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Singapore’s Transportation System Needs A Rework

About 8.9 million journeys are made everyday, and that figure is expected to shoot up by 60 per cent to about 14.3 million” (A Question Of Supply And Demand, Mr. Loh Chee Kong).

I read with interest the report, “A Question Of Supply And Demand” (June 26, 2010) by Mr. Loh Chee Kong, on the interview with Transport Minister Raymond Lim. Transportation is an important issue for all Singaporeans; with a huge vehicle traffic, increasing modernisation and industrialisation as well as inherent geographical constraints, Singapore has one of the most congested roads around the world. Despite a plethora of measures rolled out by the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA), little has been accomplished significantly. The troubling rush-hour traffic and continual congestion prove that more work has to be done in terms of evaluating existing measures and developing more effective action plans.

For instance, if the Certificate of Entitlement (COE) – instituted in 1990 – was introduced to regulate and control car ownership and population on the roads, then does it mean that the programme has failed? Already there has been existing criticisms that the COE bids favour the high-income households, whilst lower-income families in need of vehicles are forced to pay the high COE prices. Quoting the laws of supply and demand is irrelevant because the results have not been exactly favourable; furthermore, increasing vehicle speeds might not be a good gauge for the extent of congestion on our roads.

Moving on, how effective has the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) been? The fact that other countries and cities are selectively adopting similar measures is besides the point; what is more important is whether the local ERP has been realistically effectual. The Transport Minister approves of such a congestion management measure; yet the same jams and heavy traffic are evidenced every single day on expressways. Motorists are simply frustrated by the daily routine of slow-moving traffic, and annoyed by the fact that our roads are overly-susceptible to standstills whenever accidents occur. After years of paying toll charges at gantries after gantries, Singaporeans have a right to know if their payments have genuinely improved road and driving conditions.

Minister’s Lim decision to commute on public transport at peak hours would give him an excellent picture of the degree of inconvenience and human traffic from station to station, bus stop to bus stop. Right now, the approach should not solely focus on encouraging Singaporeans to step out of their cars – especially since many have explained that such a call is a tad hypocritical if politicians themselves opt for their vehicles – but by making our public transport more effective, efficient, and obviously: more comfortable.

The time is now: it is imperative for the MOT and LTA to rethink and re-evaluate the aforementioned policies and initiatives. We simply cannot afford to allow the situation to spiral out of control.

A version of this article was published in TODAY.

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About guanyinmiao

A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting. Carlos Castaneda.

Discussion

4 thoughts on “Singapore’s Transportation System Needs A Rework

  1. The troubling rush-hour traffic and continual congestion prove that more work has to be done in terms of evaluating existing measures and developing more effective action plans

    The problem is that there will always be rush-hour traffic and congestion, unless cars can fly. Once many drivers start using a road, congestion will just happen and the rest have to wait . 30 mins to clear Dunearn Road considered fast or slow? Or should it be 15 mins? Obviously drivers have different degrees of patience for congestion.

    Already there has been existing criticisms that the COE bids favour the high-income households, whilst lower-income families in need of vehicles are forced to pay the high COE prices.

    So what? That’s the purpose of COE – to limit the number of vehicles on the roads. Hence if one can’t afford the COE to buy a car, then he has to take the public transport. This point about inequity is seriously irrelevant here.

    Quoting the laws of supply and demand is irrelevant because the results have not been exactly favourable; furthermore, increasing vehicle speeds might not be a good gauge for the extent of congestion on our roads.

    What do you mean by ‘not been exactly favourable’? Yep, increasing vehicle speeds is not a good gauge, but it’s better than no gauge.

    yet the same jams and heavy traffic are evidenced every single day on expressways. Motorists are simply frustrated by the daily routine of slow-moving traffic, and annoyed by the fact that our roads are overly-susceptible to standstills whenever accidents occur

    As I said, different drivers have their optimal level of congestion. You’re looking from a micro perspective instead of a macro perspective like how fast vehicles can move after a certain period of time stuck in a jam. If overall vehicle speed for a particular road with a ERP gantry has increased, then I suppose it has been effective in unclogging congestion.

    Many drivers will always KPKB on traffic jams and congestion, no matter what. I think LTA maintains a data of average vehicle speeds on their website. I suggest you read through before discarding ERP as a tool to control road congestion.

    Posted by eternalhap | July 4, 2010, 3:11 pm
    • Congestion is a relative term, and hence experienced in varying degrees by different individuals; agreed. It is impossible to please every single driver or rider, but there is nothing wrong with evaluating existing measures, or updating information to ease traffic flow. In spite of the many measures to slow down the number of vehicles going onto our roads, the Transport Minister has revealed that the number of cars on the roads is projected to increase very significantly in the upcoming years. If roads, especially in the central and business districts, remain largely unaltered (in terms of roads or increasing lanes); then we would have to live with unfavourable gridlocks every single day. We cannot just brush congestion aside and naively believe that a certain segment of the population is merely over-sensitive or demanding.

      Inequity, maybe. The idea would be that if the wealthy – who has the ability to purchase multiple cars and vehicles for more ostentatious purposes – does so, then increased demand for the COEs would only drive up prices for the less-wealthy who may have a greater need. But of course, need here is a matter of perspective.

      The LTA addresses it clearly that ERP encourages motorists to consider alternatives, i.e. probably choosing another route, travelling earlier to beat the rush-hour traffic et cetera. The last report by the agency was released two years ago in 2008, and it did reflect increasing vehicle speeds. A few requests here: i) update information on ERP and vehicle speed, perhaps on a more regular basis, ii) are there plans to increase roads and lanes to complement rising populations of vehicles, iii) any other possibilities to address the plethora of traffic congestion.

      I believe it’s important to take a micro-perspective because drivers are the ones who go through the jams and congestions, not policy-makers per se. If policies are targeted as the big picture, yet Singaporeans continually experience such inconvenience, then it is unfortunate.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | July 4, 2010, 3:56 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 2 Jul 2010 « The Singapore Daily - July 2, 2010

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