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Parking Places (Amendment) Bill Second Reading Opening Speech by Senior Minister of State Dr Lam Pin Min

20 Mar 2018 In Parliament

1.     Mister Speaker, I beg to move, “That the Bill be now read a second time.”

Background

2.     We have invested substantially in our public transport network and will continue to do so. By 2030, 8 in 10 households will be within a 10-minute walk of a train station. The advent of sharing services of active mobility devices – bicycles, power-assisted bicycles (PABs) and personal mobility devices (PMDs), has made the journey between the train station and our homes and work places even more convenient. Over time, we will reduce our reliance on cars. Today, two in three trips during peak periods are already made on public transport.By 2030, we aim for three in four trips to be so. We will continue to work towards a car-lite Singapore, which will allow us to maximise the use of limited land and free up car park space for other uses, such as housing, schools and hospitals.

3.     This Bill will support our vision of a car-lite Singapore, by making two key changes to the Parking Places Act (PPA).

a.     First, the Bill introduces a licensing regime for dockless vehicle-sharing operators, which will cover sharing services for bicycles, PMDs and PABs. While such sharing operations contribute to the attractiveness of our public transport network, it has unfortunately led to pervasive indiscriminate parking of bicycles which degrades our living environment and creates safety issues. A licensing regime will address the problem of indiscriminate parking and allow sharing operations to grow in a more sustainable manner.

b.     Second, the Bill will allow the Government to improve the management of parking provision by private developments, to support our car-lite vision. This will in turn allow us to maximise the use of the limited land in Singapore, and free up space to improve our living environment.

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

Licensing Regime for Dockless Vehicle-Sharing Operators

5.     The first set of amendments pertains to the licensing of dockless vehicle-sharing operators. Dockless bicycle-sharing started just over a year ago and has expanded rapidly. There are now more than 100,000 shared bicycles in Singapore.There are many advantages to dockless bicycle sharing.

a.     First, it omits the need to build expensive docks.

b.     Second, it provides the convenience for Singaporeans who wish to use a bicycle occasionally, but do not want the hassle of owning one.

c.     Third, users can pick up the bicycle at the start of a journey and drop it off at the end, which is very convenient and offers Singaporeans more travel options. This has in turn helped to encourage active mobility in Singapore.

6.     Unfortunately, indiscriminate parking of shared bicycles has marred this positive development. The bicycle sharing operators have exacerbated this problem as they grew their fleets too quickly in a bid to capture market share. There are also inconsiderate and irresponsible users who leave bicycles outside of the designated parking areas.

7.     LTA has worked hard to address the problem.

a.     LTA has been increasing parking infrastructure for bicycles. There are now over 170,000 public bicycle parking lots at MRT stations, bus stops, HDB estates and parks. LTA and other public agencies plan to provide another 50,000 more bicycle parking lots by 2020. Collectively, they provide ease of accessibility without cluttering our urban landscape, a balance we need to strike even if some users prefer bicycle parking lots right at their doorstep.

b.     LTA, NParks and Town Councils have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with bicycle-sharing operators in October 2017. The MOU contains guidelines for the responsible operation of bicycle-sharing services in public spaces and educating users on proper parking behaviour.

c.     In addition, LTA has impounded indiscriminately parked bicycles which were not removed by operators within half a day, and fined operators. Since mid-last year, LTA has issued more than 2,100 removal notices, and collected about $180,000 in fines and administrative fees from the operators.

Despite these efforts, the problem of indiscriminate parking remains.

8.     To strengthen LTA’s levers to deal with indiscriminate parking, we propose to introduce a licensing framework for active mobility device-sharing operators. I have spoken about this during my Ministry’s Committee of Supply debate earlier this month and many members in this House have expressed their support.

9.     Clause 6 of the Bill introduces a new Part 3, which consists of new Sections 8 to 8T setting out the proposed licensing regime.

10.    It will be an offence to operate without a licence under Section 8C. If convicted, unlicensed operators will face a fine of up to $10,000, or imprisonment of up to 6 months, or both. A further fine of up to $500 will be imposed for each day the offence continues after conviction.

11.    Next, allow me to elaborate on the scope and key features of the licensing regime.

Scope of Licensing Regime

12.    I would like to highlight three points about the scope of the licensing regime.

a.     First, the licensing regime will cover dockless vehicle-sharing services for active mobility devices, such as bicycles, PMDs and PABs.

b.     Second, the regime is focused on sharing services that operate in public places.

        i. Section 8 defines public places as State land and land controlled or managed by a statutory body, where the public has free access.

        ii. Vehicle-sharing services that operate only in private land, or in areas where the public does not have free right of access, will not be covered by the licensing regime. Examples include private land such as shopping malls, places where access requires proof of identity such as military camps or ticketed attractions like the Singapore Zoo.

c.     Third, we will not regulate docked vehicle-sharing businesses whose vehicles must be hired from or returned to exclusive vehicle docking stations, such as Vélib [pronounced “vay-leeb”] in Paris or YouBike in Taipei. A bicycle rental business operating from a shop is also excluded from the licensing regime if its customers must return the bicycles hired to the shop. The nature of such services makes them less likely to cause parking-related disamenities.

Key Features of Licensing Regime

13.    The licensing regime has three key features:

a.     First, LTA will manage the size of each operator’s fleet. This will be done by using its powers under Section 8G to impose licence conditions, including conditions on the maximum fleet size that each operator can deploy.

        i. Given the scale of the indiscriminate parking problem today, LTA will take a more conservative approach in setting the fleet sizes at the start. However, we will review the fleet sizes regularly. Operators who manage their fleets well can apply to LTA to grow their fleets.

        ii. In assessing applications to increase fleet size, LTA will take into account factors such as the operator’s ability to manage indiscriminate parking by its users, its fleet utilisation rate, and other relevant factors such as demand for the service and availability of parking spaces. This will create the right incentives for operators to put in place processes to manage indiscriminate parking, and ensure that each operator grows its fleet in a more sustainable manner.

b.     Second, the licensing regime will give LTA regulatory levers to require operators to manage indiscriminate parking.

        i. Under Sections 8G, 8H, 8N and 8O, LTA will be able to impose and vary licence conditions on each operator, issue directions, and set industry-wide “standards of performance” on the service provided by licensees. For example, under Section 8N(2), LTA will set industry-wide standards relating to the use of geo-fencing and on the frequency of removal of indiscriminately parked vehicles in a timely manner.

        ii. Under Section 8P, LTA can take regulatory action against operators who fail to comply with its directions, standards of performance or licence conditions such as the maximum fleet size. A range of regulatory action is provided to LTA to enable a better calibrated response to non-compliance by licensees. Regulatory action ranges from reducing the maximum fleet size, imposing financial penalties of up to $100,000 for each instance of non-compliance, suspending or even cancelling licences.

        iii. Clause 11 also amends section 15 of the PPA to empower appointed enforcement officers to remove and detain abandoned vehicles which were used in the provision of unlicensed vehicle-sharing services, or parked in contravention of any written law.

c.     Third, LTA will direct licensed operators to work together to collectively ban individuals who persistently park improperly in public places. This means that an individual user who has been found to have parked improperly at least 3 times in a calendar year when renting from one or more operators, will be banned temporarily from renting from all operators.

        i. The majority of users are responsible and park the shared vehicles in designated parking areas. However, there are irresponsible and inconsiderate users who do not do so. It is important to hold them accountable.

        ii. Under the licensing regime, LTA can direct operators to impose a time-limited ban on users who repeatedly park the shared vehicles indiscriminately.

        iii. To this end, Section 8L authorises licensed operators to share among themselves information on users who have improperly parked vehicles in a public place. The information sharing will be limited to the extent necessary for implementing the collective ban.

Other Provisions

14.    Let me quickly touch on a few other provisions related to the licensing regime.

a.     LTA will be able to leverage on data and technology to improve enforcement. Section 8K imposes obligations on operators to keep accounts and records, and to provide information to LTA. This can include data on the location of each deployed vehicle so that LTA can remotely track indiscriminate parking and enforce more effectively. Section 8M also requires operators to provide information when requested by LTA for enforcement purposes. Failure to provide information to LTA under Sections 8K and 8M will be offences.

b.     Section 8Q empowers the Minister for Transport to make safety directives to minimise the risk of death or serious injury to individuals, or damage to property arising from dockless vehicle-sharing services.

c.     Under Section 8R, licensees or licence applicants can appeal to the Minister for Transport against certain of LTA’s decisions under the new Part 3.

d.     Clause 12 inserts a new Section 15C to make it an offence to provide false or misleading information in licence applications. The penalty on conviction is a fine of up to $10,000, or imprisonment of up to 12 months, or both.

Improving Management of Parking Provisions

15.    Let me now turn to the second key set of changes proposed in this Bill – the management of parking provisions.

Parking Provisions by Private Developments

16.    The PPA was last amended in 2005 and needs to be updated to prepare for a time when we will rely less on cars:

a.     Today, the PPA allows LTA to make rules on the number of parking places or spaces to be provided on any type of land or buildings. Private developments have to provide a specified minimum number of parking lots. Clause 17 introduces a new Section 22 which empowers LTA to make rules prescribing the range of parking lots which private developments have to provide, defined by a lower and/or upper limit. This will enable LTA to better calibrate parking provision requirements for private developments. LTA will release more details by the end of the year.

b.     Clause 5 introduces a new Section 6A which allows LTA to approve proposals to provide parking lots in accordance with rules made under the new Section 22. Alternatively, LTA can administratively approve parking provisions, taking into consideration factors such as the proximity of the development to public transport facilities, or the availability of other parking places in the vicinity. This will allow developers to trial new concepts of space and land planning, and new parking concepts such as hub car parks in future car-lite precincts.

Improving Administration of HDB and URA Car Parks

17.    The Bill will also amend the PPA to improve the operational efficiency of HDB and URA car parks.

a.     Today, the PPA requires the Minister for Transport to prescribe parking charges for HDB and URA’s car parks. However, this is operationally cumbersome. We are hence amending the PPA to empower the LTA Superintendent and HDB’s and URA’s Deputy and Assistant Superintendents to prescribe parking charges for HDB and URA car parks, via Clause 7 of the Bill.

b.     In view of the volume of decisions to detain vehicles found abandoned or parked unlawfully, and to improve operational efficiency, Clause 11 amends Section 15 to allow the Superintendent as well as authorised officers to also make these decisions on his behalf.

Conclusion

18.    Mister Speaker, this Bill will facilitate more sustainable growth in the use of shared active mobility devices, and allow LTA to calibrate parking provision more precisely. This will bring us a step closer to our vision of a car-lite Singapore.

19.    Mister Speaker, I beg to move.