Speech by Minister for Transport Mr S Iswaran at Land Transport Industry Day 2022

02 Sep 2022Speeches

Fellow Stakeholders of our Land Transport System

Ladies and Gentlemen 

1.     On behalf of the Land Transport Authority and the Ministry of Transport, welcome to our third Land Transport Industry Day.  I am really happy to finally see all our industry partners and leaders in person. The pandemic, as you know, has been a severe test for our land transport industry partners and frontline workers.  Your resilience and resolve have enabled us to keep Singapore and Singaporeans moving, through even the most difficult of circumstances. 

2.     Today, our public transport ridership has recovered to about 80% of pre-pandemic levels, while maintaining service and reliability standards. This recovery underscores the resilience of our public transport system, and it was possible only because of the close collaboration among workers, the industry and the Government. So, on this third Land Transport Industry Day, I would like to begin by expressing my deep appreciation to all of you for soldiering on and for the collective effort that has helped us pull through the course of the pandemic – thank you very much.

3.     As we emerge from the pandemic, it is essential that we also look to the future and prepare for the challenges that loom ahead of us. Chief among these is climate change and the urgent need for action.  This is especially salient for all of us in the land transport system because it accounts for 15% of emissions in Singapore.  Our collective efforts therefore can have a significant impact in ensuring a sustainable Singapore while contributing to global climate action efforts.

Enhancing Public Transport and Active Commutes

4.     So what can we do?  Public transport is central to our efforts and promoting it has been an endeavour we have been engaged in over the decades.

5.     The environmental benefits are compelling. Compared to driving an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, taking an electric bus reduces our carbon footprint by about 70%; almost 90% if we use the MRT.  

6.     The Government has been investing heavily in the capacity and reliability of our public transport system, to make it more convenient and inclusive.  The work has been unrelenting throughout the pandemic.  By the end of this year, 11 more stations under stage 3 of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) will commence passenger services. Over the next decade, with the completion of the TEL, Jurong Regional Line and Cross Island Line, our rail network would have expanded by 50% to 360km.  The RTS Link project with Johor is also due for service commencement by the end of 2026. The progress has been sustained and the momentum has been good despite the pandemic.

7.     With these enhancements, we aim for 9 in 10 peak-period walk, cycle or ride journeys to be completed under 45 minutes, by the year 2040.  And we are well on track – the proportion of such journeys completed within 45 minutes has increased from 66% in 2019 to 71% in 2021. 

8.     Many Singaporeans have also taken to active mobility modes like walking and cycling, especially because of the pandemic. As more Singaporeans adopt active lifestyles and lower their carbon footprint, we want to support this trend by expanding our cycling infrastructure.  By 2030, we will have about 1,300km of cycling paths, connecting people to public transport nodes and local amenities. To meet the diverse needs of cyclists, we are also developing longer trunk routes across the city, as well as scenic routes in our parks. 

9.     As more of us choose public transport and active mobility, our experiences as commuters will be defined not just by the infrastructure, but also by our interactions with one another. Acts of graciousness and kindness will go a long way in making our daily journeys more inclusive and pleasant. The Public Transport Council, working with many community partners, has been focused on this. And all of us can help to foster such a caring commuter culture.  

Growing the EV Ecosystem

10.    Let me now turn to vehicles on the road. The adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is another key thrust for greening the land transport sector.  We have set out our vision to achieve 100% cleaner-energy vehicles by 2040.  This is a tall order as it entails a major transition away from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles towards EVs and other cleaner-energy vehicles. It has significant implications for enterprises as well as workers in the sector. The government is actively facilitating the growth of the EV ecosystem through four key thrusts. 

11.    First, we are narrowing the cost differential between ICE vehicles and EVs through various incentives, such as the EV Early Adoption Incentive and the Vehicular Emissions Scheme.  We have also reduced road taxes for some mass market EV models. These moves helped to lower the upfront as well as the recurrent costs of owning an EV.

12.   Second, we are developing legislation and regulations to ensure public safety and facilitate the building of a reliable and efficient EV charging network. I want to thank all members of the public as well as industry players who participated in the month-long public consultation in June on a draft Bill to regulate EV charging. We will carefully study and incorporate the feedback in the proposed legislation.  LTA will issue a more detailed response later today.

13.    In tandem with strengthening regulations, we also wish to encourage innovation in this nascent sector. We have therefore established regulatory sandboxes, so that leading-edge urban mobility solutions that meet our safety baselines can be tested in Singapore, in a careful and controlled manner. Two EV charging sandboxes are already in operation: Tesla’s superchargers, and the pantograph chargers for public buses.  To build on this, LTA has been engaging industry players across the spectrum on more of such initiatives.

14.    In that regard, today, I am pleased to share with you that we will be launching two sandboxes on battery swapping solutions for electric motorcycles. Gogoro will be partnering Jardine Cycle & Carriage to deploy two Battery Charge and Swap Stations. These will allow depleted electric motorcycle batteries to be swapped with fully charged ones in a matter of seconds.  In addition, MO Batteries  will be partnering Singapore Post and Prosegur Singapore to roll out a trial, where MO Batteries will charge detachable electric motorcycle batteries on their premises, and deliver these fully charged batteries to Battery Store and Swap Stations located at their partners’ premises. With the growing range of charging solutions, we hope to encourage the adoption of more electric motorcycle models in Singapore. And LTA is continuing its engagement with several industry players on more of such pilot sandboxes.

15.   The third strategy is to accelerate the deployment of the national EV charging network. We will make every HDB town EV-ready by 2025, by installing charging points in nearly 2,000 HDB carparks over the next three to four years. There has been strong interest in the recently launched tender for HDB carpark charging points, and it will be awarded in the next few months.  Apart from HDB car parks, we have also introduced the EV Common Charger Grant to encourage more private premises like condominiums to install charging points.

16.    Last, and critically, we are preparing our workforce for the EV transition. And we are doing so in close partnership with the industry and the institutes of higher learning. This transition will bring opportunities and jobs for our workers, who will also need to be equipped with new skillsets.  And while the journey will take many years, we need to start investing in skills upgrading now. I am pleased to launch the National EV Safety Specialist Certification Programme today. This is the first step in equipping workshop technicians with the skills to work safely in an EV environment.  Technicians can sign up for subsidised courses and obtain the certification under the Workforce Skills Qualification framework developed by SkillsFuture Singapore. Three of these courses from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and ITE are now open for enrolment. 

17.    Complementing the new certification, LTA is also partnering Workforce Singapore (WSG) to offer salary support for workshop technicians who are training under the WSG Career Conversion Programme for Sustainability Professionals. So I want to encourage all employers to take full advantage of this programme to prepare your workers for this transition.

18.   More broadly, to help guide decisions on upskilling and training our land transport workers, LTA has published the Land Transport Jobs Transformation Map with support from WSG and the Ministry of Manpower.  Our hope is that this will serve as a useful reference point for all industry players and partners, as we work together to ensure that our workforce is future-ready, with the appropriate courses and skills upgrading.

19.    Indeed, all of you, our industry partners, play a pivotal role in each of these four strategies that I have outlined. While the Government can map out the vision and put in place enabling frameworks in consultation with all stakeholders, ultimately it is your efforts that will drive the transition and make our vision a reality.  

Launch of Forward Singapore Transport Engagements

20.    More broadly, our land transport system today is the culmination of bold decisions by the Government, a resourceful private sector, a skilled workforce, and most importantly, the daily commuting choices of each and every one of us over the past several decades.  Our MRT system is a case in point.  The Government decided to invest in the MRT system in the 1980s – though it came at a high cost, we decided that an all-bus system would not be feasible over the long-term.  Over the years, the industry developed its capabilities, and our workers their talent, to run and maintain the system, and improve service standards. And many Singaporeans choose it as their preferred mode of commuting today. 

21.    The evolution of our land transport system has been marked by a series of informed ‘Choices’ at every level – from the Government and enterprise, to the worker, commuter and citizen.  To be meaningful and sustainable, these ‘Choices’ must be predicated on a careful evaluation of the ‘Cost’ – not just the financial or fiscal, but also the opportunities that may be foregone as a result of these choices.  Today, this ‘Choice’/‘Cost’ matrix must be augmented by a third dimension which is ‘Climate’.  With the existential threat of climate change, we must address the environmental impact of the choices we face for our transport system. 

22.    So, to build a land transport system that meets the evolving needs of our society, we must decide on the choices we want to make, understand the costs and trade-offs they entail; agree on how these costs are to be borne; while stewarding and safeguarding our shared environmental and fiscal resources.  We need conversations about our respective roles and responsibilities in this endeavour – whether as a commuter or taxpayer, as a motorist or a cyclist, as an industry player or government regulator.  In other words, we need to come together to forge a renewed social compact on urban mobility, to build a transport system that meets the needs and aspirations of Singaporeans today, as well as those of our future generations.

23.    DPM Lawrence Wong has announced the Forward Singapore exercise under which the 4G team will work with Singaporeans to review and refresh our social compact, and chart a roadmap for the next few decades.  The future of our land transport system is an integral part of this exercise, under the Build pillar of Forward Singapore.  Our goal is to forge a renewed compact for land transport, guided by the key imperatives of Choice, Cost and Climate.  My colleagues and I, at the Ministry of Transport and the Land Transport Authority, will be facilitating a series of engagements over the next few months to hear from Singaporeans.  We hope that Singaporeans from all walks of life, with diverse needs and aspirations, will step forward to share your thoughts and your ideas. 

24.    The resilience and mettle of our land transport system has been tested and proven during the pandemic over the past two years.  And I am confident that together, we can build an even better, stronger and more sustainable land transport system in Singapore, for all of us.

25.     I wish all of you a very productive day ahead. Thank you.


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