Shelters, fans to make wait for buses in Little India 'more tolerable', says LTA

Mr Yeo Teck Guan, director of public transport regulation, Land Transport Authority (LTA), leaving the subordinate court on May 17, 2012 after the Committee of Inquiry (COI) hearing into the breakdowns of MRT trains in December 2011. Bus sh
Mr Yeo Teck Guan, director of public transport regulation, Land Transport Authority (LTA), leaving the subordinate court on May 17, 2012 after the Committee of Inquiry (COI) hearing into the breakdowns of MRT trains in December 2011. Bus shelters will be built for foreign workers waiting for private buses at Tekka Lane and Hampshire Road so they can wait in greater comfort, Mr Yeo Teck Guan, group director of public transport at the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has told the Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the Dec 8 unrest in Little India. -- ST PHOTO:  WONG KWAI CHOW

Bus shelters will be built for foreign workers waiting for private buses at Tekka Lane and Hampshire Road so they can wait in greater comfort, Mr Yeo Teck Guan, group director of public transport at the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has told the Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the Dec 8 unrest in Little India.

Shelters will be built and the area paved so the workers would not be waiting in muddy conditions if it rains. Fans will also be installed for greater comfort, he said.

Committee chairman G Pannir Selvam had highlighted the importance of bus and transport problems, noting that these have given rise to riots in other countries. It was, therefore, important to ensure there is "no waiting", he told Mr Yeo.

"I take the point we should shorten the waiting time. But in Little India, the foreign workers were waiting very patiently," said Mr Yeo. He said that one of the steps LTA is taking moving forward is to make sure foreign workers have facilities in the vicinity of the bus bay so they can "queue in relative comfort".

"Although we cannot make sure of shorter waiting times, what we can do is manage waiting, make it more tolerable," he explained.

While there are fewer boarding and alighting areas for foreign workers waiting for private buses in Little India now - two compared with seven points before 2010 - Mr Yeo said private bus operators had not raised concerns about overcrowded boarding areas.

Even with smaller bus fleets and shorter operation hours after the riot, crowds are orderly, and are usually cleared by 9.15pm, said Mr Yeo.

When asked by committee member John De Payva - who had voiced doubts about whether large crowds could be cleared in time and without issue - whether the present arrangement is sufficient, Mr Yeo said firmly: "Yes, it should be sufficient.

The LTA works closely with operators to keep its finger on the situation in Little India LTA staff have been in Little India every Sunday after the riot, said Mr Yeo.

Fleets to and from Little India have not been restored to full strength after the riot. But nearly 60 per cent of the fleets are now deployed, with more on festive occasions or the first Sunday of every month, right after payday.

Barricades and better lighting have also been set up in waiting areas.

"The feedback I got (from foreign workers) is that they were quite happy queues were more orderly," said Mr Yeo.

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