Some of their suggestions echoed popular calls that have been rejected time and again by the Government; other proposals may be downright unpopular, admitted the focus group appointed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to review its Concept Plan 2011.
Either way, green transport will have a key role in building a sustainable city, said the 30-member group.
For one, a dedicated bicycle lane network is necessary, and Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, co-chair of the group and director of the Institute of Policy Studies, hopes the Government will act on the suggestion even though this has been raised unsuccessfully in the past.
There should also be more and better secured parking facilities for bicycles, as well as changing facilities for cyclists.
Private transport, on the other hand, should be discouraged by reducing the number of car parking lots or by charging higher parking fees in the city and town centres.
Mr Lee Tzu Yang, the group co-chair and chairman of Shell Companies in Singapore, told reporters the measures may be unpopular but were targeted ways to limit traffic flow into certain areas.
He said: “Everybody supports the use of public transport; they just want somebody else to use the public transport.”
The group said that lower public transport fares as well as more convenient, comfortable and frequent buses and trains would make a difference. For example, season passes for unlimited travel across different transport modes can be introduced, and economical shuttle services to MRT or LRT stations can be provided.
The carrot-and-stick approach should also apply to waste reduction and recycling, recommended the group – one of two appointed in January to discuss issues in the URA’s Concept Plan, which maps out the long-term direction for land use and transportation in Singapore.
Higher waste-disposal fees – tied to the amount of trash collected from each household – can help reduce wastage, for example, while recycling facilities could be located at public transport nodes with rebates on public transport fares to encourage recycling.
This was the first time the group, which is looking into sustainability and identity, was presenting its draft recommendations. Six members, including the co-chairs, met 200 people in a forum as part of URA’s overall public consultation exercise.
One member of the public, Mr Jeffrey Chong, asked if the panel – which included Nature Society president Shawn Lum, South West Community Development Council member Tiew Chee Meng and National University Singapore geography department chief Shirlena Huang – had considered introducing urban farming.
Mr Tiew said land scarcity in Singapore was an obstacle, and a green spirit must first be inculcated in Singaporeans.
After seeking the public’s feedback, the focus group will fine-tune its recommendations before submitting its final report to URA, which reviews its Concept Plan once every 10 years. The current review is scheduled to be completed next year.
Meanwhile, the other focus group looking into quality of life and ageing will present its recommendations on Monday.
The public can give their feedback on yesterday’s preliminary recommendations at spring.ura.gov.sg/conceptplan2011/publicforum.
Source : Today – 7 May 2010