Strategic investment in manpower needed to build world-class public transport system: Khaw Boon Wan

Citing Singapore's achievements in healthcare, Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan said that the public transport sector should draw lessons from it.
Citing Singapore's achievements in healthcare, Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan said that the public transport sector should draw lessons from it.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Building a world-class public transport system here requires a strategic investment in manpower, and the industry should draw lessons from the healthcare sector, Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan said on Friday (March 29).

To support industry transformation, a clear, multi-year strategy of consistent investment in capabilities and skills development is needed, he added.

"To succeed in industry transformation, it is my strong belief that we need to forge a strong 'One Team' spirit between Government, regulator and private operators," Mr Khaw said at the Land Transport Excellence Awards.

"This 'One Team' spirit, I think, has been the key factor behind the successful improvement in rail reliability in recent years... (and) will remain important."

Citing the country's achievements in healthcare - most recently with Singapore General Hospital being ranked the third-best hospital in the world by Newsweek magazine - Mr Khaw said that public transport should try to emulate it.

One key strategy was the Health Manpower Development Programme, which Mr Khaw, who was the Health Minister from 2004 to 2011, was involved in.

Healthcare staff learnt the latest sub-specialty skills and capabilities from "the best medical centres in the world" and as Singapore's consultants pioneered new techniques, foreign doctors and nurses came here to pick up the latest skills, he said.

Consistent investment in medical research and translational medicine led to the development and patenting of new medical devices and innovative solutions.

 
 
 
 

The result is that Singapore's public hospitals are now at the cutting edge of medicine, enabling subsidised patient access to the best specialists and sub-specialists, said Mr Khaw.

At the awards ceremony held at the Singapore Expo Max Atria, the North East Line received the inaugural MOT Challenge Shield award for Most Reliable MRT line, crossing one million train-km mean kilometre between failure (MKBF) last year.

The MKBF is an internationally accepted benchmark for rail reliability performance and measures the mean distance travelled before a train fault that lasts more than five minutes.

The Most Improved MRT Line title went to the North-South Line for making the most progress, with a more than 10-fold increase in MKBF, from 89,000 train-km in 2017 to 894,000 train-km last year.

"The glitches (on the Circle Line and the East-West Line) remind us that we are not yet perfect and that we have to work harder and smarter," Mr Khaw said.

"But our MRT system today is far more reliable than it was in 2017. We have turned the corner."