Transport Minister on why it is so hard to get people to give up cars for public transport

Transport Minister on why it is so hard to get people to give up cars for public transport
Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said on Friday: "We have chosen something which I believe is more simple, more stable, easier and more straightforward to implement and to police." The new COE rules, which will take effect next February, stipulate a capping of brake horsepower for Category A cars at 130bhp on top of the existing requirement that limits the engine capacity of these cars to 1,600cc.

SINGAPORE - In Part 1 of a RazorTV interview, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew shares on why it is so hard to get people to give up cars and take public transport instead.

He also reveals how he copes with criticism directed at his ministry, and reflects on his political career.

Why is it so hard to get people to give up cars and use public transport?

Understandably so. Behavioural changes are typically the most difficult and for any person who is accustomed to behaving in a particular way, in this case driving a car or using a private vehicle, it is not so easy to convince him or her to make that shift to public transport.

I can understand a little bit because I am also a driver. I've used public transport quite extensively in the past, when I didn't have to move around so much. But now, in my present job when I have to travel to quite a few different places in a particular day, I understand the difficulty if one were to rely largely or solely on public transport to do so.

Therefore, people who give feedback and say that it is not so easy - my job needs this, my family circumstances (need this) - I can understand why that is so.

The difficulty of course is that in Singapore, land being as scarce as it is and roads already taking up 12 per cent of the space compared to 14 per cent for housing, expanding the road infrastructure probably means us having to live closer together, less space for greenery, parks and so on. We don't want to do that.

So, difficult though it is for some to make that transition, I think we need to work harder to make it as convenient, as conducive as possible for them to do so. Which is why we are putting so much effort into this land transport master plan (revised version) that has come out this year.

The plan spells out our vision for the long-term, but also makes sure that people understand and know that we are fully committed to addressing some of the short term and immediate issues.

Increasing capacity, delivering a more reliable service, making sure that the buses come more regularly, less crowded, invested significant sums of money in that direction, buying more trains, continuing to build more lines - these are really as much for the short-term. And in the longer-term, the vision is to put more people to live within closer proximity to a train station so they can choose to either walk, maybe take a short bicycle ride, or if they wish to, take a feeder to a station.

Hopefully, if we have better connectivity to where they need to go to, if we have a higher quality of service, I think we can make public transport a more viable alternative for more Singaporeans.

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