Monday, April 27, 2009

Insufficient parking spaces

Two months ago, I visited Nanyang Technological University to give a talk. I cannot find a parking space near the meeting place. I had to park far away and walk there.

Last week, I took my mother for medical consultation at National University Hospital. I could not find a parking space until after 15 minutes.

Today, I visted Singapore Polytechinic for a meeting. I faced the same situation. All parking spaces are taken up. So, I had to park quite a distance.

It seems that many places have too many cars, probably driven by the employees. They do not provide parking space for visitors. 

We have too many cars and insufficient parking spaces. It is better to take a taxi or public transport, and save the trouble of looking for a parking space. 

The Government should not allow more cars to be sold, if our roads and parking spaces are insufficient to cope with the load.

The case for public transport

In a small rural town in a country, it is necessary to have a private car. The roads are usually empty and there is no public transport. Driving is convenient and a pleasure.

In a heavily populated city, the situation is different. The roads are congested and traffic is crawling most of the time. It takes a long time to travel on the road. To add to the hassle, it is difficult to find a parking space. Driving is no fun. It is a big hassle.

Many people are forced to use a private car due to inadequate public transport. This is now the situation in Singapore. The roads are congested and there is insufficient parking space most of the time.  We have a large increase of population in recent years, and have not expanded our roads and parking spaces to accommodate the large increase in private cars.

The solution is to improve our public transport rapidly. We should follow the model of Hong Kong where most people prefer to use public transport, for its convenience and low cost. I have not experienced it personally, but many people said that it is possible to get a feeder bus within 5 minutes and it takes the passenger direct to the destination.

 A top priority action is to improve the feeder services in each of our towns. Like Hong Kong, we can encourage the use of small buses owned by the individual operators. We have to keep the cost low, by reducing the road tax paid by the operators of these services. If this is available, many car owners will be happy to take a feeder service to the MRT train station or bus terminus.

 We have to introduce express bus services that connect the different towns. These services should have just a few major stops to reduce the travelling time. All passengers should be assured of a seat. These new services should be introduced in addition to the existing services. When they are popular, some of the existing services can be withdrawn in a rationalisation exercise.

 We can reduce energy consumption and improve efficiency significantly by getting more people to use public transport, instead of private cars. I use public transport regularly (and leave my car at home) and confirm that it is now my preferred mode of travel. I wish to encourage many car owners to give it a try.

 Tan Kin Lian




Saturday, April 25, 2009

Improve public transport - by HK Lim

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Main Body
Much has been said about our public transport, specifically SBS and
SMRT. And this article that appeared in the MyPaper (authored by a
certain Tan KL) hit the nail in the head.

The article ( was
about Real Time Bus Arrival Information System and Intelligent Route
Information System. The former was developed by our Land Transport
Authority while the latter was done by SBS. Two expensive systems that
hits some snags lately.

With much knowledge, technical competency, and talent massed in our
small island, there is so big to wonder why we cannot come up with a
system that will match or surpass what other countries are able to
develop that can handle 8000 buses running on 700 routes with 17,500
bus stops.

There is much available information within our grasp, for example,
from the Internet, on the topic "intelligent transport systems." I am
giving you some links below and I am also attaching some documents
downloaded from the Net that might help our think tanks at the various
sectors of our government to think out of the box.,3800010403,39165346,00.htm

To get the feel of what the community is talking about on the issue
about our public transport, we no need to go so far. The Net is abuzz
with their grouses and suggestions.

If we are serious about providing a transport system that befits our
status as a first world nation, we can just refer to this FAQ provided
by SBS ( Are we
really using our technical competencies to nail the issues at hand?

A*Star can lend its brains, funded by EDB, assisted by MOT, LTA, URA,
MND, IDA and SLA to develop a system, or shall we say OUTSOURCE a
system to our SME companies. Or we can straight away ask ST
Electronics to develop one, of course with the help of the respective
agencies. We can ask our CDC's to gather the problems encountered by
our constituencies in their daily commute to-and-from work.

Technology wise, we can utilize RFID, GPS, GPRS, Gyro, Bluetooth and
Zigbee technologies and combine them to form a state-of-the-art
solution. And we can also implement simple solutions like preventing a
bus driver from packing the bus. If the bus is authorized to carry 38
seated passengers, then taking up 5 standing passengers is okay. But,
taking up 15 more will further delay the bus, and all the other buses
behind it. Simple as that!

Hopefully, the recipients of this email will forward or let their
respective bosses or inform the concerned parties on this so we can
finally put a stop to the blogs, forums, and tweets from our netizens.
Much has been said, we've had enough!

Best regards,
HK Lim

Friday, April 24, 2009

Commuters have to accept transfers

Many commuters said that they like to have direct bus services, instead of making transfers. This preference has its drawbacks.

Singapore has more than 100 direct bus services, but it does not produce an efficient system, leading to the following:
a)  Late arrival of buses
b)  Overcrowding
c)  Bunching of buses

A more efficient system is one that make use of transfers. Each town (e.g. Toa Payoh) should be served by a local bus (maybe using small buses) that carry the people within the town to the bus interchange, MRT station or town center. Those who need to travel long distance can take the intertown bus or MRT.

Here are the attractions of a local bus service:
a) Waiting time for a bus should be less than 5 minutes
b) More stops are available within 150 meters of one's home
c)  Can be managed by individual operators, similar to the taxi system
d) More buses are put into operation during peak hours

Here are the advantages of inter-town buses:
a)  Each passenger can have a seat
b)  There are few stops, reducing the travel time

People are used to transfers when they take an earoplane or MRT. The same concept should be applied to the bus services. If commuers accept this idea, the public bus services can be improved tremendously to support the MRT service.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Failure of public transport in Singapore

I am caught in a bad traffic congestion on several roads today. There are too many cars on our roads.

What is the underlying cause? It is the failure of public transport. To overcome the inadequate and inconvenient bus services, too many people buy cars. There are too many cars, in relation to our roads and parking spaces. Driving a car in these conditions can be tiring and frustrating.

Many people find Hong Kong to have a better system. They rely almost entirely on public transport. It is easy to get a bus or train to reach to most parts of Hong Kong. Few people need to own cars to get around.

There are just a few train services in Hong Kong, but they are well connected by light buses. This gives a total system that is convenient to the people.  I hope that Singapore can implement some of the measures adopted in Hong Kong. 

Tan Kin Lian

Insufficient parking spaces at National University Hospital

I took my mother for medical checkup at National University Hospital. There were insufficient paking space. Many cars waited in a long queue to enter the car park, which was full.

My mother had to wait for me at the lobby of the hospital for quite a while, while I searched for a parking space. It was a bad experience. I thought of abandoning the car at any available spot, even illegally.

The hospital administrators probably had reserved parking spaces, but what about the public? The next time, it makes more sense to go to the hospital by taxi or public transport. But my mother needs to use a wheelchair.

At least, the hospital could have engaged people to provide a valet service. But, there was no such service! The welfare of the public does not seem to be of much concern to them.

Friday, April 10, 2009

How to build the MRT stations closer together

Did you wonder why the distance between the stations on the NS Line and the NE Line at Dhoby Ghaut is so far apart? It take a long walk to move from one station to another to take a different line.

I guess that the reason is that the NE Line is built many years after the NS Line was completed. It was not possible to build the station closer, as the tunnelling work could affect the operations of the NS Line and could be dangerous.

In London, the distance between the interchange stations for some of the lines are also far apart - possibly for the same reason.

Could it be possible for the stations to be build closer together, so that the commuters do not have to walk a long distance? I can think of two possible solutions, which are feasible from an economic and engineering angle. What are there? I invite your views.

It is important for a solution to be fuond, as many new lines are being build. We should keep the stations closer together and reduce the walking time.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Bus stops as landmarks

I suggest that the Land Transport Authority should use the bus stops as landmarks. They should name each bus stop and make the sign visible from a distance. They can be used to give directions, for example, go along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5, pass bus stop XXXX, turn right into Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park 2, and then 2A.

The bus stops can also be used as the landmark to take taxis. For example, pick me up 100 years after bus stop XXXX at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5.

We can make it as a convenient that taxis can pick passengers 100 years from a specific bus stop.

The use of bus stops as landmarks is better than to use building address (as these buildings are usually not easily visible).

Friday, April 3, 2009

Expensive and unnecesary vehicle inspection

I sent my car for inspection this morning. It cost me $62. The inspection took 10 minutes. The mechanic said that most of the work is computerised.

Why should it be so costly for 10 minutes of computerised work? My car is quite new, so why is it necessary for inspection?

Somebody decided to set the rule, and incur unnecessary and high cost for the public. I hope that our politicians will think about the people and help to remove some of the wastefulness.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Traffic Police now issues advisory

In the past, the Traffic Police is strict. They issue a fine for each traffic offence.

This has now changed. My daughter received a letter from the Traffic Police. Her car was found to have exceeded the speed limit along Lornie Road. The letter said that the offence merited a fine of $150 and 4 demerit points. But, the Traffic Police is issuing an advisory in this instance - i.e. they are not asking for payment of a fine. Wow!

My sceptical friend said that general election is around the corner. But, I think that the Traffic Police is adopting a more friendly, advisory approach, and should be commended.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bus driver gave way

I had to turn out of a side road into a busy road. The bus driver stopped to let me through. I appreciate the kindness in giving way.