SINGAPORE: Local commuters definitely have plenty to say about public transport in Singapore, as well as many suggestions on how to improve it.
This can be seen from the more than 7,000 responses given at the public discussions on the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) Land Transport Master Plan (LTMP) 2040 that have been conducted since August 2018.
But according to Dr Janil Puthucheary, what stood out for him from the five-month public consultation exercise was people’s recognition of their own roles in ensuring pleasant and enjoyable daily public transport experiences for everyone.
The Senior Minister of State for Transport, Communications and Information, who also heads the LTMP advisory panel, was struck by how the respondents wanted to see more graciousness and considerate commuter behavior.
“It was a significant part of almost every discussion we had,” said Dr Puthucheary recently in an interview with Mediacorp’s 938NOW.
“People kept suggesting, 'Can we be more gracious? Can we give way more often? Can we help each other?'
“People came to the conclusion that actually, if we’re gracious and give way a little bit, that achieves a lot that infrastructure cannot.”
“It’s definitely the first step,” he said.
“I mean, if people don’t think this is something important, we have no chance of making this happen.”
The fact that people want it indicates that things are improving even though, he noted, “we still have some way to go as well.”
The public consultation exercise revealed another finding - that Singapore commuters want more seamless transport options.
This ties in with the LTA advisory panel’s vision of developing its Walk Cycle Ride transport mix in which 90 per cent of residents will walk, take public transport and private hire cars, and use personal mobility devices to get from one point to another.
The panel envisions a future where residents will be able to – using these shared transport modes – get to their nearest neighbourhood centre by 20 minutes and travel to town in under 45 minutes.
“Basically they want their journeys to be faster, smoother and more pleasant,” said Dr Puthucheary.
“And they want many choices – the option to go in this way, or by bus today, an MRT tomorrow, and maybe a shared car journey another day.”
To get there, he said, the Government will keep improving and building on its infrastructure network.
For example, new rail lines such as the Thomson-East Coast line that is currently under construction, and the upcoming Cross Island Line, will strengthen the backbone of Singapore’s transport infrastructure.
And even though the recently-completed five-year S$1.1 billion Bus Service Enhancement Programme has expanded bus capacity, and resulted in more frequent and comfortable bus trips and shorter waiting times, Dr Puthucheary said more remains to be done.
“Quite a lot of the information and suggestions we got from our focus group discussions was about how we can optimise the bus experience as well as the bus network,” he told 938NOW.
Singapore also needs to invest in its transport workers and give them the recognition and support they need to deliver a well-functioning transport system.
“Public transport workers are quite well-trained and need to continue to be well-trained, not just in looking after disabled commuters, but everybody” said Dr Puthucheary.
“But we also have a part to play in helping them do that.
“They will need training and reskilling as our land transport system changes, and we should commit to doing so and supporting them.”
The LTMP 2040 panel will submit the compiled feedback and recommendations to the Government this month.
Dr Janil was speaking to 938NOW via the new weekly interview series “Question Time” which airs every Friday. To listen to the interview, go to Facebook.com/938Now/ or download the MeRadio app.