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Speech by Mr Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Community, Culture and Youth at The Ministry of Transport’s Committee of Supply Debate 2019 on a More Inclusive Land Transport System

07 Mar 2019 Speeches

Introduction

1.     Chairman, during the Land Transport Master Plan 2040 public engagement, many Singaporeans came forward to share their aspirations and concerns.

2.     We hear you and we will plan for a future-ready land transport system. Mr Yee Chia Hsing will be pleased to know that we are aspiring towards a more inclusive land transport system, which caters to the diverse mobility needs of all Singaporeans.

3.     The LTMP Advisory Panel recommended three strategies to help us achieve this.

Designing an
Inclusive Land Transport Infrastructure

4.     On the first strategy to design an inclusive land transport infrastructure: All MRT stations and bus interchanges are already barrier-free. Last year, we completed a five-year programme to add 200km of sheltered walkways to make walking to our public transport nodes more convenient and pleasant. Ms Low Yen Ling requested for sheltered walkways. LTA will continue to provide the same extent of sheltered walkway connectivity between all public transport nodes and developments, whenever new MRT lines or developments are built. With more than 60 new MRT stations underway, we expect another 100 km of sheltered walkway to be added by 2029. We must be careful in considering other locations to ensure that limited resources are focused on areas which can benefit more people.

Designing an Inclusive Land Transport Infrastructure

5.     We will continue to do more for our seniors and take steps to enhance road safety for them.

a.     In 2014, we introduced Silver Zones which featured narrower roads and speed humps to reduce traffic speed, and two-stage crossings to allow senior pedestrians to rest at the midpoint. We have completed 15 Silver Zones, and I am glad accident rates in these areas have dropped by 75%. We are building another 20 Silver Zones by 2020 at areas including Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, Potong Pasir Avenue 1 and Tampines Street 81. We are on track to achieve our target of 50 Silver Zones by 2023. As LTA continues to work with the community on the design of these identified locations, we are also adopting innovative solutions.

b.     In December 2018, LTA tested three-dimensional traffic calming markings along Whampoa Drive to slow down traffic. LTA has also installed LED road studs at zebra crossings to alert motorists of pedestrians at night. I urge all motorists to slow down and be even more alert to look out for pedestrians when approaching these areas.

c.     Besides infrastructure enhancements, we also need to have a robust vehicle homologation regime. This refers to LTA’s process to ensure that new vehicle models meet all technical and safety requirements before they can be used on our roads. During last week’s Budget debate, Mr Ang Wei Neng said that the process takes 8 weeks. I checked and am glad to find that this is not correct. The average time taken by LTA was 2 weeks in 2018. Even if we include the time to clarify an incomplete application, the average total time taken was 5 weeks in 2018. The regime is aligned with internationally recognised standards, such as the UN Economic Commission for Europe regulations. LTA will continue to engage industry stakeholders to streamline the process to reduce business costs, while ensuring safety.

6.     We will also make land transport more accessible for commuters with disabilities.

a.     We have committed to making all our public buses wheelchair accessible by 2020. Besides physical accessibility, we also want to make information such as service number and bus stop destination more accessible to commuters with special needs.

b.     In January 2019, LTA started a trial on Mobility Assistance for the Visually-Impaired and Special Users, or MAVIS mobile app. This provides audio announcements both on the bus and at the bus stop to help bus commuters with special needs. The trial started with three buses on Service 139 which serves the Enabling Village. These three buses will subsequently be redeployed in May 2019 to Service 141, which serves the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped. This will help us to study the feasibility of such assistive technologies on more public bus services.

7.     Next, let’s look at families.

a.     Last year, Government received recommendations from the Family Friendly Transport Advisory Panel. I am happy to announce that the Government accepts the Panel’s recommendations and we are already implementing some of the measures. For example, LTA started the one-year trial for the stroller restraint system on Service 69 in June 2017. We received positive feedback and will progressively install the system on all buses by 2020.

b.     LTA will be conducting a pilot on one rail line, to designate priority cabins for vulnerable commuters such as seniors, persons with disabilities and families with young children. These cabins will be located near the station lifts where possible.

c.     Beyond mass public transport, we will also make point-to-point transport more accessible by designing all new taxi stands to be barrier-free.

Developing Capabilities of Public Transport Workers

8.     Chairman, our second strategy is to develop the capabilities of our public transport workers as they make important contributions. I agree with Mr Melvin Yong, that a first class transport system needs a first class transport workforce.

9.     Land transport workers work hard daily to bring millions of Singaporeans safely to their destinations and they also offer assistance regularly for those in need to make their journeys easier. Bus captains start their day as early as 4am and rail technicians work throughout the nights to carry out maintenance works. They are working while we are sleeping. We should appreciate and support them.

a.     The Public Transport Workers’ Appreciation Day was launched in 2017. Last year, the event was held at the Istana for the very first time. This emphasises the important contributions by our public transport workers.

b.     Beyond formal recognition, a simple ‘hello’ or ‘thank you’ or just a smile when we meet a transport worker, can brighten their days.

c.     We will continue to work with operators and unions to improve working conditions and training opportunities for our transport workers. New and upgraded bus depots and interchanges will have more comfortable staff canteens and lounges. The Singapore Bus Academy and the Singapore Rail Academy are also working with NTWU, industry partners and Voluntary Welfare Organisations to enhance training content to build capabilities of public transport workers to better serve commuters in need.

Nurturing a Gracious and Caring Commuting Culture

10.    Chairman, an inclusive land transport system requires everyone to play their part. The Government will continue to invest in inclusive infrastructure. The public transport workers also play an important role to support more vulnerable commuters. Lastly, commuters must contribute in creating a safe community space, fostering positive social norms and a caring commuting culture. This is the third strategy recommended by the LTMP Advisory Panel.

a.     LTA began Graciousness Campaigns for public transport in 2009, to promote simple acts of thoughtful behaviour such as giving up seats and queuing. LTA has been progressively replacing the reserved seat stickers on trains with new stickers featuring the Thoughtful Character, Stand-Up Stacey. I thank Mr Yee Chia Hsing for his interest in our campaigns and their effectiveness. LTA’s perception study showed that the new stickers have helped to sustain interest in terms of commuters giving up their seats.

b.     Indeed, Singaporeans are willing to go the extra mile to help fellow commuters. At the Heart Zones at Jurong East, Novena and Outram Park MRT stations, the community readily come forward to help patients who need assistance to get to the nearby hospitals. Later this year, the Public Transport Council (PTC) will implement Heart Zone at Yishun MRT station, in partnership with Yishun Health. PTC aims to have Heart Zones at all MRT stations near every restructured hospital, for example Seng Kang and Simei. We want to encourage a culture where small caring gestures can make a difference.

c.     Some of my parliamentary colleagues are interested to offer needy residents credits to top up their fare cards, very much like how NTUC FairPrice vouchers are used to help them purchase daily necessities. We will look into this suggestion.

Conclusion

11.    打造既安全又具包容性的陆路交通系统,需要政府、交通员工和乘客公众,大家的努力。建设硬件设施及推出宣导运动固然可以促进优雅社会,不过要达到持久的成效还有赖乘客之间相互关怀。我鼓励国人在日常生活中多多发挥“正能量” 。无论是在公共巴士,公路或走道上,多关心周围的路人、乘客、车长和其他公共交通服务人员。多为他人着想、多帮助有需要的人。即使不是坐在 “保留座位”,也可以把位子让给有需要的乘客。驾驶车辆时,不单只在乐龄安全区放慢速度,而是留意所有行人,安全驾驶。这么一来,我相信我们可以齐心协力,为新加坡人打造一个完善、安全又舒适的陆路交通系统。只要人民一心,我们必能创造一个“同心、同行”的通勤体验, 让每个旅程更加舒适、温馨、愉快。

[Mr Chairman, building a safe and inclusive land transport system requires everyone to play their part – Government, workers and commuters. While infrastructure and campaigns can facilitate gracious behaviour, it is not sufficient. We need motorists and commuters to take care of one another by sparing a thought for others and putting others’ needs before self. With that, we can create a safe and welcoming land transport system together for all Singaporeans for generations to come.]

12.    最后,让我以一段话共勉之:

通勤在新

同心同行

若不关心

寸步难行

献出爱心

你我温馨

行驶步行

安全开心