In Parliament

Speech by Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Amy Khor at the Ministry of Transport Committee of Supply Debate 2023 on Building a Community-Centric Transport System

03 Mar 2023In Parliament

1.     Chairman, I will elaborate on how we will put the community at the centre of our efforts to improve our land transport system. 

Section 1: Enhancing our transport infrastructure for more pleasant Walk-Cycle-Ride journeys

2.     A journey is not just about getting from one place to another. The experience, safety and convenience matter too. During our Forward Singapore engagements, participants shared their aspirations for better connectivity, walkability and more inclusive transport infrastructure. We have made good progress in these areas, and plan to do more. 

Silver Zones

3.     Ms Nadia Ahmad Samdin will be glad to know that we have implemented 27 Silver Zones so far, and are on track to complete 50 by 2025. Overall, the accident rate for senior pedestrians across all Silver Zones has reduced by 80 per cent. 

4.     Building on residents’ feedback, future Silver Zones will have even more safety measures, including Y-junctions, which create a gradual bend so that motorists slow down when approaching the junction. 

Pedestrian Overhead Bridges

5.     Besides these zones, we are also improving infrastructure for pedestrians to safely cross our roads. 

6.     As Ms Hany Soh highlighted, we have been retrofitting existing pedestrian overhead bridges, or POBs, with lifts since 2013. So far, we have completed retrofitting 77 POBs with lifts and will continue with 30 more. We prioritised POBs near major transport nodes and healthcare institutions so that the lifts will benefit commuters with mobility challenges. 

7.     As our population ages, the need for more POBs to be retrofitted with lifts will grow. We are thus looking to launch a new phase to retrofit over 110 more existing POBs with lifts. 

Road Repurposing Projects

8.     Beyond safer road crossing infrastructure, we saw the opportunity to convert some existing road space into footpaths, cycling paths or bus lanes – to make it even safer for the community, and improve connectivity. We identified 60 such potential road repurposing projects. 

9.     Ms Yeo Wan Ling and Ms Poh Li San asked for an update. So far, we have been working on four projects, done through extensive consultation with local stakeholders. We completed projects in Havelock Road and Civic District in 2021, and will complete permanent repurposing works at Kampung Admiralty and Tiong Bahru this year.

10.    At Kampung Admiralty, when we complete the pedestrianisation of a section of Woodlands Ring Road this month, residents can reach the neighbourhood centre more comfortably, via covered linkways and widened footpaths. A new bus stop has also been added, and from next year, more segments of cycling paths will be ready as part of the wider Woodlands network.

11.    At Tiong Bahru, we have worked on pedestrianising and widening footpaths along various streets. Throughout the process, we engaged local stakeholders and residents, and will incorporate some of their ideas into the final design, such as creating open spaces for community activities. These enhancements will be completed by June.

12.    We will also start two new repurposing projects in the second half of this year – at Yung Sheng Road, and Choa Chu Kang Terrace. Pedestrianising Yung Sheng Road will enhance pedestrian safety and accessibility between the Taman Jurong Shopping Centre, Market and Food Centre, whilst pedestrianising Choa Chu Kang Terrace will make walking to Sunshine Place neighbourhood centre and the upcoming Jurong Region Line more pleasant. We will continue community engagements to implement more such projects.

Friendly Streets

13.    Beyond LTA-led projects, LTA has been working alongside other agencies on larger-scale urban rejuvenation. One example is the public-private partnership to revitalise Tanjong Pagar, which Mr Cheng Hsing Yao has asked about. As part of the effort, LTA has worked with URA and commercial stakeholders to identify and build new pedestrian crossings and cycling paths, and widen some footpaths in the precinct.

14.    I visited the area recently and met teachers and children from a childcare centre at Tanjong Pagar Plaza. The teachers told me that the children loved playing at a nearby eco-playground, but it was previously very challenging for them to bring the children there due to safety concerns. As part of the rejuvenation project, LTA built new crossings along Tanjong Pagar Road and Tras Street. 

15.    The teachers shared that it is much safer now to walk with the children to the playground, while allowing the children to expand their learning beyond the classroom. These changes go beyond making Tanjong Pagar safer for the young, they also bring the community together. As a colleague noted, “To LTA, it is a crossing. But to the kids, it is many memories.” 

16.    We will continue to work with stakeholders in Tanjong Pagar to identify and repurpose more stretches of roads, to create more space for placemaking and complement the wider urban rejuvenation. 

17.    It is clear that our roads and paths are not just conduits for vehicles and people. They make our towns safer and more vibrant. More importantly, over time, they impact the way Singaporeans interact with each other – taking care of more vulnerable users, being more gracious to one another.

18.    This is why we are launching the Friendly Streets initiative – to harness the potential of our streets to connect people, activate spaces, and strengthen the sense of local identity. 

19.    The Friendly Streets initiative builds on LTA’s existing efforts to prioritise road space for active mobility, public transport and community uses. This includes Silver and School Zones, Road Repurposing and added features to collectively support more inclusive, people-friendly neighbourhoods and gracious communities. These will be in high-activity areas and near key amenities in our towns. 

20.    Streets will be made people-friendly in two main ways: First, by creating a pleasant, inclusive, and green environment, with widened footpaths, greenery, barrier-free crossings, and road markings to inform road users that they are in a Friendly Streets zone. Second, by facilitating more direct and safer journeys to amenities and transport nodes, by implementing more pedestrian crossings where there are natural pedestrian flows, and reducing pedestrians’ waiting time to cross the road.

21.    While there will be some common features for Friendly Streets, we hope to have designs unique to each area, co-created with the community. We will form a Friendly Streets Committee in each locality to spearhead this effort.

22.    For a start, we will pilot the Friendly Streets initiative around some streets in five locations – Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Batok West, Tampines, Toa Payoh, and West Coast. 

23.    As you enter a Friendly Streets zone, you will be greeted by specially designed signages and on-road markings. This encourages all to be more aware and look out for others. The streetscapes will also be filled with more greenery, and we will consider upgrading bus stops where possible. As you move down the street, you will see more people-friendly features, such as pedestrian crossings and cycling paths designed to be used by all. 

24.    And as you cross the road and enjoy your safer, smoother and greener journey to the Teck Ghee neighbourhood centre, you will likely meet a neighbour or a friend, and we hope we all greet one another with a friendly smile. 

25.    Chairman and members, this is but a simple example, because we are looking forward to co-designing the details with local stakeholders and bringing in their suggestions for their own neighbourhoods. Engagements for Friendly Streets in these five locations will start this year, with the pilots targeted to be realised by 2025. Together, we will not just build roads, but also memories.

Enhancing safety for worker transport 

26.    Moving to Mr Melvin Yong’s suggestion on only allowing lorries fitted with seat belts on the rear deck to be sold in Singapore, as previously shared, original equipment manufacturers had concerns that seatbelts on rear seats create new safety risks. As the chassis and rear deck of lorries are separately put together, they will not be strong enough to anchor seat belts. There are also liability issues – OEMs will not fit seat belts onto the rear deck of new lorries, nor vouch for the safety of such lorries.

27.    On phasing out lorries that can ferry workers on the rear deck as the lorries’ COE expire, this could be disruptive for many industries. I would like to clarify that many lorries with COEs expiring within the next 5 years will not have reached the end of their statutory lifespan of 20 years. Owners may choose to renew the COE, and over 60 per cent of lorries with COEs that expired in 2022 had their COEs renewed. 

Section 2: Growing our charging network to support electric vehicles

28.    Our Walk-Cycle-Ride vision remains at the heart of our future land transport system. Still, we understand that some need a car for various reasons. When private transport is required, we encourage drivers to choose cleaner energy vehicles, especially electric vehicles, or EVs. 

29.    We have been making steady progress to make charging points more accessible and reduce range anxiety among potential EV drivers. To Prof Koh Lian Pin’s question, there are over 3,800 charging points island-wide today, up from 1,500 in 2019. This includes around 1,600 publicly accessible and 1,200 private charging points, with the remainder for BlueSG users only.  

30.    The EV Common Charger Grant was launched in July 2021 to co-fund charger installation costs in private condominiums. To date, LTA has co-funded 267 chargers in 107 condominiums. 

31.    I am pleased to announce that we will extend the EV Common Charger Grant for another two years, to December 2025. The extension complements recent amendments to the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act, that make it easier to pass resolutions to install chargers, and further boost charger deployment. 

32.    LTA and URA awarded a pilot tender in 2021 to deploy more than 600 charging points in over 200 public carparks. I am happy to announce that all of them will be installed by the end of this month. Building on this experience, LTA launched a large-scale tender last year to deploy 12,000 more EV charging points at around 2,000 HDB carparks in the next three years. The five successful tenderers will simultaneously install chargers all across Singapore. Responding to Mr Gan Thiam Poh, these charging points will support charging needs of both electric cars and electric motorcycles.

33.    Regarding the usage of charging points, utilisation rates for EV charging points under the pilot tender are around 8 per cent on average over the last month. This is within expectations, because the Government is frontloading charger deployment in the early years of EV adoption, to give drivers the assurance to choose EVs. LTA works closely with EV charging operators to plan charger deployment based on local demand – to deploy slightly ahead of expected demand, but not over-deploy.

34.    Ms Poh asked about the costs of EV charger deployment. For the tenders at public carparks, EV charging operators bear the cost of the charging equipment. LTA, EMA and HDB are conducting an advanced engineering study to assess the electrical upgrades required to support residential EV charging. The Government will bear the cost of these upgrades, and eventually recover this cost through a tariff on EV charging operators and users. 

35.    The deployment of EV charging points on the ground will be planned and managed by EVe, a fully-owned subsidiary of LTA. We have also convened the EV Steering Group, an inter-agency committee to coordinate the Government’s charger deployment policy across key agencies, such as LTA, HDB, BCA and EMA. This Steering Group, co-chaired by SPS Baey and myself, will focus on three ‘C’s. 

36.    First, capacity. Most of the charging points that we are deploying island-wide will be slow chargers at residential estates. However, we are also exploring where fast chargers can be deployed to provide an option for high-mileage users such as taxi drivers, who may need top-ups on the go. 

37.    The ramp up in charging points is necessary to serve Singapore’s growing EV population, especially among light goods vehicles, or LGVs. Last year, electric or e-LGVs, accounted for over 30 per cent of new LGV registrations. This suggests that existing incentives, such as the Commercial Vehicle Emissions and Early Turnover Schemes, are effective. As e-LGVs have lower operating costs than diesel LGVs, many fleet owners have realised that it is cheaper to operate an e-LGV over its lifecycle. For heavier vehicles, we will engage fleet owners to see how we can facilitate their transition to a greener fleet. Dedicated charging infrastructure will likely be needed.  

38.    The second ‘C’ – culture. LTA has been engaging EV drivers on their driving and charging experiences and is working with operators to foster socially responsible EV charging norms. Many EV charging operators today are considering measures to deter lot-hogging, such as idle fees. 

39.    But we must do more to develop gracious charging etiquette among EV users. LTA is planning a citizen engagement exercise to develop ground-up recommendations on nurturing good charging culture. 

40.    The third ‘C’ – capability. We will support the industry in training the workforce in areas such as EV charging standards. Our Steering Group, together with EVe, will engage industry stakeholders and the public to support a safe and sustainable EV transition.

Section 3: Working with point-to-point and carsharing providers to enhance alternative transport options


41.    Chairman, I will now move to point-to-point or P2P transport, which plays an integral role in complementing other transport modes. 

42.    As Ms Yeo noted, the P2P sector and drivers’ livelihoods were significantly impacted during the pandemic. But as Singapore transitioned towards an endemic COVID norm, P2P trips recovered to about 80 per cent of pre-COVID levels in 2022. In addition, fuel prices moderated over 2022, mitigating the impact of GST on driver costs. With this ridership recovery, P2P drivers have seen improved earnings, and incomes returning to pre-COVID levels. 

43.    Whilst demand for P2P services has increased, there are now fewer P2P drivers, as some had left the sector during the pandemic. The number of monthly active P2P drivers dropped from around 69,000 pre-COVID to 55,000 in Q4 2022. The decline is steeper for taxi drivers as there are around 9,000 fewer active drivers compared to pre-COVID, and many who left were two-shift drivers who would drive night or weekend shifts. 

44.    Hence with fewer P2P drivers available, riders experience high surge fares and longer waiting times especially during the late evening or night. Mr Gan Thiam Poh and Mr Mark Chay asked for an update. The tight supply of P2P drivers reflects the manpower shortage in many sectors post-COVID, and the industry will require time to adjust to demand for P2P rides. 

45.    For now, P2P operators have shared that they are recruiting more new drivers. Operators are also rolling out features such as ‘hotspot navigation’ to alert drivers to areas with more booking requests to better match demand and supply. Some have reintroduced ride-sharing services, where riders going to similar destinations can share a ride and be served by one driver. This allows the existing, limited pool of drivers to serve more riders.

46.    Nonetheless, we have seen an increase in P2P Vocational Licence applications in the past year with 950 new applications per month in 2022, up from about 650 per month in 2021. On the Government’s part, LTA will work with operators to reduce the time to process Vocational Licence applications.

47.    As operators tackle new challenges faced by the sector, we will continue working with industry stakeholders and drivers to address issues – ensuring driver livelihoods, addressing P2P availability, and looking ahead to shifts in the sector’s landscape. 


48.    Over time, we have seen structural shifts in the needs of our land transport system. During our Forward Singapore engagements, we heard some youth share aspirations to have the option to use a car, without necessarily owning a car. As Ms Poh shared, carsharing may be an option for people who only require a private vehicle from time to time. Carsharing refers to the short-term leasing of cars, typically for less than a day. There are several operators, like Getgo and BlueSG.  

49.    Based on preliminary engagements with operators last year, we understand there is growing demand for carsharing. With over 5,000 shared cars throughout Singapore today, operators plan to expand their fleets further to meet expected demand.

50.    As carsharing can add to our mix of connectivity options for occasional car users, LTA will be further studying carsharing. LTA will work with operators to better understand the needs and potential role of the industry. We will share more when ready. 


51.    Chairman, in conclusion, we look forward to working with the community to co-create Friendly Streets, making our towns safer and more vibrant. As we reimagine our road space, we also encourage the use of more sustainable alternatives such as EVs, and shared modes of transport. Through these initiatives, we can work together to create a more people-centric land transport system for all.

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