Bukit Panjang transport hub delayed

It will open in 2017 instead of this year and will have childcare facility

The Bukit Panjang Integrated Transport Hub, expected to open this year,  will now open in 2017, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday.

This is because the developer, Sim Lian, has faced construction difficulties in connecting the integrated hub to the Bukit Panjang MRT station, part of stage two of the Downtown Line.

The connection crosses under a 13m-wide canal, said an LTA spokesman. "Localised diversion of the canal and staged construction of the link is time-consuming and the difficult ground at that area added further difficulty," it explained in a statement yesterday.

But when completed, the new integrated transport hub will come with the bonus of 200 childcare spaces for a neighbourhood that is 40 per cent made up of young families.

The childcare facility will be included in Hillion mall, a retail space around the Bukit Panjang LRT station, the upcoming Bukit Panjang MRT station, a bus interchange and three blocks of residential homes.

The LTA also announced that a new slip road to Kranji Expressway (KJE) will open in 2017, giving residents in the area a direct route onto the expressway. Motorists now have to make a loop around Woodlands Road before they hit the KJE.

In addition, a flyover along Upper Bukit Timah Road will be completed by the end of this year, joining the Bukit Panjang flyover that was completed in April, to ease traffic overall along the Woodlands Road corridor.

Two new hawker centres are also on the horizon for residents: one in Bangkit Road which will open by the end of the year, and another in Senja Road in the next five years.

The increased choice and competition will hopefully lead to lower prices, said Mr Liang Eng Hwa, who is MP for the Zhenghua ward in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.

He was speaking to reporters ahead of a ministerial visit to the ward today by Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew. Such ministerial visits take place almost every month, and their aim is to give newer ministers a sense of residents' major concerns.

Like Sengkang and Punggol, Bukit Panjang has a young demographic, with almost half of its population comprising young families.

To meet the high demand for childcare services, 10 new childcare centres are being built or expanded, with three of them already operational. In total, the number of spaces offered will be more than double what was available four years ago, said Mr Liang.

The town, already home to large swathes of nature reserves and reservoirs, will also see more green spaces: Zhenghua Park will be extended and there will be more park connectors and cycling paths.

The raft of improvements come on top of upgrades over the last five years that Mr Liang said has relieved residents' public transport woes.

They include 68 new buses, under the Bus Service Enhancement Programme, added to 17 bus services that ply Bukit Panjang, and 13 train cars added to the breakdown-plagued LRT network since last year.

It is also building two more exit-only platforms at the Choa Chu Kang LRT station, to be completed by the end of next year, to deal with the crowds.

Mr Liang said he lobbied hard for the improvements in Bukit Panjang by capitalising on the Government's policy changes on the national level.

For example, a new polyclinic will be built within the next five years as part of the Health Ministry's efforts to make primary care more accessible, he noted.

"You have to capitalise on policy changes and be the first to ask for things (because) when ministries change their policies, they need to find places to implement them," he said.

"And there is a need here, so I'm able to justify it. So I'll volunteer Bukit Panjang for such projects."

yanliang@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 28, 2015, with the headline 'Bukit Panjang transport hub delayed'. Print Edition | Subscribe