Monday, March 30, 2009

Give way

I was driving down a busy and congested Scotts Road. A taxi on the left lane turned suddently into my lane. The driver was tired about waiting for the bus to move ahead. I slowed down and gave way.

Further down the road, a car turned from the side road into my path. I slowed down and gave way.

On both occasions, I decided to use my brake instead of my horn. It is all right to give way and let the other driver move into the lane that they needed. They have been stuck for too long in their lane or the side road.

Light buses in Singapore

I hope that the Government will make it possible for small operators to run light bus services to serve each town. I suggest the following approach:

1. Each town shall have 2 to 4 routes to serve different parts of the town, and bring the residents to the town center, shopping center or bus terminus

2. These light buses should be exempted from taxes, so that they can reduce the cost of service to the residents

3.  The rental of these light buses can be reduced to a share of the bus fare, so that the operator does not have to incur a fixed cost.

This is a way to create employment for the unemployed. Those who have a driving licence can operate a light bus service. They do not need to go through the extensive training to be a taxi driver. The fare can be kept low. This will improve the quality of the transport service to make it as convenient as Hong Kong. It will improve the quality of life in Singapore, without incurring a big cost.

ERP shift congestion to other roads

I drove from my home to Orchard Hotel to attend a conference. I paid $4.50 to pass 2 ERP gantries along the CTE. But, I got stuck in slow traffic along the PIE and wasted 20 minutes. So, the high charges did not help to reduce my travelling time.

Many people drive private cars to work. This caused congestion on the major roads. The ERP does not help to reduce congestion. It only shift the congestion to other roads.

A better way is to develop more efficient public transport. We need a system similar to Hong Kong where light buses bring people for short distances to the nearest train station or bus interchange. Most people wait 1 minute for a light bus.

With many people out of work in Singapore, it is time for the Land Transport Authority to set the framework for them to make a living by driving a light bus, and offering a service to the travelling public. This may reduce congestion on the road. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Convenient public transport in Hong Kong

My friend spent four days in Hong Kong. She was amazed at the convenience of the public transport, especially the buses. She has to wait 1 minute for a bus. The bus can take her to her destination. Most probably the destination is a MTR station or a nearby shopping center. She does not need taxi or private cars. She has all praise for the public transport system in Hong Kong.

I hope that the public transport system can have some of the convenient features of the Hong Kong system. Most probably, we need light buses to provide convenient and frequent tranport within a short distance, also called "the last mile".

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Urban and intercity public transport

I read an article by Jeffrey Sachs. He talked about the opportunity to rebuild the global economic system to be sustainable. This is to protect the environment and avoid wastage in the use of resources.

A key recommendation is to develop urban and intercity public transport to reduce the reliance on private cars for travel. Many cities are over-congested with private cars.

I like this idea. Cities should be efficient public transport. Make it easy for the people to move around in safe, clean and comfortable public transport. People will prefer this mode of travel, rather than private cars.

Many people buy private cars and bear with the high cost, due to lack of convenient public transport. I hope that the Government will recognise this deficiency, and give top priority to develop public transport.

Public transport can be charged on a marginal cost. They should not have to pay road, ERP and other taxes.  With this special advantage, many people will find it more economical to use public transport. 

It will be win-win for the people and environment, greater efficiency and protection of the environment.

Tan Kin Lian

Booking a taxi

I booked a taxi to fetch me from my home to Raffles Hospital at 10 am. I was quite surprised that the taxi fare was only $13 (i.e $10 fare, $2.50 booking fee and $0.50 ERP fee). I was expected a much higher fare. Probably, there was no surcharge at that time.

I hope that the surcharge can be removed, so that more people are willing to take taxis. This will giv more business to taxi drivers and make taxi more affordable to the commuters.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bus service

In recent times, I have come to appreciate the bus service in Singapore. I take a bus from my home to SMU during the off-peak hours. I am able to get a seat on the bus and to update my blog. The journey takes about 45 minutes (including waiting time) and the time is usefully spent on reading or blogging.

We need to make it more convenient for people to know how to find the right bus. We also need a way to tell the commuter about the number of the  approaching bus, using an electronic display,  so that they do not need to strain their eyes to watch out.

Perhaps, the bus services can announce their schedule of arrival times at each bus stop. And they should try their best to keep to the arrival times. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Expensive display board at bus stop outside SMU

There is an expensive display board at the bus stop in Stamford Road outside Singapore Management University. It shows the arrival time of about 20 bus services that passes that stop.

I observed the display board on two occasions. Once, the bus arrived 5 minutes before the displayed time. The second time, it arrived 5 minutes after the display time.

It seems to be an expensive display board that needed complicated software and communication to  show unreliable information.

I prefer a simple display board that shows the service number of the buses that are arriving at the bus stop. This helps me to avoid straining my eyes to signal my deseired bus to stop. I do not need to know the waiting time, as most bus services are scheduled 5 to 15 minutes. 

I hope that the authority will look into the feasibility of this low cost, but extremely useful, technology.

Tan Kin Lian

Security check at Changi airport

Since the terrorist attack in New York in 2001, many airports increased their security checks. But the checks at Changi Airport was excessive. Each time that I go through the metal detector, the beep will always come on, even though all coins, pens, etc, have been removed. It seems that a plastic case will cause the beep.

I have travelled in many airports around the world. Most of the security measures were quite sensible and did not cause unnecessary inconvenience - unlike Changi.

Recently, the beep has disappeared. It seems that the sensitivity setting of the detector in Changi Airport has finally been adjusted. How wonderful.

But, I wonder, why does it take eight years for someone to realise that the adjustment should be made. I must have given more than half dozen feedback to various channels, and they have always been ignored, without any acknowledgement. This seems to be the style in Singapore in recent years. I hope that the situatiojn can be remedied and that the authority are more responsive and communicative.

Tan Kin Lian

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

When a person travels to another country, the traveller has to go through immigration checks. The purpose is to ensure that undesirable people are not allowed into the country. Is this a good way to carry out the task? Is it producing any beneficial results?

This approach of immigration control seems to be adding a lot of inconvenience to ordinary people and is probably not achieving its purpose.

Here are the practical problems:

1. We know only of some undesirable people, but not the others
2. The undesirable people can travel on a false passport
3. There are other ways of entering a country illegally.
4. The undesirable people need to live somewhere, so they are allowed free movement in their own country anyway.

I wonder if there can be a re-think of the entire approach of immigration control?
I took a flight to Phnom Penh. I was surprised to see a long queue at the Silk Air counter. It seems that during the economic crisis, more people are travelling by budget airlines.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bus arrival information

I suggested that technology should be used to tell commutters about the service numbers of the approaching bus. My proposal uses low cost technology to provide a useful service to the public.

I found that a high cost technology was already used in some bus stops. At the bus stop outside of the History Museum in Stamford Road, there was a large display showing the arrival time of all the bus services.

I watched the arrival time of my service. It showed 20 minutes. This was not helpful. After waiting for 13 minutes, the display showed the arrival time to be 7 minutes. But the bus arrived, 7 minuates ahead of the display.

To provide this type of information, it is necessary to use high cost technology to monitor the position of each bus and to calculate the time to reach each bus stop.
The irony - in spite of spending so much money, the informatin is inaccurate!

I hope that our leaders in Singapore realise that spending more money does not mean getting better results. It is better to use low cost technolgy. I hope that this feebdack is given to the people in charge at our Ministry of Transport!

Tan Kin Lian

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Use technology to improve bus information

Some people, especially the elderly, have poor eyesight. They may not be able to see the service number of the bus that is approaching the bus stop, until the bus is close by. By that time, it may be too late to signal for the bus to stop. The passenger will also have to strain the eyes to look out for the number of all the approaching buses.

I suggest that we use technology to solve this problem. The approaching bus can transmit its service number electronically to a display located at the bus stop. This display can display not only the bus number but also the main rout and destination of the bus. It will be a good service to the passengers and may encourage more people to take the bus.

I hope that the bus operators will take up this suggestion. Perhaps the Land Transport Authority can provide the encouragement by paying for the infrastructure cost.

Tan Kin Lian