By Hetty Musfirah | Posted: 31 January 2013 1246 hrs


Two new commercial belts will be developed to locate more jobs nearer to homes.

It is also part of efforts to ease congestion to the city centre and facilitate greater use of public transport.

The target is for public transport to make up 75 per cent of all journeys, compared to the current 60 per cent.

Roads take up 12 per cent of Singapore’s land space.

And given a limited land supply, there are constraints to build more roads and other facilities for private transport.

To get more people to choose public transport, extensive plans have already been announced to ramp up capacity on buses and trains.

But as Singapore’s population continues to grow, changing travel patterns will also be key.

Currently, major employment centres are located in the West and in the city. And there’s high travel demand to these areas during morning peak hours, as housing towns are in the North and East. So the new commercial belts are expected to help spread the load better.

There will be an innovation corridor in the North in 10 to 15 years’ time.

It will include the Woodlands Regional Centre, Sembawang, the future Seletar Regional Centre and Punggol, and act as a major employment node for people living in the North and North-east.

There will also be more land for new business activities when existing shipyard facilities in Sembawang are phased out.

And in the South, there will be a new waterfront city for more commercial and housing developments.

It will extend from Marina Bay along the waterfront from Keppel, through Telok Blangah to Pasir Panjang Terminal.

Experts say for decentralisation to work, the type of jobs within the commercial belts must be attractive enough.

Dr Wong Tai Chee, Urban Geography & Planning at the National Institute of Education, said: “The scope, the scale and quality of services to be provided, to be developed in the regional decentralised centres, must be substantial – big enough to attract enough businesses. Otherwise, the economies of scale won’t be big enough to attract business, that will be a failure.

“That will be a serious matter to look into. If you can cut down the commuting time and also the commuting distance, and make jobs more available near homes for at least a certain proportion of the population, this will be good. Economically, it will also help to enhance the land values of the areas in the North and South corridors.”

There should also be better transport links.

Associate Professor Gopinath Menon, School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, said: “Good integration, so if people want to change from train to bus, bus to train, train to taxi, it should be very convenient, because people do not like transfers, it takes time so that’s the most important thing, make it very convenient and also attractive.”

To facilitate this, there are plans to introduce community buses which operate during specific period of the day.

By 2030, travelling to the new commercial belts will be enhanced with the new Cross Island Line and the Thomson Line.

Drivers can also make use of the new North-South Expressway.

To better optimise use of roads, the reversible flow scheme may also be introduced on certain expressways so that there will be more lanes to cater to the heavier traffic flow during peak periods.

– CNA/ck/de