Back to top

Oral Reply by Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan to Parliamentary Question on SecureMyBike Project at Admiralty MRT and Future Walk, Cycle and Ride (WCR) Infrastructure Improvements

04 Feb 2020 In Parliament

Assoc Prof Walter Theseira asked the Minister for Transport

a.     what are the studies, projections, or cost-benefit analyses that supported development of the $4.7 million SecureMyBike project at Admiralty MRT that has been discontinued due to lack of demand; and

b.     how does the Ministry plan to ensure future walk, cycle and ride (WCR) infrastructure improvements are cost effective.

Reply by Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan:

1.     The SecureMyBike project is not part of the Admiralty MRT station.  It is part of the Kampung Admiralty development, a greenfield HDB project which I initiated in 2012 when I was in MND.  The project site was a vacant plot of 9,800 m2, next to Admiralty MRT station where HDB had planned to build 2-room studio apartments for seniors. We decided to intensify  the land use to meet the diverse needs of the potential residential and commercial tenants. 

2.     I appointed a committee and while the primary objective was to build studio apartments for the seniors, I advised the committee to identify the daily needs of the seniors, beyond mere accommodation, so that they could access such needs easily and with little hassle.  I envisaged Kampung Admiralty to be a mixed precinct that our seniors would find highly liveable and where neighbours look out for one another, with good old kampung spirit.  We named the project “Kampung Admiralty”, to help focus the planning.

3.     The committee surveyed the needs of the residents in the precinct, and sought the views of the many commuters who regularly used Admiralty MRT station. Over several months, they conducted extensive public consultations and organised many focus group discussions with the potential users of this project. Out of a long wish list, the committee finally decided on a range of services to be provided.  This included a hawker centre, an outpatient medical cum day surgery centre, a childcare centre, an elderly day care centre, some commercial spaces for shops and restaurants.  All these were built in addition to the studio apartments for the elderly as per the original intent of this project.  We also made generous provisions for greenery and public spaces to support community gardening, so that the elderly residents living there could live an active lifestyle.

4.     We also wanted to make this precinct user-friendly for the many residents who cycle to Admiralty MRT station. There were many surface bicycle parking lots at Admiralty MRT station, but these were not enough during peak hours. The shortage was serious back then, with indiscriminately parked bicycles cluttering the parking area and posing safety concerns.  The committee did several counts of the parked bicycles there.  They projected substantial, long term demand for over 500 cycling lots in the vicinity of Admiralty MRT station and proposed to meet the demand as part of the Kampung Admiralty project. We had to choose between surface parking and underground parking. Surface parking was cheaper to build, but underground parking would free up valuable surface space for other uses. This is an important consideration in land-scarce Singapore.

5.     As Japan faces similar land constraints, the committee studied their experience with bicycle parking and became aware of the extensive underground bicycle parking facilities in their cities.  LTA made study visits to Japan to find out more. I visited similar facilities in in Tokyo when I happened to be there on an official visit. Each facility stored up to 200 bicycles, and charged users up to S$35 a month for usage of bicycle parking services. My impression was that the Japanese were satisfied with their paid underground facilities.

6.     After much deliberation, the committee decided to experiment with underground bicycle parking in Kampung Admiralty, to see if this model could be financially viable in Singapore. HDB called an open tender for the construction of Kampung Admiralty in 2014 and received 6 competitive bids.  HDB eventually awarded the contract to Lum Chang Building Contractors, which subcontracted the construction, maintenance and operation of the bicycle parking system to a Spanish company, which met the relevant requirements. Implementation was uneventful. 

7.     The Kampung Admiralty project was completed in 2017.  The final plot ratio is 3.6 in line with our intent to intensify land use.  We set aside 198 m2 for underground bicycle lots, adjacent to the much larger basement car park of about 12400 m2.

8.     While Kampung Admiralty was being built, the shared dockless bicycle phenomenon popped up in Singapore! We were surprised by the rapid public acceptance and growth of shared bicycles, which led to many problems.  By then, I had moved to MOT and had to deal with it, including imposing regulatory controls on the operators. But just as we managed down the shared bicycle numbers, PMDs came along. The new devices had many advantages and took off quickly, creating new problems which we are now actively dealing with.  Both shared bicycles and PMDs have dramatically shifted the usage and parking patterns of privately owned bicycles. This fundamentally altered the economics of paid underground bicycle parking. As the fees collected could not cover the operating cost, LTA decided to end the trial on 28 December 2019.

9.     Overall, the Kampung Admiralty has been a highly successful project, although the outcome for underground parking for bicycles has turned out to be disappointing.  The underground space of 198 m2 for bicycle parking remains, and can be re-purposed.  We are keeping the options open, as the current situation is still changing.  As the number of PMDs comes down, the usage of shared bikes and privately owned bicycles may well rise again.  I would not be surprised that similar high intensity underground bicycle parking systems may be needed in Singapore, perhaps even at Kampung Admiralty, in the future!