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Speech by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, Mr Baey Yam Keng, at MOT Committee of Supply Debate 2021 on A Transport System that is Safe and Accessible to All

05 Mar 2021 In Parliament

1.     Mr Chairman, I will share our efforts in building a transport system that is also safe and inclusive for all, on public paths and public transport.
Creating a safe and fun active mobility landscape for everyone
2.     More people are taking up cycling and other active modes, with monthly shared bike use tripling in 2020. It is important that all path users – both pedestrians and riders – remain safe. 
3.     Ms Yeo Wan Ling asked about improving path safety. Earlier this year, the Government accepted Active Mobility Advisory Panel’s recommendation that all bicycles must have brakes when used on public paths and roads. This will come into effect in September. 
4.     We also mandated third-party liability insurance for active mobility riders who ride for work purposes, such as delivery riders. This will go some way towards 1) ensuring that accident victims receive compensation and 2) protecting commercial riders against excessive claims. 
5.     To further enhance path safety, we announced that e-scooter and power-assisted bicycle riders must take a theory test to ride in public. With this, all riders will know the rules and code of conduct. We will release the test handbook in April and begin testing in mid-2021. 
6.     Ms Yeo Wan Ling and Mr Lim Biow Chuan asked about our efforts to educate pedestrians and riders. From May, we will launch a new ‘Move Happy’ Graciousness Campaign to raise awareness on safe and gracious path-sharing with three guidelines:
a.     First, keep left on paths
b.     Second, use the most appropriate path
c.     Third, be alert of our surroundings
7.     We have also run the Safe Riding Programme (SRP) since 2018. Many participants found this voluntary session fun, and a hands-on way to learn about safe riding. I am pleased to announce that we are refreshing the SRP around the second quarter this year, to make it even more interactive. 
8.     Responsible behaviour is also important in keeping roads safe. Like other road users, cyclists must follow traffic rules. Motorists should look out for more vulnerable users. With the right mindset and a culture of graciousness, we can enjoy active mobility in a safe and harmonious way.
Commuters continue to play a key role in making our public transport system safe and inclusive
9.     Mr Chairman, allow me to say a few words in Mandarin. 
10.    要打造一个既安全又具包容性的公共交通系统,关键在于培养优雅文化,推广乘客礼仪。
11.    乘搭公共交通是大多数国人日常生活中不可或缺的一部分。身体健全的国人乘搭公共交通是件轻松的事。但对于一些年长人士和有特殊需要的乘客来说,每一次出行可能是具有挑战性的。他们也应该能毫无障碍、安全地使用公共交通,我们必须多多体谅这些乘客,优先考虑到他们的需求,并主动地伸出援手。小小的举动,足以带给他们大大的感动。
12.    我最近听宏茂桥地铁站的交通大使说,就读附近新光学校的自闭症学生不时会找她们聊天。因为对这些有特殊需要的小乘客,大使阿姨的熟悉脸孔,对他们来说是无比的安慰和鼓励。
       [A culture of graciousness is critical in making our public transport system safe and inclusive. 
       Taking the trains and buses is a big part of our daily lives. To able-bodied Singaporeans, the public transport system is an easy way to get around quickly and conveniently. But the commute can be a bit challenging for elderly and commuters with special needs. 
       We can be more understanding towards this group of commuters, by putting their needs before ours, and stepping forward to help fellow commuters. These acts of care may be small, but they can really make a difference to those who need help.
       Recently, Ang Mo Kio MRT station ambassadors told me that students with autism from the nearby Pathlight School sometimes seek them out for a chat. To these passengers with special needs, the familiar faces of the station ambassadors can be a source of comfort and encouragement.]
13.    这里我写了一首打油诗与大家共勉之:
14.    Over the past year, the Committee engaged many commuters. Through focus group discussions and surveys, the Committee found that Singaporeans want to help fellow commuters, but often do not know how. Only about one in four commuters know how to assist commuters with conditions such as hearing and developmental disabilities. I can understand why, because these conditions may not be immediately noticeable. 
15.    We will therefore try to help the public better understand other commuters’ needs. One key initiative is the recruitment of Caring Commuter Champions, who will be trained by SG Enable to support commuters with special needs. I hope more people will volunteer as Caring Commuter Champions, to make a change in your fellow commuters’ journeys.
16.    The Public Transport Council also found that only around half of survey respondents were comfortable to ask for help even if they needed it. It is sometimes awkward to ask for help, especially when we do not want to inconvenience others. 
17.    We want to make it easier for commuters to ask for help. In October 2019, LTA launched a pilot where commuters who need a seat could alert others with a "May I have a seat please?” sticker. Go-Ahead Singapore also launched a “Helping Hand” trial, providing commuters with mobility needs a card with instructions for bus captains. Both initiatives received positive feedback. Today, I am pleased to announce that the “May I have a seat please” initiative will be made permanent. From April, commuters with long-term, invisible medical conditions or disabilities can request for a specially-designed card and lanyard at Passenger Service Centres and Offices.
Government to continue supporting and partnering industry stakeholders to build a safer and more inclusive transport system
18.    The Government will continue to invest in safety and inclusivity-related initiatives. We are improving accessibility for persons with disabilities, as Mr Gerald Giam has suggested. Today, all train stations and bus interchanges are barrier-free.  About 1,300 signalised pedestrian crossings have audio-tactile signals to help the visually-impaired pedestrians. We will work with MSF to enhance these, such as extending their operating hours.
19.    At stations along the newest Thomson-East Coast Line, we have also taken in feedback from focus group discussions to introduce bigger signages with better contrast, larger font sizes and clearer symbols. These are useful for commuters who may not see as well, or may not understand English. These will be rolled to all new stations. 
20.    However, we need to prioritise our efforts given the high cost of infrastructural improvements. For example, we have already committed over $370M over the last eight years on covered linkways and we will continue to enhance walkability. Therefore, I seek Mr Gerald Giam’s and Mr Faisal Manap’s understanding that we must be financially prudent and focus on areas near transport nodes first.
21.    Finally, commuters have asked for guidance on how to help fellow commuters. The Caring SG Commuters Committee is studying these ideas and I look forward to their recommendations due in mid-2021.
22.    Mr Chairman, our daily commutes are not just about moving a person from one point to another. They are also about sharing and navigating a common space, on public paths and public transport. All of us can make a difference. We will continue to partner the community to achieve our vision of a safe and inclusive transport system for all.