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MOT's Addendum to President's Address 2020 by Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung

27 Aug 2020 In Parliament

1.     The transport sector plays a vital role in Singapore’s survival and prosperity, as it brings Singaporeans together, Singapore to the world, and the world to Singapore. COVID-19 has inflicted severe damage on the transport sector. The Ministry of Transport (MOT) will work with the industry to tide over the COVID-19 pandemic, revive the Changi air hub, strengthen our status as a global hub port, and deliver sustainable and inclusive land transport for our home of the future. 
 
Securing Singapore’s Connectivity to the World
 
Reviving our Air Hub
 
2.     The Changi air hub anchors Singapore’s place in the world, making us an attractive node for international business, trade, investment, and tourism. This is even though, geographically, we are not a natural air hub. We developed into one through the vision of our founding leaders, and decades of enterprise and hard work of workers in the aviation sector. 
 
3.     However, COVID-19 has decimated air travel and set us back decades. Changi Airport has lost about 50% of its air links and over 95% of scheduled passenger services. We cannot take our hub status for granted and assume that we will remain one when global air travel recovers. 
 
4.     Reviving our air hub in a safe way will be a top and immediate priority for MOT. We have already resumed some transit and transfer services for passengers in a safe way. We will have to take further steps and implement them carefully and progressively, starting with countries or cities which have kept the virus under control, and taking all precautions. 
 
5.     We are helping aviation companies preserve and enhance their core capabilities, and re-skill workers. We are actively contributing to the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) COVID-19 global response and recovery efforts. We will take the opportunity when air traffic volume is down to improve our aviation infrastructure, namely developing a three-runway system. We are reviewing the layout, design, and timeline of Changi Airport Terminal 5 to build a more competitive and resilient terminal for the future.  
 
Strengthening our Maritime Hub
 
6.     While COVID-19 has slowed world trade and disrupted global supply chains, our maritime sector has stayed relatively resilient, and the Port of Singapore continues to serve the trading needs of world markets. We will build on this to further strengthen Singapore’s status as a maritime hub and position our port to seize new opportunities. In the coming years, international division of labour may change, global supply chains may shift, and we need to be nimble to adapt to these trends. 
 
7.     We are investing in the maritime sector. We expect Tuas Port to be completed in the 2040s, as planned. It will be the world’s largest fully automated container terminal, able to serve the world’s largest container ships. We will step up digitalisation to streamline port clearances, enable just-in-time vessel operations at our port, and standardise and enhance flows of vessel data across ports globally. 
 
Building New Land Connections
 
8.     The peoples and economies of Singapore and Malaysia are closely intertwined. The land crossings between us and our closest neighbour have remained open to essential goods and materials throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Both Governments are progressively restarting travel through the reciprocal green lane and periodic commuting arrangement. 
 
9.     Last month, Singapore and Malaysia agreed to resume the Johor Bahru – Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link Project. When service commences in 2026, it will ease Causeway congestion, improve connectivity and deepen people-to-people ties. We are also in discussions with Malaysia on the Kuala Lumpur – Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) Project, which has been suspended at Malaysia’s request until 31 December 2020. Singapore continues to believe that the HSR is a mutually beneficial project for both countries. 
 
Delivering Sustainable and Inclusive Transport for our Future
 
Reliable and Well-Connected Public Transport for All Singaporeans
 
10.    Public transport is key to a greener, fairer, and better Singapore. It emits less carbon dioxide than private transport; it is quieter, safer, and uses less land. Millions of Singaporeans from all walks of life take public transport every day. We will strive to ensure that public transport stays reliable and affordable for all Singaporeans. 
 
11.    We will therefore work towards a sustainable and inclusive land transport system for all Singaporeans, in line with our vision of a 45-Minute City with 20-Minute Towns through walk-cycle-ride journeys by 2040. 
 
12.    Over the last five years, MOT has significantly improved rail and bus services. We have turned the corner on rail reliability, with Mean Kilometres Between Failure of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system increasing from 130,000 train-km to over one million train-km. We will continue to build engineering capabilities and invest resources in maintaining the reliability and standard of our public transport system. 
 
13.    In the coming years, we will open new stations and lines almost every year, starting with the remaining stages of Thomson-East Coast Line, to completing Circle Line, and opening Jurong Region Line and Cross-Island Line. The MRT network will grow from around 230km today to 360km by then. 
 
14.    We will continue to improve public transport to better support the less ambulant, and we have begun mobile application trials to help the visually-impaired. We will work with the Public Transport Council and fellow Singaporeans to build a culture of care, where commuters show concern for, and help, fellow commuters with mobility challenges. 
 
15.    Expanding the public transport system to better serve Singaporeans requires major infrastructure and recurrent expenditure. But this is essential public spending, which has to be carried out with financial prudence. 
 
Towards Cleaner and More Sustainable Transport
 
16.    As transport is part of the sustainable development of Singapore, MOT will work closely with other infrastructure agencies to develop a comprehensive sustainable development plan for Singapore.
 
17.    Improvements to public transport will move us towards a car-lite nation. Our vehicle growth rate is already 0%, and the Government will henceforth purchase only cleaner energy buses. We will further work towards phasing out private vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2040. We will also continue to work on initiatives to promote the adoption of electric vehicles, including efforts to deploy charging infrastructure nationwide. 
 
18.    The lower traffic and new travel patterns brought about by COVID-19 have opened a window of opportunity to re-imagine our road infrastructure. For example, certain under-used road lanes can be converted to cycling and bus lanes. There may be scope to pedestrianise certain roads. We will also follow through on our plan to expand cycling paths from 460km now to around 1,300km by 2030 under the Islandwide Cycling Network. 
 
19.    COVID-19 has brought about changes in habits, such as more telecommuting, meaningfully staggered working hours, and greater use of e-commerce. This has led to more sustainable travel patterns. We will explore ways to make some of these changes permanent. 
 

20.    Internationally, we will play our part to tackle climate change. We have set up an International Advisory Panel on Maritime Decarbonisation to develop strategies for maritime decarbonisation, and started a Maritime GreenFuture Fund to accelerate the development and adoption of low-carbon technologies. We will support the International Maritime Organization’s Strategy on Reduction of Greenhouse Emissions from Ships, and ICAO measures including the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation.