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Keeping commuters on the move

Ms Lucille Annabelle Latiff developed an interest in land transport when she studied about the various transport challenges that cities around the world face.
Ms Lucille Annabelle Latiff developed an interest in land transport when she studied about the various transport challenges that cities around the world face.PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

As an assistant manager for bus service development at the Land Transport Authority (LTA), Ms Lucille Annabelle Latiff’s work involves mainly issuing bus service licences and evaluating bus service applications and their uses.

Ms Annabelle also works together with bus operators to improve public transport services and be the preferred choice of commuters.

In addition, she is part of the project team developing on-demand bus services in Singapore that will spearhead a new way for commuters to take public buses.

A tender has been published to call for proposals for on-demand and dynamically-routed public bus services from the transport industry. Her team will evaluate those proposals before executing operational trials.

This involves her team to work closely with other relevant divisions and groups within LTA, such as bus operations division and IT, cybersecurity & digital services group, system architecture design, to seek their input and understand concerns from their perspectives.

Says the 24-year-old: “It was a big challenge for us when preparing the requirements of the tender, as the on-demand concept is relatively new and not many cities have implemented on-demand bus services based on commuter demand and along dynamic routes.”

Learning on the job

One of the highlights of this exciting project was a work trip to Australia, where Ms Annabelle got to learn more about the on-demand transport pilots that were recently implemented in New South Wales. She even had the chance to book a trip using a mobile app for the first on-demand bus service in Bankstown.

“The study trip was an eye-opening experience and I hope to be able to apply what I have learnt when LTA embarks on our very own on-demand bus service trial this year,” she says.

Ms Annabelle, who joined LTA in December 2016, first became interested in the transport industry when she was still a student in National Junior College

She recalls: “I developed an interest in land transport when I studied about the various transport challenges that cities around the world face, such as traffic congestion and pollution, as well as the various solutions that cities come up with to tackle these problems.”

She went on to study Geography at the National University of Singapore.

The job held some surprises for her when she first entered the industry. She learnt that public transport is not simply about connecting places and ferrying people from one location to another, and that many factors must be considered before a bus service can commence.

She explains: “For example, assessments on the bus volume and passenger patronage of each bus stop must be made before deciding if the proposed use of the bus stop can be supported. In addition, available resources and vehicular traffic must also be taken into account.”

“Of course, the safety of passengers is of paramount importance.”

Striving for improvement 

There is never a dull day at work for Ms Annabelle as she gets to interact with different groups of people, from colleagues in other divisions to bus operators.

She is proud that her work enables her to help shape the future of transport and contribute meaningfully to the everyday lives of Singaporeans.

“Through improving bus services, I’m also able to encourage more Singaporeans to take up public transport, while contributing towards shaping a more liveable and environmentally-sustainable city,” she says.

Although she struggles with tight deadlines amid her fast-paced work environment at times, she usually gets around this by writing down her tasks in order of priority in a notebook.

Ms Annabelle also appreciates how different divisions value teamwork and will come together to help one another when needed. For instance, when the operating hours of the East-West MRT line were shortened to facilitate rail renewal and maintenance renewal works, she was heartened to see fellow LTA staff working together to ensure smooth bus operations.

For those who wish to join the industry, she emphasises that working within tight deadlines due to the dynamic nature of public transport is to be expected.

Strong communication and interpersonal skills are also important because of the constant need to engage and work with others.

“While being part of the public transport sector may seem like a thankless job, as our work is mostly behind the scenes, it is certainly rewarding when you see commuters enjoying new bus services that connect them to new places,” she says.