North-South Expressway to have express bus lanes, cycling route; 85% to use public transport as main travel mode by 2050s

An artist's impression of the proposed North-South Expressway, featuring cycling and walking paths built on the surface level to mirror the expressway. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT
An artist's impression of proposed changes to Bencoolen Street. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT

SINGAPORE - A vision for a car-lite Singapore was spelt out by the Government on Thursday, in which 85 per cent of commuters will use public transport as their main mode of travel by 2050s.

This is an update of the current goal to have 75 per cent use public transport as their main mode of travel by 2030.

In an Addendum to last week's President's Address, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Thursday (Jan 21) laid out his ministry's roadmap to forge a society where people will give up their cars, and choose instead to walk, cycle, and take public transport.

Mr Khaw announced two bold projects that will see road lanes being converted for use by public transport, cyclists and pedestrians.

On the proposed 21.5km North-South Expressway (NSE), one of the lanes of the dual, three-lane carriageway will be dedicated to express bus services. On the surface level, cycling and walking paths will also be built to mirror the route of the NSE.

The second project will see tree-lined pedestrian footpaths and a cycling lane being built on a 450m stretch of Bencoolen Street, between Middle Road and Bras Basah Road.

Two of the four original car lanes will be converted for this purpose, and the public can expect to enjoy these new facilities in 2017. Cyclists can also enjoy better connectivity between Rochor Canal and Bukit Timah in the north, to the city centre in the south.

The section of Bencoolen Street to be redeveloped has been closed since October 2011, for the construction of the Downtown Line 3's Bencoolen Station.

Mr Khaw also said that new housing estates, such as Bidadari Town, will be designed to encourage people to cycle, walk or take public transport. Existing estates, such as Tampines and Ang Mo Kio, will be pilots for a fully integrated and seamless walking and cycling network, he added.

Besides infrastructure, Mr Khaw said that rail reliability will continue to be a top priority, with the Land Transport Authority and train operators recruiting more engineers and technicians. More stringent maintenance requirements will also be implemented.

Bus regularity and punctuality are also set to improve, under the bus contracting model, he added.

He noted that heavy investments are being made in public transport, with a projected $36 billion in capital expenditure in the next five years. The rail network will be doubled to 360km in the next 15 years, and eight in 10 households will be within a 10-minute walk of a station by 2030.

In a blog post accompanying his ministry's Addendum, Mr Khaw also named cities such as Seoul, Hamburg and Madrid, which are moving in a car-lite direction.

"There is a growing consensus among developed cities that fewer cars mean less traffic congestion, less air and noise pollution, and more land for public spaces and amenities," he wrote.

He quoted founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's speech in 1975 of how a city should be "pleasant, green, and cool", with "safety and convenience for the pedestrian".

"Can we build on Mr Lee's legacy of a clean and green city and his people-centric vision to transform Singapore into a city that prides itself on public transport, walking and cycling, instead of driving?" wrote Mr Khaw .


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