With the pandemic reducing traffic on the roads and changing commuting patterns, underused road lanes could be converted to cycling and bus lanes.
Underused road lanes could be turned into cycling or bus lanes Underused road lanes could be turned into cycling or bus lanes. PHOTO: ST FILE

With the pandemic reducing traffic on the roads and changing commuting patterns, certain underused road lanes can be converted to cycling and bus lanes, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung yesterday.

There may also be scope to pedestrianise certain roads, said Mr. Ong, as he set out his ministry's plans following the President's Address.

"The lower traffic and new travel patterns brought about by COVID-19 have opened a window of opportunity to re-imagine our road infrastructure," he said as he sketched out the possibilities. Other cities abroad, including Athens in Greece, have moved to reclaim road space for pedestrians and cyclists, as the pandemic alters commuting habits.

The minister also noted that COVID-19 has led to increased adoption of telecommuting and staggered working hours. "This has led to more sustainable travel patterns. We will explore ways to make some of these changes permanent," he added.

The Government will also carry out its plan to expand the cycling path network from 460km now to 1,320km by 2030.

Mr. Ong said these initiatives will help Singapore in its goal to become a car-lite nation, along with other measures such as a zero vehicle growth rate and phasing out private vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2040. He also outlined other plans for land transport as well as the aviation and maritime sectors.

For land transport, he said Singapore will continue to work towards the vision of a city where 90% of peak-hour journeys can be completed within 45 minutes. Within towns, residents should be able to reach their nearest neighbourhood centre in 20 minutes.

Resources will continue to be invested in the public transport system to maintain reliability, he added, while new MRT stations and lines will be opened almost every year. The Ministry of Transport (MOT) will also work with the Public Transport Council to improve public transport to help those with mobility challenges, said Mr. Ong.

He added that expanding the public transport system to better serve Singaporeans requires major infrastructure and recurrent expenditure. "But this is essential public spending, which has to be carried out with financial prudence."