The proposed changes to the city's civic district are expected to hit coach and tour bus drivers hard, even as pedestrians welcomed the area's upcoming transformation.
Buses ferrying tourists on city tours wait in Connaught Drive after dropping them off at Merlion Park. "This is the closest place for us to wait, because once the tour guide calls we have to get there to pick up tourists quickly or they would get angry," driver Dennis Ng, 47, told The Straits Times.
Connaught Drive, a four-lane one-way road, will be turned into a two-way road, with access limited to only coaches and buses.
Kerbside parking space on both sides of the road was removed on Tuesday, said an on-site notice put up by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
The changes, part of a sweeping transformation of the Padang area, include widening walkways and pedestrianising certain roads. They will be completed in time for next year's SG50 celebrations.
The $66 million revamp, announced on Thursday by National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan on his blog, will turn the civic district, which includes landmarks like the Victoria Theatre, into a "walkable park".
Tour buses have been offered the off-street carpark in Bayfront Avenue as an alternative but this is almost a 3km drive from the Merlion and too far away, said drivers.
When The Straits Times visited Connaught Drive yesterday, tourist buses ranging from 22-seater minibuses to 51-seater coaches still lined both sides of the road even though the parking spaces have been painted over.
Drivers said they would wait in Connaught Drive if they were taking tourists on city tours. "This is one of the most convenient locations - it's near popular areas like Bugis," said Mr Izdham Gaffor, 27.
"(The Government) has to give us a proper alternative; we are supporting the tourism industry," he said, adding that the tour buses wait for only 20 to 30 minutes and do not obstruct traffic.
Members of the Singapore Cricket Club and the Singapore Recreation Club, sited at opposite ends of the Padang, said the move will disrupt them minimally, since both clubs have on-site parking.
Others working in the area are looking forward to the changes.
A 24-year-old artist, who wanted to be known only as Miss Tay, said the developments might make parking in the area harder but this was all right since many theatre-goers use public transport anyway.
"It will definitely make the area a lot more pleasant to walk in."
Attractions like the Asian Civilisations Museum are also looking forward to organising joint programmes with its neighbours.
"The redevelopment project has great value in returning focus to the Singapore River," said museum director Alan Chong.
This article was first published on Dec 6, 2014.
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