SINGAPORE: The Government is studying how best to implement priority boarding at MRT stations and bus interchanges as part of its plans to build an inclusive public transport system, according to Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min.
Dr Lam elaborated that the Government is looking at priority boarding “not just for the elderly, but also for family members with young children and strollers”.
While such initiatives will come at a cost, he said these are “important investments that the Government will put in, to make our transport system as inclusive as possible”.
Dr Lam was responding to questions from listeners during 938NOW’s TalkBack programme on Thursday morning (May 10).
In its addendum to the President’s address, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) had said it will provide all Singaporeans with good transport connectivity regardless of their mobility needs.
Dr Lam said his ministry is studying the recommendations by the Family-Friendly Advisory Panel, which had engaged diverse commuter groups, including families with young children, to understand their needs.
For example, one listener suggested having bus captains drive closer to the kerb at bus stops, to make it easier for the elderly to board buses. Dr Lam said training drivers to do this is “perfectly doable”.
MOT also said it is expanding the rail network by 130km, and that it is on track to bring eight in 10 households within a 10-minute walk of a train station by 2030.
“We’re expanding our rail network to 360km … and you’ll see the number of stations increase to about 270 by 2030. The density of this network will be ahead of both Tokyo and New York,” said Dr Lam.
“If you look at the number of lines that we’re building in the coming years, this is going to build not only capacity, but also resilience of our rail network. It will help shorten travelling time, and ease congestion on some of the major MRT lines that we’re facing today.”
FIRST- AND LAST-MILE CONNECTIVITY
Besides improving rail connectivity, Dr Lam said the government is also looking at first- and last-mile connectivity. “The Ministry of Transport will strive to make everyone’s journey as comfortable as possible, starting right from your doorstep,” he said.
Active mobility devices, such as bicycles and e-scooters, are very much part of these plans.
“We are actively widening shared paths whenever possible, taking into consideration physical constraints,” said Dr Lam. “We’re also building more dedicated cycling paths. Under our national cycling plan, we intend to build more than 700km of cycling paths by 2030, up from the current 400km.”
The Government will also step up public education to cultivate a culture of safety and civic-mindedness, Dr Lam said, adding that there now “about 900 volunteers from grassroots, who are patrolling the neighbourhoods and educating cyclists and personal mobility device users about safe and gracious behaviour”.
He added that “with the Parking Places Act in place, as well as the Active Mobility Act, we’ll be able to step up enforcement action against people who disregard these regulations. With proper enforcement action, the behaviour of commuters and users will change”.
Among other things, the new Active Mobility Act will require all e-scooter owners to register their devices with the Land Transport Authority, to facilitate enforcement against errant users.
One listener suggested that owners of private bicycles should also be required to register their bikes.
But Dr Lam said that one of the reasons why authorities have not started registering bicycles is that they "do not want to stifle the use of active mobility … to the extent that it’s so inconvenient to use (them)".
However, he said that the Government will "constantly look at the situation", starting with bike-sharing schemes.
"Because these bikes are rented … there is a higher tendency for them to be abused and indiscriminately parked," he explained.
While there may be occasions when private bicycles are “left stranded in public areas”, Dr Lam believes the town councils should be able to “clear them when necessary”, he added.