SINGAPORE: A 45-minute commute to work, and 20 minutes to reach amenities within residential towns.
These are some of the goals proposed for the Land Transport Master Plan 2040 – and they were shared by several members of its advisory panel at a focus group discussion on Saturday (Jan 12).
In August 2018, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) launched a public engagement exercise to canvass feedback on the masterplan.
The LTA sought feedback on three broad themes: How to encourage commuters to use public transport as a preferred mode of travel; how to create more inclusive commutes; and how to improve quality of life through public transport.
In the masterplan, public transport is envisioned as a transport mix termed as Walk-Cycle-Ride. This would include buses, rail, taxis and private hire cars, and active mobility devices such as bicycles and e-scooters.
On Saturday, advisory panel member Mr Melvin Yong presented a vision for residents to have access to a variety of options that will be fast, convenient and well-connected to get to their destination.
PROPOSED GOALS FOR COMMUTING TIMES
Dubbed a "45-minute city with 20-minute towns", he elaborated that the aim would be for 9 in 10 of all peak hour Walk-Cycle-Ride journeys to the city centre to be made in 45 minutes.
Mr Yong, a Member of Parliament who also serves as the executive secretary of the National Transport Workers’ Union, added that Walk-Cycle-Ride journeys (comprising active mobility options, taxis and private hire cars, buses and the MRT) currently account for 71 per cent of such peak hour journeys. The remainder is undertaken via private vehicles.
The second part of this vision would see 9 in 10 people getting to their nearest neighbourhood centre and amenities through Walk-Cycle-Ride modes in less than 20 minutes.
To achieve this vision, Mr Yong suggested that more dedicated bus lanes and cycling paths could be created to prioritise transit.
He also said LTA could work on technological means to achieve this, such as a single payment and booking platform to unify the many different modes of transport and make them equally accessible to all.
A third strategy would be to bring work and play closer to home through changes in urban planning and land use. For instance, there could be more regional mixed-use centres where people can live, work and play without having to make commutes to the city centre.
“Personally, I think this could be a game changer,” said Mr Yong. “Because it will make commuting more convenient. It will also make cycling and walking more feasible.”
Mr Yong added to journalists that this vision for increased public transport use will see more jobs for transport workers in the future.
“The current nature of jobs may change, but the total number of jobs will continue to grow as more people make use of public transport to get to their destinations,” he said.
A MORE INCLUSIVE AND HEALTHY TRANSPORT SYSTEM
Meanwhile, Mr Richard Magnus, who is also the chairman of the Public Transport Council, shared a vision of a more gracious commuting culture, suggesting ways to encourage members of the public to look out for one another.
He added that more “inclusive infrastructure” can be built to help people move around independently, including for those who do not understand English, the elderly, those with limited vision and hearing, and those who are wheelchair-bound.
Associate Professor Faishal Ibrahim, who is also the chairperson of the active mobility advisory panel, shared strategies to encourage greater uptake of healthier modes of travel; how to create safer streets with fewer accidents; and a clean environment with more green vehicles.
BALANCING COMPETING NEEDS
Fifty focus group discussion participants then discussed ways on how to balance conflicting priorities within these themes.
For instance, how to strike a balance between faster journeys and inclusivity, which may require buses and trains to spend longer time at stops to let the less mobile members of society board safely.
There are also competing land use needs, which may see car lanes sacrificed for bus lanes and cycling paths.
More than 7,000 members of the public and industry players have given their views on what the land transport system ought to look like in the future, LTA said.
Saturday’s focus group discussion marked the end of the public consultation.
The Land Transport Master Plan 2040 advisory panel will make its recommendations to the Government by mid-February.