From greater rail reliability to greener buses: 5 things to know about latest Transport Ministry announcements

A SBS bus passes under moving SMRT trains along Ang Mo Kio Ave 1. The Ministry of Transport announced new initiatives during the Budget debate in 2017.
A SBS bus passes under moving SMRT trains along Ang Mo Kio Ave 1. The Ministry of Transport announced new initiatives during the Budget debate in 2017.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - An upgrade for the Bukit Panjang LRT system, greener vehicles and tougher standards for rail reliability were some of the new initiatives the Ministry of Transport announced on Wednesday (March 8).

"Public transport is common space, where we get to interact with fellow Singaporeans, and where collective memories are made," said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan in his Committee of Supply speech.

"Let's shape this common space together, to raise our quality of life and make Singapore among the most liveable cities in the world."

Here are the key takeaways from the debate in Parliament.

1. Rail reliability target raised

Tenders will also be called to replace the 66 first-generation trains on the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL), which are as old as 30 years. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Mr Khaw has set a new target for the island's MRT reliability by this year - for trains to travel an average of 300,000km before a major disruption occurs.

If achieved, this will be a 72 per cent improvement over last year's results, of an average of 174,000km before encountering delays of more than five minutes.

In his speech, Mr Khaw said the target for next year is 400,000km.

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2. Bukit Panjang LRT to get complete overhaul and upgrading

The Land Transport Authority said that it would be sourcing for new trains, power rail, signalling system and various other critical components. PHOTO: ST FILE

Plans to fix the problematic Bukit Panjang LRT system once and for all have been set in motion, but commuters are likely to have to wait a few more years for a new and more reliable ride.

In his Committee of Supply speech on Wednesday, Mr Khaw said that the authorities have started the process for its renewal.

"We target to call a tender this year for a complete replacement of its ageing components and an upgrade of its systems," he added.

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3. Expand trial of hybrid and electric buses

A BYD K9 ebus fully electric bus in Singapore. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ (BUSES[IN]GAPORE!)

Bus commuters can expect to have a greener ride in the future, as the Government is looking to add more hybrid and electric models to the public bus fleet.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will be calling tenders to buy 50 hybrid buses and 60 electric buses this year, announced Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng.

This will allow the LTA to expand its trial of such "green" vehicles, which while environmentally-friendly, are more costly and may not be suitable for the island's tropical climate, he said.

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4. New jobs in transport sectors

About 13,000 new jobs will be created in the air and sea transport sectors by 2025, as Singapore continues to expand airport and port operations, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo.

The two sectors currently contribute around 10 per cent to Singapore's GDP and provide nearly 250,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, about 8,000 new jobs in the public transport sector are expected by 2030. 

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5. Open strollers to be allowed on public buses


Families with children will be allowed to board all public buses with open strollers from April - one of a slew of family-friendly measures that will be introduced on public transport.

Second Transport Minister Ng Chee Meng said the future transport system will be more inclusive and must be designed "thoughtfully" to serve the needs of those with disabilities, families with young children and the elderly.

The LTA will also collaborate with disabilities support agency SG Enable to use Redhill MRT station as a testbed for new mobility technologies and infrastructure to improve accessibility for those with disabilities.

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