Back to top

Speech by Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health, Dr Lam Pin Min, at the Ministry of Transport’s Committee of Supply Debate 2018

07 Mar 2018 Speeches

1.     Mr Chairman, Maritime Singapore is a thriving eco-system, anchored on our global hub port and vibrant International Maritime Centre (IMC). Overall, the maritime sector remains a strong pillar of Singapore’s economic growth, contributing about 7% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and more than 170,000 jobs in over 5,000 maritime establishments.

2.     Let me now provide an update on the performance of Singapore’s maritime hub and our efforts to ensure its continued competitiveness.

Maritime Singapore Experienced Strong Recovery in 2017

3.     Singapore’s port registered a strong performance in 2017. Our container throughput rose significantly by 8.9% to 33.7 million TEUs. We also handled a record total of 626.2 million tonnes of cargoes, an increase of 5.5% over the previous year.

4.     Our IMC also performed well, and was ranked the world’s top international shipping centre by Baltic-Xinhua for the fourth consecutive time. We welcomed new players such as Ocean Network Express, which will set up its global headquarters in Singapore this April. Existing players like Maersk, CMA CGM and Thome also expanded their presence in Singapore with the establishment of their new vessel monitoring hubs.

Seizing New Growth Opportunities to Stay Ahead

5.     We have done well. However, we are mindful that the sector’s landscape is evolving rapidly and remains challenging. Digitalisation is already transforming global transportation and supply chains, blurring the boundaries between the shipping and logistics sectors. Emerging technologies like blockchain are paving the way for new business models, forcing companies to rethink the way they do business or risk being disintermediated altogether.

6.     The external environment is also changing. Faced with structural problems like slowing trade growth and shipping overcapacity, the outlook for the global maritime sector remains uncertain. And as Mr Ang Wei Neng noted, several developments have sparked talk about the emergence of alternative trade routes in the region. China is investing in ports and transport infrastructure across Southeast Asia under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). These include several ports and the East Coast Rail Line in Malaysia. Interest in the Kra Canal has also recently surfaced, but it remains uncertain whether it will be built. We will continue to monitor these developments.

7.     As the region develops, it is inevitable that our port will face greater competition from alternative ports and trade routes. Thus, while we are well-placed, we cannot be complacent. The only way for us to stay ahead is to continue to innovate, and look for new growth opportunities. For instance, with our strong connectivity, we are in a good position to contribute to and pursue opportunities under the BRI. In the longer term, the growth in trade and networks in the region will also benefit Singapore.

8.     To build on our strengths to meet new challenges, we have set out new growth strategies for Singapore’s maritime sector, which are in line with the IMC 2030 Advisory Committee’s recommendations to grow Singapore as a “Global Maritime Hub for Connectivity, Innovation and Talent”. These strategies will prepare our companies and workers for the future. Let me speak about each of them in turn.

Strengthening Connectivity and Inter-Linkages

9.     First, we will continue to enhance Singapore’s connectivity. This will enable us to remain plugged into the regional and global economy, and continue to be relevant as a hub for maritime activity and businesses.

Physical Connectivity

10.    To boost our physical connectivity, we are investing in the long-term port capacity and infrastructure to meet the industry’s needs. Pasir Panjang Terminal Phases 3 and 4 will be fully operational by the end of this month. Significant investments, such as in the Next Generation Tuas Port, will ensure that Singapore retains its leading position as a global hub port. Reclamation works for the first phase of Tuas Terminal are progressing well. As of last month, more than 70% of the 200 plus caissons have been installed, and the remainder will be completed by early next year.

11.    We will also strengthen our connections to the region, to enhance Singapore’s position as a key node in the region’s maritime network. I spoke about how we can pursue opportunities under China’s BRI. Under the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, which is the third G-2-G project between Singapore and China, we have developed the Southern Transport Corridor (STC) – the maritime route linking China’s overland Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road. This will strengthen our position as China’s gateway to Southeast Asia, and create new opportunities for our local companies to venture overseas. We are working on enhancing and growing the STC.

12.    In fact, many of our companies are already participating in the BRI. To tap on growing trade from Western China, PSA operates many ports along the BRI including Qinzhou in the Guangxi-Beibu Gulf, which provides direct access by rail to Chongqing, a gateway to China’s vast inland area. Local shipping line, Pacific International Lines has similarly invested in logistics facilities in the region, and runs shipping routes between the Guangxi-Beibu Gulf and Singapore. Back home, PSA has also entered into a joint venture with COSCO Shipping to operate three berths at Pasir Panjang Terminal, which will help bring trade volumes through Singapore.

Non-Physical Connectivity and Inter-Linkages

13.    Building up our physical connectivity alone is not enough. We must also build a more inter-connected and vibrant network, to be a node for maritime business activities and information flows.

14.    Today, Singapore’s IMC is home to over 5,000 establishments and offers a comprehensive range of maritime services. Looking ahead, we will continue to grow the diversity of our services. Besides encouraging established companies to venture into new business activities, we will catalyse the growth of non-traditional players. These include maritime technology enterprises such as Alpha Ori and Metcore, and digital platforms like VesselsValue. To facilitate expertise and resource sharing between companies in the sector, MPA will also co-fund the cost of shared work spaces and services.

15.    In the longer term, we will explore setting up a port and logistics cluster at Tuas to encourage collaboration and co-innovation with related sectors. This will open up new growth areas for our companies, and enable us to leverage Singapore’s hub connectivity to enhance our value-capture. For example, co-locating logistics firms near the port could spur more efficient supply chain management and allow them to experiment with fresh concepts such as inter-modal logistics.

Building a Vibrant Innovation Ecosystem

16.    Second, we will create a vibrant and innovative maritime sector to help drive industry transformation. Singapore’s maritime sector is already on the steady pathway of innovation and experimentation. But more needs to be done.

17.    Mr Lee Yi Shyan asked about our plans to champion R&D in transport technology. We will continue to provide an enabling environment for innovation to facilitate the development of smarter solutions. MPA’s Living Lab, which was set up last year, aggregates lead user demand and allows for the test-bedding of technologies in real operational conditions. Several projects have been initiated. These include the development of a remote assisted pilotage system for harbour pilots to steer vessels from shore, and the testing of vessel traffic management solutions.

18.    To spur the development of more of such solutions, MPA will set up the new Singapore Maritime Data Hub (SG-MDH). For a start, the SG-MDH will make available to the industry and the public real-time access to MPA’s port and ship-related data. Over time, other kinds of industry data will also be shared. With this rich information resource, anyone will be able to analyse or even overlay the data with their own data sets, opening up possibilities for the development of new applications, services and products.

19.    At the same time, the new Maritime Transformation Programme (MTP), which was announced by the Minister for Finance during his Budget Statement this year, will further strengthen research and innovation efforts in the sector. Supported by the National Research Foundation and MPA, the MTP will co-fund, with matching investments from industry players, the development of technologies with high potential for industry application. With its focus on automating and digitalising port and shipping operations, and enhancing maritime safety and security, the MTP will be pivotal in driving industry transformation – making our port smarter and safer, and our international maritime centre more competitive.

20.    To ensure that our companies and workers benefit from the sector’s transformation, we will grow and build the capabilities of local enterprises. Take for example Xjera Labs, a local start-up that has ridden on the digitalisation wave to design AI-based solutions for the sector. With funding support from MPA, they worked with Jurong Port to develop a proof-of-concept that uses video analytics to automatically track container vehicles at the port. With this system, Jurong Port will be able to streamline security checks and improve operational efficiency, resulting in manpower savings of about 15%.

21.    To give more start-ups like Xjera Labs a helping hand, MPA will launch the Maritime Technology Acceleration Programme (MTAP) to help start-ups translate their ideas into marketable solutions. Under the MTAP, promising start-ups and entrepreneurs will receive tailored mentorship from industry partners, and networking opportunities with potential investors.

22.    The Government will do its part as a convenor, demand aggregator and facilitator to help catalyse innovation. But ultimately, companies must take ownership in rethinking their operations to pursue higher productivity and new opportunities. We therefore encourage more companies to come on board MPA’s schemes and projects under the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM).

Developing a Future-Ready and Skilled Maritime Workforce

23.    Last but not least, a skilled maritime workforce is critical to meet the needs of the industry and set us apart from our competitors. Through our Sea Transport ITM efforts, more than 5,000 new jobs will be created in the sector by 2025, the majority of which will be PMET jobs. To equip Singaporeans with the necessary skills and experience to take up these good jobs, we will introduce new and enhanced training programmes.

24.    For those who aspire to join the sector, MPA’s Global Internship Award (GIA) offers students the opportunity to intern with international maritime companies in Singapore and overseas. For example, the GIA was vital in helping Ms Melisa Yeo decide on embarking on a career in the maritime sector. In 2015, she completed a 10-week internship at shipping company Oldendorff, including a two-week stint in Lubeck, Germany. Melisa enjoyed the experience so much that she joined Oldendorff full-time upon graduation. She is now an operations trainee based in Singapore. Going forward, MPA will be enhancing the GIA to strengthen the relevance of the internship experience, and more details will be released ahead of the next run of the programme.

25.    For those in the sector, we will help them progress in their careers. MPA will roll out a new Global Talent Programme (GTP) to groom Singaporeans for leadership roles in the maritime sector, by offering them opportunities to hone their skills through structured rotations and overseas exposure. For seafarers who wish to upgrade themselves beyond their captain or chief engineer positions, MPA will also provide more progression pathways for their sea-to-shore transition. More details will be announced later this year.

26.    To implement these new manpower programmes and other initiatives in the Sea Transport ITM, MPA will top up its Maritime Cluster Fund by $100 million. The funds will also be used to grow non-traditional players in the maritime space, and support pilot projects to test new business concepts.

Enhancing Maritime Safety

27.    But as we push on with these ambitious plans to grow Singapore as a maritime hub, we cannot neglect the basics. Mr Dennis Tan expressed his concerns about vessel traffic safety in the Singapore Strait. Let me assure Mr Tan that maritime safety remains an important priority for MPA. This is especially since the Singapore Strait is a very busy waterway used for international navigation, with 83,000 vessels transiting through it last year. Despite its heavy traffic, the number of major incidents in Singapore waters has dropped over the years, from 13 in 2011 to just 2 in 2017.

28.    To maintain navigational safety, MPA operates the Vessel Traffic Information System (VTIS) to monitor shipping traffic in the waters around Singapore. With the capability to concurrently track more than 10,000 vessels, the VTIS enables MPA to provide timely information and advice to help vessels transit safely through the strait. MPA carries out regular enhancements to its VTIS, which was installed in 2011 and upgraded early last year. In addition, MPA has built on IMO’s International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, and required all vessels, except government and naval vessels, to turn on their AIS when calling at our port.

29.    Regulations also play an important role in ensuring safety. I thank Mr Tan for his several suggestions. Mr Tan proposed to ban crossings over the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) for ships leaving or entering our port and, instead, require them to make “u-turns” at the eastern and western ends of Singapore. We have looked into this and assessed that it is not practical. Let me explain. Vessels that are eastbound via the Strait of Malacca will have to travel all the way to the east of Singapore, and make a u-turn before calling on our port. This will require additional travel time. Moreover, if vessels are only allowed to make u-turns at these two designated areas, it may also result in bunching and congestion, potentially increasing the risk of incidents. This will affect the efficiency of our port, and prevent vessels from proceeding to their next destination expeditiously. Instead, areas are demarcated within the TSS where vessels, taking necessary precaution, may make their crossing. Vessels have to play their part in ensuring safety. They must also comply with the rules of crossing.

30.    Mr Tan also suggested that MPA review the location of our pilot boarding grounds to minimise the risk of ships drifting when waiting for pilots. Indeed, we regularly review this. Most recently in 2014, MPA worked with the industry to revise the locations of our pilot boarding grounds to reduce the risk of incidents. MPA also introduced a scheduling system for vessel arrivals. This reduced waiting time for ships, and enhanced safety of navigation.

31.    Beyond rules and regulations, we seek to improve the practice of good seamanship and advocate a safety-first culture at sea. MPA established the National Maritime Safety at Sea Council in 2015 to drive such efforts. MPA also holds safety conferences, workshops and briefings under its Safety@Sea campaign. The third International Safety@Sea Conference will be held in June this year.

32.    Mr Chairman, this is an exciting time for Maritime Singapore. Our maritime sector is not only growing, but transforming fast. In the next few years, we expect many rewarding jobs to be created, and new growth opportunities to emerge. The Government will continue to work closely with our partners so that we stand ready to seize these opportunities, and ensure Singapore’s continued success as a leading global maritime hub.

33.    Even as we create more good jobs and opportunities for our workers and companies, we are also working to enhance the quality of life for all Singaporeans.

34.    Minister Khaw Boon Wan spoke about a more reliable and smarter land transport system. I will now share MOT’s plans towards a more inclusive and safer land transport system.

Inclusive Public Transport

35.    Our land transport system should serve all Singaporeans, from the young and mobile, to the elderly, families with young children, and persons with disabilities. We have made significant strides in our journey towards a more inclusive transport system, but there are still areas where we can do better, and in making the journeys more comfortable and convenient for Singaporeans from all walks of life.

36.    We will therefore need to continue to make our roads and paths safer for all – not just for the young and active, but also for those who are less mobile. We will also need to ensure that our transport system is accessible to all commuters, including those with diverse needs.

Safer Roads and Paths for All

37.    Let me first elaborate on our initiatives to make our roads and paths safer for all, which both Mr Ang Hin Kee and Mr Png Eng Huat have spoken about. On Mr Png Eng Huat’s concern about signalised junctions with shared green time, LTA has adjusted traffic light timings to give pedestrians a head start in crossing the road, and installed lighted road studs, additional road markings and signs at higher risk junctions to remind motorists to give way. We will continue to study the situation and do more where we can.

38.    Mr Ang Hin Kee asked about the progress of Silver Zones. These are special areas with modified road designs and lower speed limit to make our streets safer. We have implemented 15 Silver Zones, and the results have been very encouraging. We have observed a 70% decrease in the number of accidents involving the elderly in the completed Silver Zones. We will complete another six Silver Zones this year, and expand the programme to 50 by 2023. And as and when the need arises, we will look into providing more Silver Zones.

A Comfortable Journey to Public Transport

39.    We will also strive to make everyone’s journey to public transport more comfortable. This starts from your doorstep. In 2012, we embarked on the Walk2Ride programme to build a comprehensive network of covered linkways, connecting public transport to nearby developments.As mentioned by Mr Ang Wei Neng and which I agree totally, LTA usually consults the grassroots advisers and grassroots leaders before determining the alignment of the covered linkways to best serve the needs of pedestrians’I am pleased to announce that we are on track to meeting our target, to have more than 200km of covered linkways by the end of this year.

40.    We have also received feedback from the elderly and persons with disabilities, that they have encountered difficulty climbing the stairs of pedestrian overhead bridges, in order to cross the road. By the end of this year, we will complete lift installations for 47 pedestrian overhead bridges near public transport nodes. We will extend this programme to about 50 more overhead bridges, starting with those within walking distance from hospitals and polyclinics.

41.    We will do our best to meet the needs of the less mobile.However, we need to prioritise our efforts given the high costs, about $4 mil per pair of lifts. In this regard, I would like to reassure Mr Ang Wei Neng that we will be prudent in our efforts, focusing on locations which most benefit those commuters who are less ambulant.

Public Transport for Commuters with Diverse Needs

42.    We also believe that everyone should be able to travel independently on public transport. We do acknowledge that the elderly, families with young children, and commuters with disabilities may face some challenges. We have therefore worked towards building a more inclusive public transport system that caters to all commuters, including those with diverse needs.

43.    Today, all MRT stations and bus interchanges are already barrier-free. 96% of our public buses are wheelchair-accessible, and we are well on track to achieving our target of 100% by 2020. To facilitate priority boarding for people with special needs, the elderly and families, we have implemented priority queues at 17 MRT stations, 7 bus interchanges and 2 Integrated Transport Hubs. We target to extend this initiative to all MRT stations by 2019, and to all bus interchanges and Integrated Transport Hubs by 2021.

44.    I would also like to take this opportunity to commend our commuters for showing care towards one another. At Outram Park MRT Station, the Public Transport Council launched the “Heart Zone” and “Heartwheels @ Linkway” initiatives in August 2017; I was there. Commuters who need help getting to SingaporeGeneral Hospital can wait at two designated areas for assistance. Wheelchairs are also provided at both ends of the transfer linkway. Many commuters have extended a helping hand to those in need, guiding them to their destinations, or pushing the wheelchairs along the linkway and I am very heartened by the success of these initiatives.

Enabling Initiatives

45.    We will also continue to explore innovative solutions to help commuters with disabilities. Last year, we shared LTA’s plan to collaborate with SG Enable to “adopt” Redhill station, to improve the first and last mile between the station and the Enabling Village. LTA and SG Enable have in the past few months spoken to and followed commuters with special needs on their journeys, to understand the pain-points and challenges in their daily commute.

46.    LTA has since installed rest stops with seats that allow pedestrians to rest, and edge markings along the footpaths to help pedestrians, especially those with low vision.Students from the Pathlight School also contributed their artistic talent, putting up unique and colourful signage to help direct the way to the Enabling Village.

47.    LTA will also collaborate with industry partners to develop and pilot assistive technologies for commuters with special needs. One of the ideas surfaced is an Assistive Passenger Information System for buses. It includes a mobile application that allows special-needs users to notify bus captains of their intention to board. For visually impaired passengers, there will be internal and external speakers to announce the service number, destination, and the next bus stop. It also directly transmits audio announcements via hearing aids to hearing-impaired passengers. The trial will start later this year on bus service 139, which serves the Enabling Village.

Family-friendly Initiatives

48.    Earlier, Minister Khaw spoke about the various transport options for families. We are also making public transport friendlier for families with young children. For example, all new bus interchanges, Integrated Transport Hubs, and all interchange stations on the Thomson-East Coast Line will be equipped with nursing rooms. In addition, all 35 stations along the Thomson-East Coast Line and Circle Line 6 will have family-friendly washrooms, with diaper changing stations, child-size toilets and barrier-free facilities.

49.    At the COS last year, we announced that we would start allowing families to board public buses with open strollers from 2 April 2017. We have received positive feedback from families, that these initiatives have made their journeys more convenient. Some commuters have also given feedback that there may not always be sufficient room for more than 1 open strollers or wheelchairs. So, going forward, new buses will be equipped with two wheelchair spaces, to accommodate more commuters in need.

50.    All these efforts will make getting around more convenient for families, without the need to own a car. We will continue to listen to commuters’ suggestions to make further improvements. My parliamentary colleague Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, Chairman of the Transport GPC, and Mr Richard Magnus, Chairman of the Public Transport Council, are leading a Panel to gather feedback and will be making recommendations on how we can make our public transport system more family-friendly. The Panel comprises diverse members, from academics, to parents with young children. We look forward to hearing their recommendations in the middle of this year.

Safer and More Responsible Use of Active Mobility

51.    We will continue to push our boundaries, and explore creative solutions to make our environment safer and more accessible to all. The growing use of bicycles and personal mobility devices (PMDs) has made first and last mile journeys more convenient for many commuters. Dockless bicycle sharing services have also made active mobility more accessible and affordable.

52.    I agree with Mr Zaqy Mohamad and Er Dr Lee Bee Wah that our infrastructure needs to keep up with the increasing prevalence of active mobility. Our priority is to build a comprehensive network of off-road cycling paths that separates cyclists from fast moving vehicles on the roads, as these paths provide a safer environment for all cyclists of different skill levels and ages. We have built cycling path networks in 9 HDB towns, and will do so for an additional 6 towns in the next five years. Moving forward, new footpaths will be at least 1.8 metres wide, which will allow two wheelchairs to pass each other safely. When planning our new towns, we will also prioritise the allocation of space to pedestrians, cyclists and PMD users.

53.    However, the rising popularity of active mobility brings new challenges. Let me start by addressing Members’ concerns over the safety of active mobility, which can arise from dangerous devices and reckless riding behaviour.

Addressing Concerns over Safety

54.    We have observed a number of fire incidents involving motorised PMDs. LTA is working with relevant stakeholders to study imposing more safety requirements on motorised PMDs, in addition to our existing requirements on their weight, size and maximum speed. In the meantime, users should exercise caution and purchase compliant PMDs from reputable sources, and refrain from modifying their PMDs.

55.    To deter reckless behaviour, we have enlisted the help of other agencies and community partners in our enforcement and education efforts. Since May 2016, LTA has issued over 3,000 advisories for unsafe riding on paths. NParks rangers and the Traffic Police officers have also stepped up their patrols in parks, on park connectors, and on roads. About 900 volunteers from the grassroots are patrolling the neighbourhoods to educate cyclists and PMD users on safe and gracious behaviour. We thank these enforcement officers and volunteers for their tireless efforts to keep our paths safe.

56.    In February 2018, LTA rolled out the Safe Riding Programme. To address A/P Randolph Tan’s concerns, the programme will educate cyclists and PMD users about the appropriate use of our active mobility infrastructure, and safe and considerate behaviour when sharing paths with others.I agree with Mr Dennis Tan that we need a right culture for safe riding. As Mr Dennis Tan suggested, we are already working with schools to educate students about the key active mobility rules and safe riding practices. We will also require cyclists and PMD users caught riding recklessly to attend this programme.

57.    Despite our efforts to educate and encourage safe riding practices, Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, Mr Ang Wei Neng, Mr Yee Chia Hsing, Miss Cheng Li Hui, Ms Foo Mee Har and Ms Joan Pereira have shared their concern about the number of accidents involving bicycles and PMDs. A/P Randolph Tan had also pointed out the danger of PMDs being used on roads. I agree totally with members that inconsiderate cyclists and PMD users not only endanger themselves, but also pedestrians and road users, and this is very worrying. We have zero tolerance for reckless behaviour, and will further tighten up our enforcement efforts.

58.    We recently enhanced the penalties for PMD users caught riding on roads. They may face a composition fine of up to $500 for the first offence. Those who ride on expressways will not be offered composition, and will be charged in court. If convicted, they will be liable to a fine of up to $2,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 3 months for the first offence.

59.    Last month, the Active Mobility Advisory Panel recommended the introduction of registration regime for e-scooters. After carefully studying the Panel’s suggestion, I am pleased to announce that the Government has decided to accept the recommendation and will be reviewing the Active Mobility Act to allow such a regime. Registering e-scooters will help deter reckless behaviour, accord more responsibility to the users, and facilitate enforcement officers in tracking down errant users. We will implement the registration regime by the end of the year, and will try to keep the process as simple and low-cost as possible.

60.    The Active Mobility Advisory Panel will also take a deeper look at our active mobility rules. Ms Joan Pereira, Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Mr Yee Chia Hsing and Er Dr Lee Bee Wah have given us valuable suggestions for the Panel to look into, such as reviewing the speed limit on footpaths, and the insurance and compensation framework. The Panel will look into these issues, weighing the need for these initiatives against the impact on the large majority of responsible users, and taking into account the practices of other jurisdictions. The Panel will publish its recommendations by the end of the year.

61.    Our tough stance targets the minority of reckless users to deter bad behaviour. It should not discourage the majority of responsible or considerate users from enjoying the benefits of active mobility. With a safe environment, the benefits of active mobility far outweigh the obstacles we are facing.

Managing Disamenities from Bicycle Sharing

62.    Next, let me move on to addressing Members’ concerns over the indiscriminate parking of dockless shared bicycles. Many members including Er Dr Lee, Miss Cheng, Mr Png, Mr Yee, Ms Foo, Mr Zaqy Mohamad and Mr Lim Biow Chuan have spoken on this issue very passionately. These bicycles obstruct other commuters and cause clutter in community spaces. It is the responsibility of every shared bicycle user to park their bicycles appropriately in bicycle racks or designated bicycle parking zones, which are widely available at all MRT stations and housing estates.

63.    Over the past year, LTA has stepped up efforts to address the problem. Since March last year, we have significantly increased the number of bicycle parking spaces by implementing yellow boxes at housing estates, MRT stations, bus stops and parks. We now have about 174,000 public bicycle parking lots island-wide, and will provide another 50,000 more by 2020.

64.    In October last year, LTA, Town Councils, and NParks signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the bicycle sharing operators – it sets out guidelines for responsible operation in public spaces. We have also enforced strictly against indiscriminately parked bicycles. Since the middle of 2017, LTA has issued more than 2,100 removal notices and collected about $180,000 in fines and administrative fees from the operators.

65.    Unfortunately, the problem of indiscriminate bicycle parking persists. Earlier this week, I tabled a Bill in Parliament to propose amendments to the Parking Places Act. This Bill will enable LTA to regulate the bicycle sharing operators through a licensing framework. Let me elaborate on some of the key aspects of the proposed regulatory regime.

66.    First, LTA will be able to manage the size of each operator’s fleet by setting a maximum cap for each operator. This is similar to what Miss Cheng Li Hui suggested. We will start off conservatively in the first instance. If an operator can demonstrate that it is able to manage indiscriminate parking and ensure good utilisation of its fleet, it will be allowed to grow over time. This ensures that we start off right, and put in place the appropriate incentive structure for operators to proactively manage indiscriminate bicycle parking.

67.    Second, LTA will have stronger levers to ensure operators to do their part to manage indiscriminate parking. Under the proposed licensing regime, we can impose standards and conditions, for example, to require operators to remove indiscriminately parked bicycles within a stipulated period. Operators who do not comply with our standards and conditions will face regulatory sanctions, such as financial penalties of up to $100,000, reduction in their fleet size, suspension or even cancellation of their licences. These penalties are higher than the $500 per bicycle fine we currently impose on operators.

68.    We also intend to implement Er Dr Lee Bee Wah’s suggestion of requiring licensed operators to provide a security deposit. This deposit can be used to defray the costs of removing abandoned bicycles of any operator that has gone bankrupt.

69.    Er Dr Lee Bee Wah and Mr Lim Biow Chuan have also suggested requiring operators to provide bicycle parking spaces or docking stations. Operators have already helped to provide some of the yellow parking boxes at bus stops, and LTA will be able to impose requirements on them to do more under the licensing regime, if necessary. Mr Png Eng Huat suggested the implementation of docking stations. The experience of other countries is that docked systems tend to be unsustainable without private sponsorship or Government subsidies. These tend to be more costly to set up, so taxpayers or users would have to pay more for the use of the bicycles.

70.    As Miss Cheng Li Hui, Mr Yee Chia Hsing and Mr Lim Biow Chuan have rightly pointed out, we should not just focus on the operators alone. It is important to ensure that users act responsibly and considerately. We feel that the most effective way of doing so is through the operators. For example, LTA will require all licensed bicycle sharing operators to collectively ban users who repeatedly park their bicycles indiscriminately from using any bicycle sharing service for a period of time.

71.    The Bill will be tabled for the Second Reading later this month. We will implement the licensing framework in the second half of this year.

72.    Mr Png Eng Huat asked about the effectiveness of geo-fencing. First, geo-fencing will be done in addition to the other measures that I have outlined earlier. Second, under the proposed licensing regime, LTA will require all licensed operators to complement GPS geo-fencing with QR code-enabled geo-fencing. And each designated parking area will have a unique QR code so operators will be able to match the QR code used with the approximate location of the parked bicycle obtained via GPS geo-fencing. So, if the location of the parked bicycle is far away from the QR code for that particular parking space, the user will not be deemed to have parked in a parking space appropriately, and will continue to be charged. It is not a perfect measure, but can be implemented quickly to address the urgent issue of indiscriminate bicycle parking.

73.    In the meantime, LTA has started trials for other types of high-accuracy geo-fencing technology that will further improve the tracking of errantly parked bicycles. We plan to conclude the first phase of the trials by 2019.


74.    Mr Chairman, to conclude, we have come far in making our transport system more inclusive and safer, for all commuters. However, we cannot do this alone. I would like to thank the strong support from the industry stakeholders and the constructive feedback from commuters, as well as many members of this House, to help us develop innovative and effective solutions to improve our transport system.

75.    We also need the community’s support in instilling a culture of safety and civic-mindedness, so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of active mobility. Used safely and responsibly, bicycles and PMDs offer great convenience, promote a healthy lifestyle, isenvironmental-friendly, and also help fulfil our vision of a car-lite society, and like what Er Lee Bee Wah shared yesterday, make this a beautiful dream for all, not a nightmare.

76.    We will continue infrastructure enhancements, the use of technology, and enhanced enforcement measures against reckless and irresponsible behaviour, I am confident that our future transport system, centred on public transport, will be safe and inclusive, leaving no one behind.