Sunday, December 6, 2009
On return to Singapore, I was screened again. This is a special exercise carried out an random. In total, I was screened 5 times on this trip.
I wonder if all the screening was really effective. If there was a terrorist or hijacker, would they have a better way to send in a bomb or weapon, rather than carry them as a passenger? If a terrorist went as a passenger, would the elaborate screening catch them?
With the countless screenings that are being carried out at airports around the world, did they manage to catch a terrorist? It is easy to carry out these screening mindlessly under the umbrella of "security". This is also good business for security consultants and airport personnels.
I hope that someone will really check on their effectiveness, or look for better ways to solve the problem.
Monday, November 23, 2009
On both legs of the journey, the train was rather empty during the off-peak hours. But they still run the service to give a convenient connection to the passengers. This may increase the train fare, but the fare is still affordable (about SGD 60) for a return ticket on a journey that takes 90 minutes.
I have the option of taking the bus, which is cheaper. But the bus runs only two trips a day, and the timing did not suit me.
There is a fine balance between cost and convenience. The authority in the UK appears to be able to get this balance right. I hope that Singapore can learn from this observation, instead of leaving matters to the "free market".
Tan Kin Lian
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Dear Mr. Tan,
One of my friends sent this to me. I am sharing this just in case you have not seen it. Today's technology make possible to see the wold with having to leave home. Just enjoy.
The Eiffel Tower - like being there yourself.
You will see the Eiffel Tower like never before....push the arrows and put it on the full screen 360 deg
Click on the link:
Sound provided as well.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I asked the staff at the Information desk. She said that many passengers had asked the same question, but she did not hear about the ULTra system being ready yet. She thought that it had been delayed.
I asked a French transport expert who was monitoring the development. He told me that the planned starting date is December, i.e. next month. There were some technical hitches that needed to be sorted out.
The first phase of the ULTra system involved less than 100 vehicles. When fully operational in 3 years time, it would involve a few hundred vehicles and would cover the entire Heathrow Airport and the nearby areas.
Many people look forward to this new development, but there had been a few delays. I hope that the technical problem will be cleared up and that the ULTra system can encourage other countries to adopt similar systems.
London - Tube
New York - Subway
Paris - Metro
Singapore - MRT
I find the names used in London, New York and Paris to be quite convenient. It is easy to refer to a station by the name Tube, Subway, Metro rather than MRT station.
Maybe some creative person can find a one-syllable, easily pronounced name for MRT. How about Mart or Rapid?
I asked my French host why the fare was low. He said that the fare only meet one third of the cost and that two-third was subsidised by the government. He explained that the subsidy was intended to encourage more people to take public transport, instead of using their private cars.
This makes sense. We are so used to paying not only the full cost of public transport but also contributing to the big profit of the public transport operators, under our "no subsidy" appraoch. It is time for Singapore to re-think some of our policies.
Tan Kin Lian
The level of comfort of the London Underground beat the MRT in Singapore significantly. The MRT train is packed most of the day, even late at night. I often had to stand during the entire journey. The seats in MRT were made of hard metal.
It is costly to travel on the London Underground in London compared to MRT in Singapore. The difference is about 3 times for the same distance. But the London fare it is cheaper than taking the taxi in Singapore, for the same distance.
Another name for the London Underground is the Tube. Each station is called a Tube station. This is easier to pronounce compared to Underground or MRT. The people in London use their thinking and came out with a good name.
Tan Kin Lian
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The information counter at the airport provides excellent service. The staff are courteous, knowledgeable and helpful. This is probably the best that I have experienced among airports in the world. In many other airports, the information counter is hard to find and is not well manned.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
There are big signs to direct the passenger to the counters according to the airlines. As this arrangement is fixed, it is practical to use these permanent signs rather than depend on the display board.
The regular travellers already know which counters to checkin, according to the airlines. For those who are not regular travellers, the signs by airlines would be more useful.
After 30 years of operation, it is time for Changi Airport to adopt the best practice used at other airports.
Tan Kin Lian
Monday, November 16, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
My problem is that I have to look far away at the service numbers of the arriving buses, so that I can signal my bus to stop. This is stressful, especially as my eyesight is not good. This problem is also faced by many older people.
It will be useful for each bus stop to have a digital display to show the service numbers of the buses that are expected to arrive within the next five minutes. This will give sufficient notice to the passengers to get ready.
Our bus companies and Land Transport Authority have experimented with a high cost system using GPS. However, this system has not worked well, due to the inherent problems of tracking the buses with GPS and sending the data to each bus stop.
A polytechnic lecturer told me that some countries have adopted low cost, wire mesh technology to provide this information. I am not clear about how this system works. Apparently, it is possible for the bus to transmit its service number using this technology to be received at the bus stops and for the distance to be measured. If this technology works according to my guess, it is possible to install a low cost system to show the service numbers of the approaching buses.
I hope that some experts can see if this system is already adopted in some countries and see how it can be implemented in Singapore.
Tan Kin Lian
Friday, November 6, 2009
With traffic congestion and crowded buses and trains, it can take more than one hour to commute from home to workplace and the same time to return back. Travelling time and cost now becomes an important consideration.
To reduce travelling cost, time and congestion, workers should make a conscious effort to look for employment nearer their home. Employers should also consciously look for workers who live near their workplace. This is a win-win solution.
Workers are likely to work longer in a place, if the travelling time and cost is reduced. They may even be willing to accept a slightly lower salary.
Recruitment practices should now focus on workplace. It will be a good strategy for job opportunities to be advertised according to the zones, so as to attract the workers who live near by.
I hope that popular job portals should make a conscious effort to arrange the jobs according to zones, and make it easy for workers to search for job opporunities according to this criteria.
We need to change our mindset and recruitment practices.
Tan Kin Lian
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I asked him for his name. He recognised me as being the former CEO of NTUC Income, but I have not met him before.
I replied, "Yes. I wish that our government and business leaders should take the MRT like the ordinary citizens".
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
During the off-peak hours in Taipei, I was able to find a seat for most of the journey. In Singapore, it is difficult to get a seat even late at night.
What is the difference? In Singapore, the regulators and the public transport council do not care about the comfort of the passengers or the waiting time. The ministers and top civil servants do not take the train. SMRT wants to increase their profits to the maximum.
In Taipei, the government is more accountable to the people. This is the benefit of a more democratic and free election.
Tan Kin Lian
This was a bad idea. I went to pass many congested roads with slow moving traffic. The situation is as bad as Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur during the peak hours. A journey of 10 km took 1 hour.
I did not realise that the roads are so congested outside of the highways. So many people had to travel to work and spend a lot of wasted time and lost productivity. The situation is made worse by the construction works to build more roads and fly-overs.
The solution is to have better local services for the last mile and encourage more people to take public transport. Many people had to use private cars due to the poor public transport. It caused road congestion. Things have become quite bad in recent years.
Tan Kin Lian
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
THERE is no real competition in the public transport sector in Singapore, unlike in Hong Kong where the companies running bus, minibus and train services compete for the same pool of passengers.
Here are two of my concerns about the transport infrastructure here:
- Lack of efficiency and poor response to market demand. SBS Transit introduced premium services to cater to office workers in the Central Business District. The services were well received. In Ang Mo Kio, where I live, service 549 was introduced more than a year ago and soon became very popular. But service 549 continues to be serviced by a single-deck bus and the frequency remains unchanged.
Also, other than premier services, all other bus services still make too many stops. When will SBS Transit realise a point-to-point service is essential?
- Lack of comfort. While SBS Transit has renewed its fleet, it has reduced the level of comfort. For instance, I noted a new fleet of buses was added over the past year - but all were single-deck buses with fewer seats. Given that these buses replaced double-deckers, this means consumers now have less chance of a seat, even during off-peak hours.
It is no wonder that the car population continues to increase, despite rising petrol, Electronic Road Pricing and parking costs.
Liang Hien Fung
Monday, November 2, 2009
A recent survey showed that a lower proportion of commuters are using public transport. More people are using private cars for commuting, adding to road congestion and insufficient parking spaces.
Commuters have complained for a long time about the unreliability of bus services, congested buses, long waiting and travelling times and poor connections to MRT stations.
The Land Transport Authority is working on the long term solution to add more MRT lines and to bring better connection between these lines. This will bring more stations within walking distance to key destinations and residential areas in Singapore.
However, some practical steps can be done immediately to improve the current situation. I suggest the introduction of local transport services, to use small buses and cars to bring commuters from their homes to MRT stations and bus interchanges and back to their homes. These services need a new set of regulations and operators.
The challenge in most public transport systems is “the last mile”. It is not possible to bring a MRT station within walking distance to every home, but if there is a convenient and low cost service to cover the last leg of the journey, public transport becomes an attractive alternative.
If this local service is available, there is no need to find more parking spaces for the “park and ride” scheme.
Hong Kong has an efficient system using light buses to provide the transport for “the last mile”. Singapore should follow this proven example. We can extend this concept to allow cars to be used as well to add flexibility and choice.
If the connection for the last mile works well, there is no need for the big buses to make many stops to pick up passengers. They can provide an express service to connect the different towns and pick up passengers only at key interchange points. The travelling time will be short and the bus schedules will be more reliable. Every passenger should be given a seat.
I hope that the Land Trasnport Authority can include this concept in its master plan and take early action to implement it.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
The hubs are the bus interchanges where many bus services will bring commuters to other towns. Preferably, these buses should run on express services that have few stops only at major interchange stops. They should run on fixed schedules. The travelling time should be short, as there are few stops to pick or drop passengers.
Each town should have two or three local services to bring commuters to the hubs and the MRT stations. These local services provide the "spokes" to connect the different parts of the town to the "hubs". They should run at frequencies of less than 5 minutes. If the demand is low, they can use small buses. If there is more demand, they can use bigger buses.
The feeder services can be runned by small operators, similar to a taxi service. This will give greater flexibility to change the supply according to demand. Hong Kong is operating this type of system, using light buses that are owned by invidiudal drivers.
The local services are shown in different colors for easy identification. They also have a single digit number. It will be easy for commuters to know which local service to take to a different part of the town. The fares should be fixed at an affordable rate. The road taxes and ERP charges on these local services should be waived or reduced.
This is how a commuter can take public transport. First, the commuter takes a local bus to the hub. Next, the commuter changes to a train or express bus to take to the destination hub. At the final leg, the commuter takes a local bus to the destination.
If the starting point or destination is close to the hub, the commuter can walk instead of taking the local bus. As the waiting time for a local bus is less than 5 minutes and the fare is affordable, the commuter may not mind taking the bus.
I understand that the Land Transport Authority is in favour of the "hub and spoke" approach, but there was so little news about the plans during the past two years. I hope that they can announce their plans earlier, and invite public discussion.
Tan Kin Lian
I hope that the Land Transport Authority will implement my suggestion of local bus services that run at frequency of less than 5 minutes. There is no need to have a display of bus arrival times.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
On other days, he would wait in the queue at the airport for about 1 hour to get a passenger. As there will be a plane arriving at a specific time, there will be passengers who need a taxi.
Both methods seems to be quite inefficient. The taxi driver has to drive 10 km to pick up the next passenger or to wait for 1 hour for another passenger. The wasted time and distance must add to the cost of taxi fares.
What is the solution? Make better use of taxi calling. This will reduce the waiting time and travelling distance. But, the taxi calling charge is now too high and customers are reluctant to call a taxi and pay $2.50 or $4.
In some countres, the taxi calling is free. This will improve efficiency of the taxi service and reduce wastage. This matter needs to be regulated, rather than left to the taxi companies to work out.
Tan Kin Lian
I asked the counter staff to look at my carry on baggage. Can it be taken up the plane?
She said that there is a weight limit of 10 kg. My bag weighed 11.5 kg. So, it should be disallowed.
She asked, "Do you have a laptop computer?". Yes. She said "Tell the security guard that you have a laptop and he will allow you through".
Wow. This is unexpected. A counter staff who said "yes". This is so rare in Singpore. People are used to saying "no", even when they are in doubt.
Kudo to Jetstar.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
KPE is supposed to provide a convenient connection for residents of Sengkang, Punggol and Hougang to bring them to the city and other parts of Singapore. There is a large catchment of residents here. Why are they not using the KPE?
I wonder if it is due to the poor connection to other roads? Or that people are still not familiar with the KPE?
On a few occasions that I used the KPE, I was lost. I took the wrong exits and had a great deal of trouble to find back the right way.
It is so very costly and took a long time to build the KPE. It is rather sad to see it being under-utilised. Its failure to attract more traffic means that the Central Expressway (CTE) continued to be congested.
10 years ago, I wrote to the Minister for Transport to build a second level for the CTE as it was clearly congested at that time. This suggestion was not taken up - presumably as the Ministry had taken the decision to build the KPE. I believe that the second level CTE would be have "cheaper, better and faster" in relieving traffic congestion in Singapore.
But, I may be wrong in declaring that KPE is under-utilised. Perhaps people who use it can share their experience.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Even the houses are numbered in blocks of 100 to follow the street. So, a house 1704 will be after 17th street. It is easy for taxi drivers and visitors to find the right house.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
I agree. It seemed rather wasteful to have so many spaces reserved for residents, when they were unoccupied. Visitors had a difficult time to find an empty space to park the car. This situation has become extremely bad recently, due to the large increase in car population. It is difficult to find a parking space in many places all over Singapore.
The situation is very bad in HDB estates, due to the "crazy" and wasteful reserving of spaces for season parking that is not used in the daytime.
I have decided the Land Transport Authority must have a secret agenda of thwarting criminals. The road design in Singapore makes a quick getaway, or getting anywhere for that matter, nearly impossible.
As a transplant from the flat grid of Los Angeles, navigating the illogical, too-many-named or too-few-named streets here is maddening. What genius decided one neighborhood should have Springleaf Rd, Springleaf Ave, Springleaf Heights, Springleaf Gardens, Springleaf Drive and Springleaf Link?
When your friend says he lives on Springleafe Ave, you remember Springleaf, not avenue drive or road, it takes you longer to find the correct street than it does to reach the neighborhood. Couldn’t the designer have thought of a few more names?
Never mind that Singapore doesn’t have a Spring anyway, but the Springleaf theme could have been taken further and you could have distinguishable street names like Palm frond, Pandan leaf, etc.
Okay, so maybe some developer who never studied urban planning really liked the name Springleaf, and he doesn’t know the difference between an avenue (should have trees on either side), a road or a lane (narrow, lacking a median or shoulder).
But numbered streets should be straightforward, right? Wrong! Firstly the streets aren’t straight, secondly, there is no apparent order: 1 is not followed by 2, and so on. Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 crosses Ang Mo Kio Ave 3, 4, 5 and 6. It is a total maze.
Not only are there too few names, there are too many names too, for the same road! Balestier turns into Lavender which turns into Crawford. Kallang turns into Victoria which turns into Hill St. and the list goes on.
If there is any logic to the road design in Singapore, it is a perverse logic. Which is why I think the aim must be to prevent people from getting around easily.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Recently, I have been observing my car to see the ideal speed of this automated vehicle. I found that a speed of 50 kph is acceptable and quite safe.
The automated car can be safer than a car driver by a human driver, as there is less human error.
I shall be checking if the car can be used in congested roads and if it can detect red light and stop the car at a traffic light. If the light turns green, it should start the car.
I shall also check how the car handles a change of lane, and if it is dangerous to cut into another lane with a car behind.
She said that the public transport system in Jakarta needs to be improved. Some commuters are worried about taking taxis due to security. They would love to have a driver-less taxi, if this is possible through technology.
I planned to visit Paris in November to study the driver-less electric vehicle that is being developed and tested in a few cities in Europe.
I believe that this system can operate as follows:
a) provide local transport within a distance of 3 km
b) bring commuters to the train station, bus terminus, or shopping mall
c) can be called by SMS
d) operate on green energy, i.e. electricity
e) be on call most of the time; reduce need for parking space
f) can be cheaper than taxi, as there is no need to pay the driver
g) can be safer than a human driver
I hope that this type of vehicle and driver-less taxi service can be implemented in Singapore to provide local transport. The current taxis can continue to provide long distance transport.
Tan Kin Lian
Monday, October 5, 2009
For the day visit to Paris, I have the following options:
a) normal flight
b) budget flight
My friend advised that the train is the best option. It takes 2 hours to travel by train from London to Paris (less than the time required to pass through security at the airports). The fare is lower by train, e.g. a return ticket can be bought for SGD 160. There are many train services every day.
I hope that Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand can develop an efficient and fast train service to connect the cities, to encourage tourism and travel among the people.
Tan Kin Lian
Sunday, October 4, 2009
a) Standard service - managed by LTA. Taxis offering standard service can pick passengers at taxi stands. Standard flag down rate, distance rate and peak period surcharge. Booking of taxis through a common call center controlled by LTA but outsourced to a service provider.
b)Local service - managed by LTA. Taxis can operate within a specific town. For short distance travel.
c) Premium service - managed by each individual company. Customers call their call center of the individual company to book for a taxi. The rates and conditions will be determined by each company.
LTA can change the terms of the standard service depending on the market demand and supply. If the rates are too low, there will be less taxis available and longer waiting time. If the rates are too high, there will be less customers and taxis have to wait (or they can rely on their taxi company's premium service.
This is market sensitive and helps to promote a free market for the standard and premium service. The premium service has to compete with the standard service to attract its customers. Competition works best when there is clarity in the market on the terms of service.
Tan Kin Lian
Similarly, there are too many advertisements in some train stations, especially those in the city area. These advertisements obscure the information needed by commuters for the next stage of their travel. At the exit in Republic Plaza, I had difficulty finding the direction and staircase to the escalator as there were so many food outlets, with their advertisements, that clutter the "exit" sign.
The Land Transport Authority officers should inspect the stations and make sure that there is a standard of clarity in the direction signs for commuters. They cannot leave these matters to the operators who are more focused on their profits.
Some commuters believe that when the operators make more money from advertisements, they will keep the fare low. From my observation, these are separate issues. The fares are based on several factors, excluding advertising revenue.
It is all right for advertisements to be placed in the inside of trains and buses or on the back panel of buses, but the amount of advertising space used should be limited and should not from the primary purpose of the vehicle or stations.
This will leave the advertising for other media, such as the mainstream media and the outdoor signs.
Tan Kin Lian
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
However, some old car parks still use the cash card. The motorists have to slot in the cash card on entry and exit from car parks. This is inconvenient.
According to a friend, even the car park at URA Center still use the cash card system. It is ridiculous as the Government insist that all motorist should pay their ERP charges by direct deduction from the cash card.
Perhaps the senior people at URA Center and in other buildings that use the cash card system do not realise the inconvenience that is suffered by their visitors. These senior people probably had season pass and are automatically passed through the barrier without using the cash card.
It is rather sad that the decision makers are not aware about the impact of their decision, or inactions, on the general public.
Tan Kin Lian
Transit-Link said that they have publicised widely to ask commuters to change to the new card. Is this true? I take MRT and bus regularly and was not aware about this "wide publicity". In fact, I was surprised to learn about the expiry date only today. I thought that there would be plenty of time to make a change.
I have been against the idea of a change to the new ezLink card. I felt that it would be costly and add to the fares paid by consumers. The large amount of money spent could not be justified by the additional value to be obtained from the new card. There was no clear explanation on why this change had to be made, and large amount of funds have to be spent.
Tan Kin Lian
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Some people use foldable bicycles that can be taken up the train. However, this is still not practical, as the bicycles have to be carried.
A good alternative is to have bicycles that can be rented for short trips. It can be returned at any of the storage points. A commuter can rent a bicycle near the home, ride to the station, and leave it there. The bicycle can be rented by the next commuter who wish to ride from the station to his home.
For this system to operate well, the operator must be authorised by the town council. It must be backed by law enforcement to ensure that the bicycles are not stolen or vandalised.
A town council can put in the capital, infrastructure, bicycle lanes and regulations for this service and licence a private operator to manage it. This is similar to the arrangement where the infrastructure of the MRT is provided by the state and is licensed to a private operator.
Some towns in Europe operate a bicycle service that is free for the public. The cost is borne by the taxpayers.
I hope that a bicycle service can be operated in our towns in Singapore.
Monday, September 28, 2009
I wish to suggest another way to encourage brisk walking that can be done everyday. For many people, the MRT station can be 1 or 2 km away from their home. They can be encouraged to walk for this last stretch, if it is safe and comfortable.
Walking is not practical in Singapore due to the hot climate, the occasional rain and the heavy traffic on the road.
I suggest that a network of elevated covered walkway, up to 2 km long, be provided to link several sectors of a town to the MRT station or bus interchange. This will encourage people to take up brisk walking every day and also reduce the congestion on the road.
There is an elevated covered walkway at the center of Taipei. It worked well and is popular. Hong Kong also has a network of elevated walkways linking the shopping malls.
Tan Kin Lian
Thursday, September 24, 2009
In my concept of this system, there will be feeder buses to bring commuters to the town center where they can take MRT or express bus services. The express bus will travel between the towns and will have few stops along the way, e.g. only a major pickup points. They will operate on fixed schedules and are likely to keep to their scheduled times, as they only have to make a few stops. The travelling time should also be shortened.
This concept requires the commuters to be willing to change buses, from the feeder to the express bus and again to the feeder bus, or to walk if the distance from the hub is quite close. Most commuters use this mode anyway, when they take the MRT.
The advantage of the express bus is that the commuter is likely to have a seat. The MRT is likely to be more crowded and jam packed.
This will offer true competition between the MRT and express bus. Some people will take the express bus because of the comfort of a seat.
I hope that the Land Transport Authority is planning along these lines. So far, they prefer to plan in secret and do not wish to engage the public. This is a sad situation in Singapore.
Tan Kin Lian
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Later, I found a sign posted at the head of the queue, "Due to traffic jam, the bus No. 70 would be delayed". That was all. As this sign was posted in front, there was no way that people at the back of the queue knew about the delay, and how long the delay would be.
Most of the commuters would take this type of poor service as part of life in Singapore. There is no point in making a complaint. The people in charge, in SBS Transit or Land Transport Authority would not care. They might give some hollow apology or nice words, but they really don't care.
If there are sincere about the customer, they would have sent a staff to tell the people in the queue, update them about the arrival time and help them with alternative arrangements. After all, there are many unemployed people who would be delighted to have this type of job, even at low pay. Surely it is possible to have some customer service officers at the terminal? But, SBS Transit probably decided that employing people would cost money and eat into their profit. So, they would save on this money. It is cheaper to give hollow apology.
It took me 1 hour to get home from my office, travelling a distance of 2 km. It would have been faster for me to walk.
Sigh! This is Singapore.
Tan Kin Lian
The best solution to the taxi problem will be low cost high availabilty of taxis, the next best solution will be high cost, high availabilty, but we have got the worst solution of high cost low availability. Not only this, taxi drivers are joining the bandwagon of conmen as they pull out all their stunts to squeeze commuteres of every dollar while not delivering value.
As I am writing this, I am waiting for a taxi company to reply to my feedback of my daughter taking a cab that cost over $15 from Ang Mo Kio to Yishun. It is ridiculous to be paying for such a short journey such a high price. What I understand from my daughter is that the taxi driver tried his best to stop at every junction and to tailgate at the most crowded lane. Taxi drivers seem to have evolved their techniques of maximising profit at the expense of commuters. What should be a fifteen minute journey turned out to be more than 45 minutes.
What must change is for an independent body to monitor feedback instead of the same company monitoring it as there is no motivation to improve. It is just like asking the banks to investigate their own wrongdoings. What we get is just lip service.
Furthermore, the LTA must review its policies for obviously it is not working. High cost low availability is the worst solution and even a donkey can achieve it!
I tried to get a taxi on the main road. It was very difficult. I could not see if the oncoming taxis were available or not. Some of the empty taxis could not stop, as the road was congested.
I had to take a bus but went to the wrong stop for my connection. So, I took a taxi again. The trip of 2 km cost me $8 inclusive of peak hour surcharge and the bus fare). It took more than 30 minutes, inclusive of waiting time.
It is a big hassle and very costly to get a taxi in Singapore. I hope that the Land Transport Authority realise that the taxi system does not work well.
However, she left after one month. She told me that the travelling time to the office took 1 1/2 hour each way. It was too long. She found another job that takes less travelling time.
It is important for employees to choose employees who live close to the place of work and has less travelling time. If the distance is too long, the strain caused by commuting will take its toll. Even a dedicated employee will give up.
It is important for employment practices to take this factor into account. Tell the job seekers about the place of work. Find out where they live and choose those who live close to the workplace. It is better for your long term retention of employees.
Government policy can help. Remove the stamp duty for the purchase of a home. An employee may be willing to move to a new house close to the place of work. This is for long term. Encourage young people to rent a place, rather than to buy a property too early.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
a) congested road
b) insufficient parking space
c) long walking distance from car park to destination
It is also quite expensive:
a) high parking charges ($3 for first hour, $1 for each half hour)
b) ERP charges
d) high car prices, COE and monthly installments
e) high petrol price
The most convenient is to get a taxi or to car pool. Call someone to pick you and share the cost.
Monday, September 21, 2009
A member can book a vehicle by sending a SMS to the control center. A reply will be sent to tell the member the location of the nearest free vehicle (which should be within walking distance). The member can book the vehicle and drive it to its destination, which must be within the city. The vehicle can be parked there, waiting for the next user to book it.
The vehicle will be used for several trips during the day. The parking time is reduced.
This is more efficient than private cars, which are used by only the owner and are usually parked at the place of work for several hours each day. This requires more parking spaces and more vehicles, as each vehicle is owned by one person.
Car sharing is more efficient than private cars. The mode used in Paris is even more efficient, as it allows the car to be re-allocated for us, after reaching its destination.
A car sharing scheme allows the use of electric vehicles (which is not convenient as a private car).
It should be quite safe, for the following reasons:
a) It will have sensors that will detect obstruction and avoid crashing into another vehicle.
b) The vehicle is likely to travel at a slow speed, maybe not more than 30 kph.
c) It will mainly be for short distance, i.e. to the nearby MRT or town center.
The danger could be that other vehicles (driven by people) will knock into this vehicle which is moving at a slow speed. The risk is also small and can be reduced by allocating the inner lane to the automated vehicle and other slow moving vehicles. The faster vehicles can use the outer lane. Maybe they can share the bus lanes.
The driverless vehicles are most useful for private housing estates and also for the internal compounds of universities, polytechnics and business parks.
It may be possible to construct elevated guide ways for these automated vehicles. The guide ways can be of small gauge and quite inexpensive to build. It can be much smaller than the tracks used by the MRT train.
It will run on electricity stored in the battery of the vehicle - no polltion, good for the environment.
Watch this Animated video.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
This is the profit driven motive. Charge customers, even though you do not give them the parking space that was promised. The standard of honesty in Singapore has deteriorated.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Today, the internal roads are crowded with cars parked on both sides. Many houses have two or more cars, so some have to be parked outside.
When I drive to other places, I faced the same situation. It is difficult to find a parking space within the buildings or on the roads. There are far too many cars. It is a big hassle to park a car.
The cost of parking is high. In many places, it cost $3 for the first hour and $1 for each subsequent half hour. It can cost more than $5 to park a car for a 2 hour lunch.
This is why I prefer to take public transport, wherever possible. It may even be cheaper to take a taxi, than to drive.
Long term solution: Introduce a driverless taxi service. This is now being experimented in some cities. Commuters can call for a car at any time to be driven to the destination. This car is then available to be called by another commuter.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
This requires a conscious effort by employers, workers and the Government. Employers should ask for the place of residence of their workers and give preference to workers who live nearby. They should also state their place of work in the job advertisements.
Workers should also choose to work in a place near their home, even if the salary and career prospects are more modest.
Employers need workers who are suitable for the jobs. If they exercise discretion, they will find many workers who are suitable. They can choose those who live nearby. Employers will also benefit from lower turnover of employers. When employees work closer to their homes, they are more likely to stay in the same job.
Government can play a role in encouraging employers to choose workers that require less time to commute to work. This will lead to higher productivity for the nation.
We have less crowded roads during the school holidays, when many workers take leave for vacation with their children. It would be nice if the roads are less crowded all round the year, by sensible employment practices.
This is a simple idea. I hope that it will attract the attention of the decision makers. It will be nice to have less crowded roads.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
When I checked-in at Singapore, I was told that I had to collect my luggage at Riyadh and re-checked in for the domestic flight. There was no arrangement to check through the domestic flight - due probably to the need for custom clearance.
The domestic terminal turned out to be several hundred meters from the international terminal and there was no ground transport. It was a long, never ending walk.
The signage at the domestic terminal was poor. There were many passengers waiting outside for the doors to open. I learned later that all the staff were on prayer and that terminal was temporarily closed. No one was there to tell an unfamiliar traveller like me.
I went through the security clearance into a hall to look for the check in counter. I learned later that it was the departure hall. The security guard allowed me through without a ticket. Later, I had to leave the departure hall to look for the check-in counter, which was "outside". There was a long queue at the check-in counter and the plane was departing soon. I finally managed to get into the plane just on time. It was stressful.
I though that, with this experience, the connection on the returned journey would be troublesome, but not unexpected. I faced some new unexpected problems, but I shall not relate them.
I learned later, that the travel agent could have made the connection at Dubai, instead of Riyadh. As Dubai is outside of Saudi Arabia, the connection would have been at an international airport. I would have arrived at the international terminal in Riyadh.
Lesson: Never make a connection from an international flight to a domestic flight. It is better to arrive at the international terminal of your destination.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
We introduced a multi-million dollar automated system for passport clearance. We now have to add another three levels of checking by people.
Many Singaporeans will insist that security is of high priority, so all these measures are for our own good. Really? Or is this another example of the mindless way to just follow procedure and instructions from above?
I went through the automated gate, scanned my passport and my fingerprint. The fingerprint system rejected me several times and asked me to see the immigration officer.
A traveller in front of me had the same problem. He scanned his fingerprint a few times but was rejected. Finally, the officer asked him to scan his left thumb and passed him. He protested that his thumbprint had been accepted on many previous occasions (as he was a regular traveller). The immigration officer argued that the system was working fine, and that his thumbprint was wrong!
I had to intervene. I told the officer that I faced the same situation. My thumbprint was accepted yesterday at another gate and rejected today. The officer insisted that she was listening to the us, but really her mind was closed. This is a typical mindless approach adopted by many Singaporeans. Just follow the authority blindly.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Read this report.
An alternative arrangement is to encourage people to work close to their home, to reduce the time taken in commuting. This will require a change in tax and other policies that now tie people down to a fixed home and discourages them from moving their home to be close to the place of work.
Employers should also change the practices and choose workers who live close to the place of work.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Public Transport Guide
Handy and light
Designed like a street directory, with
Click here to see a sample page of the Guide.
A must for regular users of public transport
Friday, August 14, 2009
I believe that the same budget can be better spent in a different technology. Each bus should transmit its number about 300 meters to the next bus stop.
The number of the approaching buses can be shown in a large electronic display. Elderly people with poor eyesight do not need to strain their eyes to see the number of the approaching buses.
There is no need to show the arrival time, because the buses run at schedules of 5 to 15 minutes. Hence, the maximum waiting time is 15 minutes. It is better for the bus to be punctual rather than to state the time of arrival.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Published in St Times Online
SINGAPORE'S transport system is among the best in the world, but its taxi fare structure is bewildering.
Not only is there a multiplicity of surcharges, but there is also no standard flagdown rate. The average passenger is happy to take a standard taxi but often has to pay a higher fare because the first taxi that comes along is a Mercedes or another model that charges a higher flagdown rate.
There should be a standard flagdown rate for all regular-size cabs.
The Singapore Government believes in the free market. They believe that taxi companies should set their own fares and cannot collude to fix a standard fare. (Look at the action taken against the bus companies running services to Malaysia).
The Government's views is misguided. Public services, including taxi fares, must be regulated and standardised. At this least, this should apply to the "standard" taxi service. Taxi companies can operate "premium" services and fix their own fares. Give the choice to commuters to call for a standard taxi service. All taxi stands should operate on the standard fare.
I believe that this is a practical approach.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Several weeks ago, I received a letter enclosing a new ez-Link card and asking me to get the new card validated at a MRT station.
I made several attempts to get the new card validated. Many MRT stations do not have a ticket office that provide this service. The ticket office in the stations with this service are open during certain hours. I finally managed to validate the new card after at least 5 attempts.
I asked the ticket staff on the purpose of the new card. She said that can be used as a cash card. Currently, it is only recognised in NTUC Fairprice!
It seems that we are spending a lot of money and effort for so little benefit. What a waste of public funds.
Motor insurance premiums increased by 27% last year. It is likely to increase by another 15% this year. The hefty increase of 40% over two years far outstripped the inflation rate. This increase in premium is excessive, considering that the economy is now in recession.
The public should think twice before buying a car. You do not enjoy the use of the car, due to congested roads, no parking space, ERP charges, high petrol prices and now, high insurance premiums.
It is better to use public transport, such as the MRT or buses. It is easy to learn how to use public transport. I recommend the Public Transport Guide, available at Popular Book Stores, for a price of about $7 (inclusive of GST).
If you need private transport for the special occasions, take a taxi. What you spend on the occasional taxi rides is much lower than the fixed cost of owning a car.
Monday, August 3, 2009
You get the convenience of private transport, at a much lower price. This may be possible soon, and can make a radical impovement to the transport system.
Yesterday, I was surprised to learn about the European CityMobil project that aim to achieve the same goal, and had been ongoing for some time. I also learned about the CyCab developed by INRIA of France, that is almost ready to introduce a vehicle that works along the line that I envisioned (although they thought about it much earlier).
Read this brochure on the CyCab project and watch this animated video. It is exciting. I hope that the Land Transport Authority of Singapore will use its $20 million fund to try it out here.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
There have been a number of driverless urban vehicle concepts that aspire to make transport in the future easier, but the CyCab is the one nearest to production. Formulated by French company INRIA, the system uses real-time kinematic GPS to determine its exact location and move to the desired destination. The real-time kinematic GPS used by the cab allows for accuracy to within a centimeter and also happens to be used by cruise missiles.
This concept vehicle will be able to keep track of obstacles in its path and road markings, and each vehicle stays plugged to the internet to keep in contact with like vehicles, and use this information to avoid snarl-ups. CyCab is not quite ready for mass production, but it should see some uses in the near future. In November 2009, ULTras, the British version of the CyCab will appear to be used to transport passengers from Heathrow’s Terminal 5.
More information can be found here:
Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
The member pays for the cars at an hourly rate. The cars are booked in advance, on a first come first served basis. If a member is interested in the use of the car, it is better to book early, to gain priority.
The member has to return the car back to the original parking space. This allows the next member to take over the use of the car. The charge is based on the time used and the distance travelled, i.e. for the consumption of fuel.
If the fuel tank reaches the replenishment level, the member using the car has to top up the petrol. The cost of the petrol is charged to the club. Members have to observe the rules and play their part, so that the scheme works best for everyone.
The cost of using a shared car is about 10% to 25% of the cost of ownng a private car , depending on the usage. On average, the use of a car can be shared among 4 to 10 members and the cost is spread accordingly.
The first car sharing scheme in Singapore started about 15 years ago. It operated as a cooperative. Later, a few companies operate a similar scheme, quite successfully.
To reduce the congestion on the roads and in the car parks in Singapore, it is time to actively promote the use of car sharing.
Tan Kin Lian
My friend said that many people bought cars, but found it expensive to drive to office, due to ERP and parking fees. They left their car at home, in the HDB estate.
This resulted in insufficient parking space in HDB estate. So HDB estates is also congested with cars! It is quite wasteful to spend $80,000 for a car, to be left at home, or to use only during the weekend.
It is better for these people to rent a car or take a taxi during the weekend or to join a car sharing scheme.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I wish to encourage more people to work near their home or to move their home near their place of work. This will reduce travelling time and congestion on the road.
When looking for a job, give priority to work near your home (even if the salary is lower or the prospect is modest). When looking for workers, choose those that live near the place of work, even if the quality is just acceptable.
This will help to improve the quality of life for everyone, and reduce congestion on the road.
Friday, July 24, 2009
It is time to plan an internal bus service to serve the CBD. The number of cars using the CBD should be restricted. The cars should be parked outside of CBD and the drivers should use public transport within the CBD.
In many cities, there is a tram service to handle most of the internal transport.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Implementation in London Heathrow
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
It is advantages for SMRT to operate all the lines. This will allow the services to be better integrated, remove wasteful competition, reduce operating cost, and (hopefully) reduce train fares.
The snag is, "how much should SMRT compensate Comfort Delgro to take over the NE line? "
This question is difficult for both parties to solve. I suggest that this matter should be decided by an Arbitrator, and that the Government should appoint this Arbirtrator to resolve this issue. It cannot be left to the two companies to sort out.
a) To show the current station, previous station and next station
b) To show the side of the train where the doors will open at the next station.
At that time, the rply from SMRT was that (a) was possible, but (b) was not.
Recently, I saw that some new trains had the lighted signs that show both types of information.
Well done to SMRT for finding a solution. I hope that these signages will be implemented in the older trains as well.