Making way for more roads not the solution

Letter from Goh Si Guim Today Online 14 Sep 11;

I REFER to the article "New dual four-lane road in Bukit Brown to ease heavy traffic" (Sept 13). I am dismayed that more land will be mowed down to accommodate the relentless and unsustainable car population growth in Singapore.

Bukit Brown was earmarked as a land bank for future housing development. Unfortunately, an ugly stab will be made into its tranquillity as yet another stretch of land, large enough to provide eight lanes, would be conceded to vehicular traffic.

Many cars on the road end up carrying only one occupant and, hence, are not efficiently utilised. Instead, they take up land space and spew tons of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

With the expansion of the rail network, it is time to relook the current disincentives to curb car usage. The measures taken to cope with car numbers in recent decades, such as Electronic Road Pricing, are nowhere successful thus far.

More persuasive action is needed to nudge more people to use the rail system, which is touted to be one of the best in the world but has still been found wanting. I hope that when the entire system is operational, the current undesirable conditions would ease.

As we have done in many other areas, let us lead the world in caring for our environment, such as by doing away with cars as much as possible and fully utilising the rail network. In a small dot like Singapore, we can do better when we set a common goal.

Rethink road widening affecting cemetery
Straits Times 16 Sep 11;

I AM shocked by the Land Transport Authority's (LTA) plans for a dual four-lane road along Lornie Road and the Pan-Island Expressway that will cut into the existing Bukit Brown Cemetery, affecting some 5,000 of the estimated 100,000 graves ('New road to ease Lornie Road jams'; Tuesday).

Although the cemetery, with its rich cultural heritage, is reserved housing land, plans for the road extension are premature. There is insufficient research into the area's historical and ecological value for a more informed judgment.

Given the scarcity of space, road widening runs contrary to developing a more sustainable and environmentally friendly transportation system, an issue which previous transport minister Raymond Lim had acknowledged.

He had stated that increasing road capacity and deploying traffic engineering measures would not in themselves guarantee smooth-flowing roads ('Keeping traffic flowing smoothly'; Jan 31, 2008). Additional lanes and new roads would attract more traffic and congestion would soon return.

His remarks apply precisely to Lornie Road. Decades-long efforts of road widening and other civil engineering works resulting in the appearance of a network of viaducts streaming into even Braddell and Upper Thomson Roads have not improved traffic conditions.

These measures will also create more discomfort for residents in the vicinity as they find their surroundings increasingly replaced by noisy and inhospitable vehicle carriageways.

The LTA should consider alternatives first, including Electronic Road Pricing.

With ERP, motorists can be persuaded not to choke the Lornie Road exit and use less congested exits along Bukit Timah Road, Eng Neo Avenue and Jalan Toa Payoh.

If we persist with the short-term solution of road widening, the traffic problem will not be solved. Transport planners must come up with more imaginative, culturally sensitive and environmentally sustainable solutions.

Liew Kai Khiun

More lanes for Lornie criticised
Straits Times 16 Sep 11;

I AM dismayed that more land is being used to accommodate car growth ('New road to ease Lornie Road jams'; Tuesday).

Bukit Brown Cemetery was earmarked as a land bank for future housing development. Unfortunately, an ugly stab has been made at its tranquillity.

Most cars on the road have single occupants. Hence they are not efficiently used and add to the heat-trapping volume of greenhouse gases.

As we have done in many other areas, let us also lead the world in caring for our environment, in deeds like doing away with the cars as much as possible and utilising the rail network.

In a small place like Singapore, we can do better when we set it as our common goal.

Goh Si Guim

Improve our public transport system to reduce reliance on cars
Letter from Jose Raymond Executive Director, Singapore Environment Council
Today Online 20 Sep 11;

WE REFER to the announcement "New dual four-lane road in Bukit Brown to ease heavy traffic" (Sept 13), about the planned construction of a new road by 2016 that will cut across Bukit Brown Cemetery.

According to the Land Transport Authority, there are heavy traffic jams along Lornie Road during morning and evening peak hours, with traffic expected to increase between 20 and 30 per cent by 2020.

To accommodate construction of the road and the proposed residential development, it is obvious the graves at the cemetery, where several Singapore pioneers such as Chew Boon Lay, Gan Eng Seng, Lee Hoon Leong, Lee Choo Neo and Tay Ho Swee, to name a few, will have to be exhumed over time.

The road construction will also put considerable stress on the area's ecosystem. For example, Bukit Brown Cemetery is home to the rare White-Bellied Woodpecker and Spotted Wood Owl, which are listed as threatened species in the Singapore Red Data Book 2008.

If alleviating traffic congestion is the aim of the new road, perhaps the authorities should examine and understand why Singaporeans are increasingly turning to car ownership and usage, leading to a greater demand of road space and, consequently, congestion.

More should be done to improve our public transport system, so that members of the public will be inclined to take public transport as opposed to driving.

While measures such as Electronic Road Pricing and road enhancement remain as options by the authorities, they must be accompanied by viable alternatives to draw people away from car usage.

For this, the public transport operators, bus and rail companies alike, must continue to find ways to improve their systems, networks and service levels so that commuters can get to their destinations quickly and in comfort.

This will encourage more people to trust public transport as a reliable, appealing alternative to driving and, eventually, could lead to a reduction of our national greenhouse gas emissions.

More importantly, green spaces like Bukit Brown Cemetery and its surroundings, which are rare and of historic value, can be saved for future generations to appreciate.