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Speech by Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam Pin Min on Second Reading of the Land Transport (Enforcement Measures) Bill 2018

10 Sep 2018 In Parliament

Opening

1.     Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Minister for Transport, I beg to move, “That the Bill be now read a second time.”

Introduction

2.     LTA undertakes a very wide range of functions which have grown over time. Among others, LTA regulates public transport operators, develops and maintains our road and path networks, regulates vehicles and devices used on our roads and public paths, and enforces against a wide range of transport-related offences.

3.     LTA is also faced with a constantly changing transport landscape. In particular, the increased use of active mobility in recent years has required LTA to step up its enforcement efforts to strike the right balance between promoting active mobility and ensuring the safety of other users of public paths and roads.

4.     The Land Transport (Enforcement Measures) Bill (or “LTEM Bill”) therefore amends seven different land transport-related Acts to strengthen LTA’s enforcement capacity and enhance safety on our public paths and roads. These seven Acts are: (i) the Active Mobility Act (or “AMA”), (ii) the Bus Services Industry Act (or “BSIA”), (iii) the Land Transport Authority of Singapore Act (or “LTA Act”), (iv) the Parking Places Act (or “PPA”), (v) the Rapid Transit Systems Act (or “RTSA”), (vi) the Road Traffic Act (or “RTA”), and (vii) the Street Works Act (or “SWA”).

5.     This Bill has five main components:

a.     The first enhances our laws to improve active mobility safety, including introducing a PMD registration regime;

b.     The second augments LTA’s enforcement capacity by empowering outsourced enforcement officers to exercise certain powers of LTA officers, in particular for certain active mobility offences;

c.     The third increases the penalties for persons who cause damage to public streets;

d.     The fourth facilitates LTA’s efforts to serve notices electronically; and

e.     Lastly, the Bill makes miscellaneous amendments to update provisions in the various Acts.

6.     Let me explain each of these changes in turn.

Active Mobility

7.     The first set of amendments enhances our laws to improve active mobility safety.

8.     Active mobility, which includes walking, cycling, and the use of personal mobility devices (or “PMDs”) and personal mobility aids (or “PMAs”), has brought benefits and additional transport options to many Singaporeans. Some individuals use PMDs to take on food or package delivery jobs, while the elderly and those with walking difficulties use PMAs to get around more easily.

9.     The AMA came into force in May this year. This laid down the framework of path-sharing rules and regulations, such as where devices can be used and what speed limits they have to adhere to. This was based on the recommendations made by the Active Mobility Advisory Panel (or “AMAP”) in 2016 after extensive public consultation.

10.    There are many responsible device users and cyclists who watch out for other path users, ride at safe speeds, and dismount and push their devices at crowded areas and at traffic junctions. We have also undertaken many efforts to educate and encourage safe riding practices. Since February 2018, there have been some 9,000 participants in the Safe Riding Programme.

11.    Unfortunately, there are still reckless and inconsiderate riders who endanger the safety of others. Much concern has been expressed, including by Members of this House, about the increase in the number of accidents on public paths. To address this, LTA has stepped up its enforcement efforts since last year, and has detected over 1,300 offences since May 2018. Several riders who have caused hurt in accidents have also been charged and sentenced in Court.

E-Scooter Registration Regime

12.    To further support effective enforcement against reckless behaviour on public paths, I had earlier announced that LTA will be introducing a registration regime for electric scooters (or “e-scooters”) at AMAP’s recommendation. Clause 11 of the Bill thus introduces a new Part 3A to the AMA, consisting of new sections 28A to 28G, which lays out the legislative framework for a PMD registration regime.

13.    The registration regime will help instil a greater sense of responsibility among owners and users of PMDs, deter reckless riding behaviour and facilitate the identification of errant users.

14.    The new Part 3A make registrations mandatory for the types of PMDs that Minister prescribes in subsidiary legislation. As recommended by AMAP, we will start with the mandatory registration of e-scooters, which are motorised PMDs with handle-bars. It will be an offence to ride, or to cause or permit to ride, an unregistered e-scooter on public paths, knowing that, or reckless as to whether, the e-scooter is unregistered.

15.    The applicant will be required to provide his personal particulars which will be stored in a register. This will facilitate the tracing of the person responsible when investigating offences involving a particular e-scooter. The applicant will also be required to declare that his e-scooter is compliant with the width, weight and motorised speed restrictions for PMDs. This will ensure that only compliant e-scooters are ridden on our public paths. It will be an offence to make a false declaration during the registration process.

16.    Once an e-scooter is registered, the registrant will be issued with a registration mark containing a unique registration number assigned to the e-scooter. The registrant will also be required to make and affix an identification mark, in the form of a sticker, prominently on the e-scooter. Under the new section 20A of the AMA, it will be an offence to ride the e-scooter on public paths without displaying the registration mark or identification sticker. This will make e-scooters more easily identifiable to enforcement officers and to the general public.

Rebuttable Presumption Regime for Certain Active Mobility Offences

17.    The new section 59A in the AMA also introduces a rebuttable presumption regime for certain active mobility offences. This is similar to the provisions under the RTA for driver-related traffic offences. If the individual owner of a bicycle, power-assisted bicycle, PMD, motorised wheelchair or mobility scooter fails to provide enforcement officers with information about the rider after a certain offence involving that device has been committed, the owner will be presumed to have been the rider who committed the offence. The owner can rebut this presumption by proving that he was not the rider at the time of the offence, such as by showing proof that he was then overseas. This reinforces the duty of owners to ensure the responsible use of their devices, and to assist with the administration of justice.

Motorised Personal Mobility Aids

18.    The Bill also makes amendments to the regulatory regime for motorised PMAs i.e. motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters. PMAs enable the elderly and individuals with walking difficulties to move around. In recognition of this need, today’s law imposes fewer restrictions on PMAs. For example, there are currently no restrictions on the width, weight and device speed for motorised PMAs, and they are allowed to be ridden on pedestrian-only paths.

19.    Unfortunately, some people have tried to take advantage of this. Irresponsible retailers have been falsely advertising non-compliant PMDs, such as overweight e-scooters or e-scooters with seats, as mobility scooters to circumvent our PMD regulations. This is despite the fact that these non-compliant PMDs are not designed to meet the usual specifications of mobility scooters, which have seats with back support and substantial footrests as their purpose is to carry individuals who are unable to walk or have walking difficulties. In addition to irresponsible retailers, some able-bodied users are also using PMAs to circumvent the restrictions on PMDs. This problem will likely worsen if left unchecked.

20.    We have therefore accepted AMAP’s recommendation to impose a maximum device speed limit of 10km/h on motorised PMAs. This will reduce the incentive for able-bodied users to switch to motorised PMAs, and safeguard the use of such devices for those who have genuine needs.

21.    At the same time, this 10km/h device speed limit will not significantly impact genuine users. Most of the PMAs available today already comply with this speed limit. LTA will work closely with retailers, hospitals and voluntary welfare organisations to help PMA users adjust to the regulation.

22.    To implement this, the Bill amends section 2 of the AMA to introduce a definition of a “non-compliant mobility vehicle” as a mobility scooter or motorised wheelchair that does not comply with regulations as to the construction of the device. The Bill also amends sections 29 to 36 of the AMA to prohibit the use of non-compliant mobility vehicles on public paths, and to prohibit the sale of such devices by retailers for use on public paths. This is similar to the treatment of non-compliant PMDs.

PMD Fire Safety Standard

23.    Apart from improving safety on public paths, we are also concerned about the issue of fire safety. There have been more than 80 fire incidents involving motorised PMDs since 2016. These pose serious public safety concerns.

24.    Currently, many of the motorised PMDs sold in Singapore do not conform to any reliable safety standard. LTA has studied the safety standards available today, and determined that the UL2272 standard is suitable for application for motorised PMDs in Singapore. UL2272 is developed by an independent US certification company. Conformity with the standard under UL2272 can significantly improve the safety of motorised PMDs against fire and electrical hazards.

25.    For public safety, we intend to require all motorised PMDs intended for use on public paths to conform to the UL2272 standard. We intend to prohibit retailers from selling motorised PMDs which are not UL2272 compliant from July 2019 onwards. Existing owners of motorised PMDs which are not UL2272 compliant can continue to use their devices until end-2020. Clause 4 of the Bill introduces a new section 19(3) into the AMA to allow the stipulation of such a grace period of usage. The use of motorised PMDs that are not UL2272 compliant on public paths will be illegal from January 2021 onwards.

26.    To facilitate the introduction of UL2272 as a technical standard for motorised PMDs, Clause 35 introduces a new section 67A into the AMA. This allows LTA to refer to external technical standards without having to reproduce the text of the external material as part of the rule in Singapore. We will then prescribe the requirement for motorised PMDs to comply with the UL2272 standard as a device criterion under the Active Mobility Regulations.

27.    Meanwhile, we strongly encourage owners of motorised PMDs to switch to UL2272-compliant devices as soon as possible in order to minimise the fire risk of their devices. When purchasing PMDs, consumers should try to buy from reputable sources and look out for fire safety standards. Consumers should also avoid overcharging batteries, modifying their PMDs or tampering with the electrical components of the PMDs.

Augmenting Enforcement Capacity

28.    The second set of amendments will strengthen LTA’s enforcement capacity.

29.    Today, LTA has a team of over 50 Active Mobility Enforcement Officers and cross-trained officers who enforce against errant active mobility users and indiscriminate bicycle parking across the island. However, LTA’s active mobility enforcement demands have grown tremendously over the past few years, and will continue to rise as active mobility becomes more popular.

Outsourced Enforcement Officers

30.    To meet LTA’s increasing enforcement needs, Clause 39 introduces new sections 11, 11A and 11B to the LTA Act to allow LTA to appoint outsourced enforcement officers (or “OEOs”) to exercise limited enforcement powers. LTA will be able to contract suitable individuals to exercise limited enforcement powers against selected offences such as indiscriminate parking of bicycles. Another example is that the OEOs are conferred power to examine vehicles used on public paths to ensure compliance with the AMA.

31.    The Bill demarcates what powers these OEOs can exercise. In addition, the Chief Executive of LTA will have to explicitly authorise which of the OEOs can exercise which of these powers. The Chief Executive of LTA will also have the power to specify where and when these OEOs can exercise these powers. The Bill expressly prohibits an OEO from exercising any power of arrest. It also requires them to be in uniform and show their identification cards when exercising their powers.

Deterring Persons Who Cause Damage to Road Infrastructure

32.    The third group of amendments increases penalties for persons who damage public streets.

33.    There have been several major oil spills and collisions between over-height vehicles and overhead structures such as pedestrian overhead bridges in recent years. These endanger the safety of road users, disrupt traffic, and incur high repair costs.

34.    Under the SWA today, it is an offence to cause damage to public streets wilfully, but it is not an offence if the action in question is reckless or negligent. To deter such behaviour, Clause 74 of the Bill changes sections 33 and 34 of the SWA in two ways:

a.     First, it will be an offence to recklessly or negligently engage in conduct causing damage, with a penalty of up to $50,000 and/or imprisonment up to 6 months.

b.     Second, the maximum fine for intentionally engaging in conduct causing damage is correspondingly increased from $10,000 to $100,000. There is no change to the maximum jail term of 6 months.

35.    LTA retains the option of suing for the full cost of repair.

Electronic Service of Notices

36.    The fourth set of amendments facilitates LTA’s efforts to serve notices electronically.

37.    With advances in technology, many transactions and notifications can now be done via electronic means like email and SMS. In line with our Smart Nation and Digital Government strategies, the Bill amends the various land-transport Acts to allow LTA to serve notices through electronic means, instead of solely through hard-copy letters. This will simplify the notification process and enable faster response by the recipients. LTA will obtain the person’s consent, whether express or implied, for the use of the electronic mode of service before issuing electronic notices to the person.

38.    To facilitate this, LTA will also expand the use of its Vehicle Registration and Licensing System (VRLS), which currently allows persons to submit RTA applications and documents electronically to LTA, and allows LTA to serve RTA notices electronically through the system. New sections 43 and 43A of the LTA Act will expand the scope of VRLS to cover applications, documents and notices under all land transport legislation administered by LTA.

Miscellaneous Amendments

39.    The final set of amendments are miscellaneous amendments to update provisions in certain Acts or to bring them in line with other Acts.

Conclusion

40.    Mr Speaker, this Bill will make LTA more effective in enforcing, managing and regulating the transport system. This will provide a better and safer transport landscape for all Singaporeans.

41.    Mr Speaker, I beg to move.