessibility. Works are ongoing and we expect these lifts to be progressively completed by the end of this year.
Lifts at More Pedestrian Overhead Bridges (POBs)
5.     Going forward, I am pleased to share that we will significantly expand the programme to install lifts at pedestrian overhead bridges to another 40 additional overhead bridges. These shortlisted bridges are near to major transport nodes, have high levels of pedestrian usage, and are near key amenities, such as healthcare institutions frequently accessed by the less mobile.
6.     The lifts will be progressively installed over the next five years, and are expected to cost a total of about $60 million. By the end of this project, most overhead bridges near MRT stations and integrated transport hubs will be barrier-free. Works are expected to start by 2014, with about 20 bridges to be fitted with lifts by 2016 and the remainder by 2018. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will announce the locations of the bridges after technical feasibility studies are completed in 2014.
Improving First and Last Mile Connectivity
7.     Next, we will improve the first and last mile experience for commuters. A key feedback from our LTMP focus group discussions was that more people would take public transport if we improve the walking experience between their homes and the MRT station or bus stop. Many told us that while our public transport system is well-connected, the walking experience was uncomfortable and inconvenient, given our tropical climate and sometimes unpredictable weather.
8.     Today, we will be launching a new Walk2Ride programme that will significantly expand the coverage of the sheltered linkway network. The linkways will connect schools, health care facilities, public amenities, offices and residential developments within a 400-metre radius of all MRT stations. LTA will also link up developments within a 200-metre radius of all bus interchanges, LRT stations, and high usage bus shelters. This is a significant expansion of our current plans, which only provide sheltered linkways from MRT stations and bus stops to schools and healthcare facilities within 200 metres. When this new programme is completed, a young family with a baby in a stroller, staying across the road from where we are now in Block 515, will be able to walk in sheltered comfort, rain or shine, all the way along Jurong West Street 52, Street 51, and Boon Lay Way, before taking a lift up the overhead bridge to cross the road and reach Lakeside MRT station.
9.     This new Walk2Ride programme will cost about $330 million over five years. A total of more than 200 kilometres of sheltered linkways will be constructed, more than four times the existing 46 kilometres today.
Supporting a More Sustainable Living Environment
Implementing Noise Barriers
10.   As we continue to build up our public transport infrastructure within the confines of Singapore's limited land space, we must manage the externalities carefully so that our living environment is enhanced, and not compromised. One such externality is noise from our railways and roads.
11.   Residents staying near elevated MRT tracks, particularly those living near where train tracks merge or diverge, have given LTA feedback over high levels of railway noise. LTA recently concluded a noise measurement study and identified locations along the elevated stretches of our rail network where noise levels exceed the guidelines set by the National Environment Agency (NEA).
12.   Based on the findings, LTA expects that we will need quite extensive noise barriers along elevated railway tracks to help bring down noise levels at the various noise hotspots. Assuming current technology, some 20 kilometres of noise barriers may be needed, although we will continue to explore alternative noise mitigation measures as we implement this programme. The programme will be conducted in phases, starting towards the end of this year and completing by 2020. It has a budget of close to $300 million. Residents living close to MRT viaducts, such as those in Simei, Marsiling and Dover, can expect noise levels to be perceptibly reduced by about five to 10 decibels.
13.   We will give more details on the noise barrier implementation plan in due course, as we have to closely coordinate their installation with other MRT upgrading projects, such as the ongoing replacement of sleepers and the upcoming re-signalling project. At the same time, we will continue to work with SMRT to further tighten their train maintenance regime to minimise the generation of railway noise.
14.   Besides railway noise, we are also actively looking at how we can reduce road traffic noise. A study with the relevant agencies is currently ongoing to identify suitable mitigating measures. A trial to install noise barriers at selected stretches of road viaducts is also underway to assess their effectiveness. We will update further once the trial is completed.
15.   These three announcements on the Walk2Ride programme, the installation of more lifts at pedestrian overhead bridges, and implementing noise barriers on our MRT tracks, together will cost close to $700 million. They are just some of the key initiatives that we plan to roll out over the next few years to improve our living environment, and enhance our quality of life, and core to the goal of the Land Transport Masterplan 2013, which is to build a people-centred land transport system that supports an inclusive and liveable community.
16.   Thank you.