Monday, February 27, 2017

What work does the Transport Minister do?

Sometimes I wonder what work does the transport minister do? How does he spends his time each working day?

There are many expensive development projects on our MRT system and road construction that is happening all over the island. Do they take a lot of his time?

As the transport minister, he has to decide on how the billion dollars budget have to be spent. I expect him to evaluate each project to decide if they are worth spending and if they are too costly. By comparing with similar projects in other developed countries, he would be able to make that decision, with his in-house experts in the ministry and the land transport authority.

I do not expect him to be an engineering expert or a land transport expert. There are people who are capable of looking at the technical issues. But I expect him to make the evaluation and high level decision. In Singapore, these major decisions have to be approved by the cabinet anyway.

There is an important area that the transport minister can pay attention to. A lot of improvements can be made to the transport system just by paying attention to how they impact on the ordinary people. Simple changes to the system can make a big difference.

For example, are some bus services under-utilised and other services packed with passengers? A simple change to the allocation of buses to the various services can do a great deal of good.

The transport minister does not even have to look at the specific details. He only needs to pay attention and ask the relevant agency, i.e. the Land Transport Authority, for the answer. By asking the right questions, a lot of improvement can be made.

He can also improve the bus service significantly by providing voice or display announcements of the bus stops. This simple to implement and does not cost much money.

I hope that our transport minister will pay attention to the common sense issues as well. They are the low lying fruit that can be plugged easily.  They should get as much attention as the mega projects that are beyond his personal scope anyway.

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