Speech by Senior Minister of State for Transport, Dr Amy Khor at MOT Committee of Supply Debate 2024 – Building a More Inclusive and Friendly Transport System

05 Mar 2024In Parliament
1.     Chairman, let me share how we will build a more inclusive and friendly transport system, for a more liveable and sustainable city.

Making Walk Cycle Ride safer and more convenient

2.     As Minister earlier announced, we will set aside around $1 billion of additional funding to expand the Friendly Streets initiative and build more commuter infrastructure. Let me elaborate. 

Friendly Streets

3.     At last year’s COS, I announced the Friendly Streets initiative to make walking in our neighbourhoods safer and more comfortable, and roads more pedestrian friendly. 

4.     Ms Yeo Wan Ling asked about the progress of this initiative. We began with five pilots, developing the Friendly Streets features with localised Taskforces comprising grassroots leaders and agencies to address needs on the ground. Works have already started at Bukit Batok West, Ang Mo Kio and Tampines, and will start at Toa Payoh and West Coast in the first half of this year. Residents will benefit from traffic-calming features such as road humps, and inclusive features such as barrier-free crossings and upgraded bus stops. Having sat in the taskforce meetings, I am heartened by the passion of stakeholders to create safer and more inclusive roads. 

5.     We will expand the Friendly Streets initiative to all HDB towns by 2030, as well as to private estates with high-activity areas and key amenities nearby. Starting this year, we will begin engagements on 10 more Friendly Streets in Bedok, Buangkok, Bukit Panjang, Choa Chu Kang, Jurong East, Pek Kio, Punggol, Holland/Buona Vista, Sembawang and Tiong Bahru/Havelock. These locations have a higher proportion of seniors or young families.

6.     We will work closely with the community to implement features to meet residents’ needs. For example, the upcoming Friendly Street in Sembawang will provide young families in the area a safer and more comfortable walk between the MRT station, bus interchange, and Bukit Canberra community hub. 

Commuter Infrastructure

7.     Next, in support of Age Well SG and Healthier SG, we will do even more to support walking as the first and last mile mode of commuting. Ms Poh Li San will be glad to know that we will enhance our commuter infrastructure over the next decade: first, by building more covered linkways, second, by upgrading more bus stops with senior-friendly features, and third, by retrofitting more pedestrian overhead bridges, or POBs, with lifts. Besides helping seniors stay socially connected and active, these will create more comfortable commutes for all. 

8.     Today, we have around 285km of covered linkways built by LTA connecting major transport nodes to key amenities within a 400-metre radius. Mr Ang Wei Neng will be glad to know that we will now expand this parameter, to also build covered linkways to connect MRT stations to more Friendly Streets that are largely within an 800-metre radius, and also to some key amenities nearby. LTA will conduct site studies to identify suitable locations for these covered linkways, including evaluating the many requests for covered linkways such as Mr Faisal Manap’s. 

9.     We will also upgrade more bus stops to better accommodate seniors and those with mobility challenges. Under LTA’s Bus Stop Infrastructure Enhancement Programme, we have upgraded 255 bus stops to be barrier-free and senior-friendly, and expect to upgrade another 105 bus stops by 2025. We will go further to make even more bus stops senior-friendly, especially those near healthcare institutions or in areas with many seniors. These bus stops will have more seats with arm and back rests, rain screens and wheelchair-friendly waiting areas.

10.    Since 2013, we have also retrofitted 87 existing POBs with lifts, where at-grade road crossings are unfeasible. To manage the high costs of retrofitting works, we prioritised those near major transport nodes and healthcare institutions. Going forward, we will expand our coverage to retrofit more POBs at areas with many seniors. 

Road Repurposing

11.    In addition, we will continue with road repurposing to prioritise road space for pedestrians and cyclists. So far, we have completed four road repurposing projects at Havelock Road, the Civic District, Kampung Admiralty and Tiong Bahru. In end-2023, we started works to pedestrianise Choa Chu Kang Terrace and Yung Sheng Road. 

12.    We will embark on two new road repurposing projects at Zion Road and Sims Place in 2024.

a.     Along Zion Road, we will widen footpaths and create a new cycling path by repurposing up to two of six road lanes, to improve the walking and cycling experience. We will also expand the bus shelter and provide sheltered connectivity towards Zion Riverside Food Centre. Stakeholders we engaged have welcomed the proposals.

b.     Along Sims Place, we will repurpose two of four road lanes to widen the footpath and create a cycling path, and construct a high covered linkway to provide shelter to amenities such as Sims Vista Market and Food Centre. 

Road Safety

13.    Ms Joan Pereira and Mr Lim Biow Chuan spoke on the importance of road safety. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why we introduced Friendly Streets. We have also taken active steps to enhance road safety over the years, such as by improving the design of roads and raising road safety awareness. LTA and the Traffic Police work closely with schools, the community and the Singapore Road Safety Council to engage all road users. LTA also regularly reviews traffic accident data to identify roads where we may need to put in additional safety measures such as traffic calming measures and pedestrian crossings. 

14.    Taken together, our efforts to expand Friendly Streets, build more commuter infrastructure and repurpose roads will make the first and last mile of our journeys safer and friendlier, for a more inclusive commute. But most importantly, we agree with Ms Pereira – everyone has an important part to play in ensuring road safety. The government cannot do this alone. 

Enhancing the availability, reliability, and inclusivity of point-to-point transport services

15.    Next, on point-to-point, or P2P, transport. Ms Yeo Wan Ling asked about the P2P sector review announced in September last year. MOT and LTA have been engaging relevant stakeholders on how we can enhance the availability, reliability, and inclusivity of P2P services. This will especially benefit our seniors, persons with disabilities, and families with young children.

16.    The P2P landscape has evolved, with private hire cars and ride-hail services becoming more common. Between 2020 and 2023, the proportion of street-hail rides, where commuters flag a taxi along the street or at a taxi stand, declined from 23% to 12%. Over the same period, the number of taxis also declined from 15,800 to 13,600. Despite this shift, taxis and street-hail services continue to play an important role, particularly for certain commuter segments and in certain locations. 

a.     First, taxis are an important supply of rides, especially late at night when it is often more difficult to secure a private hire car, or PHC. 

b.     Second, taxis are important in serving commuters who may be less familiar with ride-hailing apps and prefer to flag down taxis, such as our seniors; and

c.     Third, taxis are often critical in locations such as airports and ferry terminals, to serve both locals and tourists. 

17.    As Minister earlier announced, we will introduce measures to facilitate a stable supply of street-hail services and taxis. 

Updating regulatory regime for taxis and PHCs

18.    Currently, taxis incur higher operating costs as they are subject to more stringent regulations compared to PHCs. For instance, taxis have a statutory lifespan of eight years and must undergo more frequent inspections due to higher mileage. Taxi operators must also meet certain service standards, such as maintaining a call-booking system. 

19.    We will update the regulatory regime to reduce the operating costs of taxis, and rationalise the inspection regimes for taxis and PHCs:

a.     First, we will extend the statutory lifespan of taxis to 10 years, up from the current eight years. We can do this as our taxi fleet is highly roadworthy. In 2023, taxis have a first inspection passing rate, or FIPR, of 99.5%, well above the 98% passing standard for taxi operators. Extending the statutory lifespan will allow taxi operators to spread the vehicle cost over a longer period of time. LTA will work with taxi operators to ensure that cost savings are passed to drivers. 

b.     Second, for taxis less than three years old, we will reduce inspection frequency from once every six months to once a year, to reduce the downtime. These newer taxis are very well maintained, with an FIPR of 99.8% in 2023. 

c.     Third, for PHCs that are more than 10 years old, we will increase inspection frequency to half-yearly, up from yearly currently. In 2023, among PHCs aged above 10 years old, the FIPR was 84.5%. The higher inspection frequency will ensure that older PHCs are roadworthy to serve commuters.

d.     Fourth, we will gradually remove the call-booking requirement for smaller taxi operators, given the high cost relative to the low utilisation rate. We are mindful that a small segment of commuters, comprising about 1% of P2P trips, still rely on this service. Hence, ComfortDelGro, which currently fulfils more than 99% of call-booking trips, will continue to offer this service. 

20.    Another important way to ensure the supply of taxis is to maintain the pool of Taxi Driver’s Vocational Licencees, or TDVL, as they can choose to drive either taxis or PHCs. In our engagements, drivers gave feedback that they found it easier to obtain a PHC Driver’s Vocational Licence. To encourage more prospective P2P drivers to take up the TDVL, we will streamline the curriculum to reduce effort and cost to obtain the licence. 

Improving the reliability of P2P services 

21.    Even as we improve supply, we recognise that more commuters and drivers have come to rely on P2P operators for their commutes and livelihoods. To minimise the impact on commuters and drivers due to service disruptions or operators exiting the market, we will introduce two new sets of measures: 

a.     First, we will introduce baseline standards for operational disruptions. We will require operators to inform LTA, commuters, and drivers upon confirmation of any systemic incident that could impair P2P services within an hour. They will also be required to submit an incident report outlining measures taken to resolve the incident. Further, ride-hail operators will need to develop and regularly review their contingency plans to mitigate future incidents. 

b.     Second, we will double the notification period for P2P operators that intend to exit the market. P2P operators will have to provide an exit plan to LTA at least 120 days before surrendering their licence, up from the current 60 days. In addition, operators will need to inform the public at least 60 days prior to their licence surrender date. This will provide sufficient time for commuters and drivers to cash out their electronic wallets and transit to other platforms.

Enhancing the inclusivity of P2P services 

22.    We are also working on how ride-hail services can better cater to the needs of wheelchair users and families with young children. 

a.     Currently, all taxis are able to fit a foldable wheelchair. They are also exempt from child seat requirements so that families with young children can street-hail a taxi. As PHCs are always pre-booked, commuters can indicate their needs in advance. Hence, PHCs are not required to be able to accommodate a wheelchair, and are not exempted from child seat requirements. This sometimes causes friction and inconvenience between wheelchair users or families with the matched PHC drivers.

b.     We will work with ride-hail operators to make it easy for commuters to indicate that they have a foldable wheelchair or require a child seat when booking a trip. Currently, not all ride-hail apps provide these options upfront, and commuters have to make a separate request which might be missed. 

c.     We will also require ride-hail apps to indicate if a matched vehicle can accommodate a foldable wheelchair or carries a child seat. This will apply to all bookings, so that commuters with such needs are alerted and can cancel and rebook an appropriate vehicle if they forget to request for one.

d.     If in spite of these measures, PHCs with insufficient boot space or no child seat are matched to commuters with such needs, operators will allow drivers to cancel the booking without penalising them.

e.     Taken together, these measures will benefit both commuters and drivers. For commuters, it will be easier to indicate their needs and rebook an appropriate vehicle if wrongly matched. Drivers will be allowed to cancel a booking without incurring a penalty if the commuter had omitted to indicate their needs, or booked the wrong service. This helps to avoid misunderstanding and inconvenience to both drivers and commuters. The changes will be implemented towards the end of this year, as part of operators’ licence renewal. We will also monitor the matching rate for such commuters, and the availability of PHCs that meets their needs. 

23.    Our work does not end here. The P2P sector will continue to complement public transport. We have heard other feedback relating to the longer-term stability of P2P supply, including the suggestion for a separate COE category for PHCs from Mr Gan Thiam Poh and other members of this House. While this is possible, there are trade-offs that need to be studied carefully.

24.    We will address this and other concerns in the next phase of the P2P review later this year. For example, we intend to work with ride-hail operators to make their apps more senior-friendly, and explore providing pick-up points that both taxis and PHCs can use. Finally, we will look at whether operators with larger market share should be subject to higher regulatory standards, to continue safeguarding the interests of commuters and drivers. 

Fostering responsible charging behaviour for electric vehicles

25.    Mr Ang Wei Neng, Mr Lim Biow Chuan, Ms Poh Li San, and Ms Yeo Wan Ling asked for updates on EVs. Minister had earlier shared our good progress in EV adoption and charging availability. As EV users increase, we must shape a gracious EV culture early, by fostering good charging and parking practices. On this, I had a fruitful discussion in January with EV drivers, EV charging operators, or EVCOs, and carpark owners. Concerns were raised on the misuse of EV charging lots by non-EVs, and the hogging of lots. 

26.    Carpark owners and EVCOs have taken steps to address these concerns. For example, at public carparks, parking a non-EV in an EV lot is an offence which incurs a penalty of $70. Some EVCOs have started to notify users when their vehicles are fully charged and another vehicle is waiting, and impose idle fees for lot hogging after charging. 

27.    Several interesting issues and suggestions were raised, such as allowing drivers to reserve charging lots in advance. Many also agreed that drivers should not be expected to shift their vehicles for overnight charging. 

28.    Stakeholders felt that more public education would encourage drivers and the motor industry to switch to EVs. This includes educating users that charging an EV beyond 80% becomes less efficient, and that users can charge EVs based around their daily schedules, at their workplace and homes. 

29.    LTA will collate and share these insights as educational materials later this year, to enhance general knowledge of EVs and instil good EV charging behaviour. We will work with the industry to review other suggestions to enhance the EV experience. 


30.    Chairman, in Mandarin, please. 

31.    交通部将拨出十亿元来扩大“安行街道”计划并建造更多的通勤基础设施。在居民的支持下,我们打算在2030年前把该计划扩展到全岛所有市镇,让居民在邻里出行时感到更安全、更便捷,也更舒适。接下来,我们将在十个邻里增设“安行街道”,并预计在今年内与居民以及社区伙伴进行对话和讨论。此外,我们也将多管齐下,在未来的十年里加强我国的通勤基础设施。我们会建造更多有盖走廊,在更多巴士站增添亲乐龄设施,以及在更多座行人天桥安装电梯,好让居民们,尤其是乐龄人士,残疾人士,和有年幼儿童的家庭享有更安全,更便捷,也更舒适的出行体验。 

32.    除了改善基础设施,我们也检讨了点对点载客服务业。在其中的过程中,就注意到越来越多乘客更偏向于使用召车应用程序叫车。不过,在满足乘客需求方面,德士服务仍然扮演着重要的角色,尤其是对于科技较生疏的年长者,或是比较习惯截德士的乘客而言。有鉴于此,我们将推出一系列措施以降低德士营运成本,好让德士业者能为乘客继续提供服务。这就包括延长德士的法定使用年限,以及减少对于新的德士进行例常车辆检查的次数。德士司机们,我们会和各家德士公司紧密合作,把节省下来的成本与你们分享。而乘客们,我们希望今天宣布的一系列措施能确保我国的德士服务供应稳定,为大家带来更佳的乘车体验。

33.    Chairman, in conclusion, we will continue to work towards our goal of a more inclusive and friendly transport system, by transforming our streets, improving P2P services, and fostering responsible EV charging behaviour. 

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