Apparently, this is the second person who conveniently disappeared after deciding that he owed too much debt to the extend that there is no way for him to repay everything. While the first person who tried this conveniently faked tragedy in a canoe accident, the second one just disappeared aboard a ferry with a suicide note in his car. He owed about S$562,000. In all popular Sheylara’s claim of lazy blogger-style blogging, will this happen here?

LONDON – A MAN thought to have died 15 years ago has been discovered alive and well – and claiming British state benefits under a fake name – according to a report.

In details that resemble the circumstances surrounding back-from-the-dead canoeist John Darwin and his wife’s deception – for which they were arrested and charged – The Sun tabloid on Monday claimed Mr Walter Dominy, feared drowned, was living in France and claiming benefits under a former neighbour’s identity.

Darwin and his wife Anne were remanded in custody earlier this month after their story generated worldwide interest since he walked into a London police station on Dec 1 last year, saying he had amnesia and thought he was a missing person.

It later emerged that, having been officially declared dead in 2003, he had been living with his wife in Panama.

Citing Mr Dominy’s daughter, The Sun said the now 71-year-old disappeared aboard a ferry in October 1993 and left a suicide note in his car, after he and his wife owed around 200,000 pounds (S$562,000) to creditors and tax authorities.

Three months later, however, he returned and began a new life with his wife in Northern Ireland where he managed to find work under the last name Kealy, and the pair retired to France about two years ago, the tabloid said.

‘I can’t live with the lies and deceit any more … Us kids were left burning with anger that someone we loved so dearly had so cruelly conned us,’ Mr Dominy’s 41-year-old daughter Lorna told the tabloid. — AFP

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 28th January 2008

More heartlanders are beginning to speak out about ERP gantries which are built in their estates – some claiming that the ERP gantries actually drive traffic onto the expressways – which are also gated by another ERP gantry. Some are even “squashed” between 2 gantries who do not make sense to them – but probably do to the authorities.

I can only wonder about the statement that someone made – soon, we’ll have gantries when we drive out of the carparks. I wonder if this is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Heartland ERP redirects traffic onto expressways

RECENTLY, more ERP gantries were built, some in the heartland.
The reason these gantries were built is that the roads they are built on lead to the city. These gantries will be turned on as necessary to ensure these roads maintain optimal traffic flow.

ERP is used on expressways to redirect traffic away from the expressways during peak hours. Drivers who do not wish to pay ERP to use the expressways during peak hours must find an alternative route to the city, such as through the heartland, or take public transport.

Once the new gantries are switched on, drivers will have to pay to get to the city whether they use the expressways or go through the heartland.

Will such a move actually redirect traffic back to the expressways?

If drivers have to pay ERP anyway, why should they pay to use a slower route through the heartland if paying a bit more on the expressway gets them there faster?

Vincent Ng Teck Soon

——————————————————————————–

I AM writing to find out why two ERP gantries have been erected at Upper Boon Keng and Geylang Bahru 500m apart. What traffic are these gantries meant to control?

Geylang West is a small residential estate, and we feel ‘locked in’ by these two gantries. Why should we put at a disadvantage?

Does the Land Transport Authority know the Housing and Development Board has decided to close Upper Boon Keng Road Food Centre temporarily for at least one year after Chinese New Year? Thus, the nearest market residents can patronise will be Geylang Bahru Hawker Centre.

Chan Nghee Eng

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 28th january 2008

Apparently all performances by the choir had been cancelled because they had been notified on Friday that foreign members in their choir cannot perform. They thus had to turn all performances into invite-only and cancel all public performances.

Citing Ms Amy Tsang, a deputy director at MDA, a licence has been issued to The Necessary Stage for the Complaints Choir to perform at the various venues provided the performers are Singapore citizens, as the content touches on domestic affairs and it is preferred that only Singapore citizens participate in the public performance.

Of course, the group were disappointed at this notice and decision but because the performance touched on domestic issues, they are unable to appeal. In addition, the condition of the performance was already put forward to them when they applied for a permit to perform.

I thought the pingsters were supposed to have an outing to this performance. I wonder what happened when they arrived there.

A CHOIR singing complaints about Singapore had to change its public performances to invitation-only private shows after the authorities said foreign members could not perform.

Ms Melissa Lim, an organiser of this year’s M1 Fringe Festival of which the Complaints Choir Project was part, said the choir was told of the restriction by the Media Development Authority (MDA) only on Friday, one day before the performances were to start.

‘It would be a shame if we canned the whole thing, so we decided to have private performances at the Arts House,’ she said.

Ms Amy Tsang, a deputy director of the MDA, said: ‘A licence has been issued to The Necessary Stage for the Complaints Choir to perform at the various venues provided the performers are Singapore citizens, as the content touches on domestic affairs and it is preferred that only Singapore citizens participate in the public performance.’

‘However, The Necessary Stage has chosen to hold the performance as a private event.’

The concept of a complaints choir was started by Finnish duo Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, who travelled round the world to teach people to sing about their grouses to fellow citizens.

They are among some six of 50 members – including the choir’s Malaysian conductor Chong Wai Lun – who are foreigners.

In a statement, the organisers said the restriction came ‘as a total shock’ to them.

‘The choir decided they did not want to perform in these circumstances and all the public performances have been cancelled,’ they said.

Complaints to be sung here included: ‘We don’t recycle any plastic bags, but we purify our pee’ and ‘Will I ever live till 85, to collect my CPF?’

The founders, in a post on the choir’s website, said they were ‘disappointed that our prejudices against Singapore have been affirmed’.

‘We see the symptoms of a neurotic society. We find it irritating that foreigners – people that built this city, nurse Singaporean kids and bring in their knowledge – are not allowed to complain.’

They said they would post a video of the performance on their website.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 27th January 2008

Indonesian’s ex-president, Suharto, died this afternoon at 2:10pm Singapore time. I can’t comment much because I do not know enough about him except that our Minister Mentor had paid him a visit earlier this year.

JAKARTA – FORMER president Suharto, who helmed Indonesia for 32 years, died on Sunday of multiple organ failure. He was 86.
Suharto had been ailing since he was admitted to a hospital in the capital, Jakarta, on Jan 4 with failing kidneys, heart and lungs.

Dozens of the country’s best doctors prolonged his life for three weeks with dialysis and a ventilator, but he lost consciousness and stopped breathing on his own overnight before slipping into a coma on Sunday.

A statement issued by Chief Presidential Dr Marjo Subiandono said he was declared dead at 1.10pm (2.10pm Singapore time).

Physicians did not try to revive him because his heart was too weak, said one of his doctors, Joko Raharjo, adding that ‘all his children were at his bedside’.

‘My father passed away peacefully,’ sobbed Suharto’s eldest daughter, Tutut. ‘May God bless him and forgive all of his mistakes and place him beside Allah’, or God.

The office of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced a week of national mourning for ‘the country’s best son’, calling for flags to be flown at half-staff.

Seven air force planes were to accompany the body to the family mausoleum for a state funeral and burial.

Suharto – a US Cold War ally – was toppled by massive street protests at the peak of the Asian financial crisis in 1998.

His fall opened the way for democracy in this predominantly Muslim nation of 235 million people and he withdrew from public life, rarely venturing from his comfortable villa on a tree-lined lane in Jakarta.

Suharto ruled with a totalitarian dominance that saw soldiers stationed in every village, instilling a deep fear of authority across this Southeast Asian nation of some 6,000 inhabited islands stretching across more than 4,825 kilometres.

Since being forced from power, he had been in and out of hospitals after strokes caused brain damage and impaired his speech. Blood transfusions and a pacemaker prolonged his life, but he suffered from lung, kidney, liver and heart problems.

Suharto was vilified as one of the world’s most brutal rulers and was accused of overseeing a graft-ridden rule. But poor health – and continuing corruption, critics charge – kept him from court after he was chased from office.

The bulk of political killings blamed on Suharto occurred in the 1960s, soon after he seized power.

In later years, about 300,000 people were slain, disappeared or jailed in the independence-minded regions of East Timor, Aceh and Papua, human rights groups and the United Nations say.

Suharto’s successors as head of state – B.J. Habibie, Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Sukarnoputri and Yudhoyono – vowed to end corruption that took root under Suharto, yet it remains endemic at all levels in Indonesia.

With the court system paralysed by corruption, the country has not confronted its bloody past.

Rather than put on trial those accused of mass murder and multibillion-dollar theft, some members of the political elite consistently called for charges against Suharto to be dropped on humanitarian grounds.

Some noted Suharto also oversaw decades of economic expansion that made Indonesia the envy of the developing world. Today, nearly a quarter of Indonesians live in poverty, and many long for the Suharto era’s stability, when fuel and rice were affordable.

Critics say Suharto squandered Indonesia’s vast natural resources of oil, timber and gold, siphoning the nation’s wealth to benefit his cronies and family like a mafia don.

Jeffrey Winters, associate professor of political economy at Northwestern University, said the graft effectively robbed ‘Indonesia of some of the most golden decades, and its best opportunity to move from a poor to a middle-class country’.

‘When Indonesia does finally go back and redo history, (its people) will realize that Suharto is responsible for some of the worst crimes against humanity in the 20th century,’ he said.

Those who profited from Suharto’s rule made sure he was never portrayed in a harsh light at home, Winters said. He said the ex-leader was able to stay in his native country despite having been an ‘iron-fisted, brutal, cold-blooded dictator’.

Suharto’s life
Like many Indonesians, Suharto used only one name. He was born on June 8, 1921, to a family of rice farmers in the village of Godean, in the dominant Indonesian province of Central Java.

When Indonesia gained independence from the Dutch in 1949, Suharto quickly rose through the ranks of the military to become a staff officer.

His career nearly foundered in the late 1950s, when the army’s then-commander, General Abdul Haris Nasution, accused him of corruption in awarding army contracts.

Absolute power came in Sept 1965 when the army’s six top generals were murdered under mysterious circumstances, and their bodies dumped in an abandoned well in an apparent coup attempt.

Suharto, next in line for command, quickly asserted authority over the armed forces and promoted himself to four-star general.

Suharto then oversaw a nationwide purge of suspected communists and trade unionists, a campaign that stood as the region’s bloodiest event since World War II until the Khmer Rouge established its gruesome regime in Cambodia a decade later. Experts put the number of deaths during the purge at between 500,000 and 1 million.

Over the next year, Suharto eased out of office Indonesia’s first post-independence president, Sukarno, who died under house arrest in 1970. The legislature rubber-stamped Suharto’s presidency and he was re-elected unopposed six times.

During the Cold War, Suharto was considered a reliable friend of Washington, which did not oppose his violent occupation of Papua in 1969 and the bloody 1974 invasion of East Timor.

The latter, a former Portuguese colony, became Asia’s youngest country with a UN-sponsored plebiscite in 1999. Even Suharto’s critics agree his hard-line policies kept a lid on Indonesia’s extremists.

He locked up without trial hundreds of suspected Islamic militants, some of whom later carried out deadly suicide bombings with the Al-Qaeda-linked terror network Jemaah Islamiyah after the attacks on the US of Sept 11, 2001.

Meanwhile, the ruling clique that formed around Suharto – nicknamed the ‘Berkeley mafia’ after their US university, the University of California, Berkeley – transformed Indonesia’s economy and attracted billions of dollars in foreign investment.

By the late 1980s, Suharto was describing himself as Indonesia’s ‘father of development’, taking credit for slowly reducing the number of abjectly poor and modernising parts of the nation.

But the government also became notorious for unfettered nepotism, and Indonesia was regularly ranked as one of the world’s most corrupt nations as Suharto’s inner circle amassed fabulous wealth.

The World Bank estimates 20 to 30 per cent of Indonesia’s development budget was embezzled during his rule.

Even today, Suharto’s children and aging associates have considerable sway over the country’s business, politics and courts. Efforts to recover the money have been fruitless.

Suharto’s youngest son, Hutomo ‘Tommy’ Mandala Putra, was released from prison in 2006 after serving a third of a 15-year sentence for ordering the assassination of a Supreme Court judge.

Another son, Bambang Trihatmodjo, joined the Forbes list of wealthiest Indonesians in 2007, with US$200 million (285 million) from his stake in the conglomerate Mediacom.

Suharto’s economic policies, based on unsecured borrowing by his cronies, dramatically unraveled shortly before he was toppled in May 1998. Indonesia is still recovering from what economists called the worst economic meltdown anywhere in 50 years.

State prosecutors accused Suharto of embezzling about US$600 million via a complex web of foundations under his control, but he never saw the inside of a courtroom.

In Sept 2000, judges ruled he was too ill to stand trial, though many people believed the decision really stemmed from the lingering influence of the former dictator and his family.

In 2007, Suharto won a US$106 million defamation lawsuit against Time magazine for accusing the family of acquiring US$15 billion in stolen state funds.

The former dictator told the news magazine Gatra in a rare interview in Nov 2007 that he would donate the bulk of any legal windfall to the needy, while he dismissed corruption accusations as ’empty talk’.

Suharto’s wife of 49 years, Indonesian royal Siti Hartinah, died in 1996. The couple had three sons and three daughters. — AP

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 27th January 2008

For the past years, bus and train fare hikes have always been justified citing raising fuel costs and it always passed through. Of recent years, the public had been urging the train operators to put up barriers due to the increased number of accidental falls and suicide attempts at the stations. However, this was put away citing high costs – and that if it pushes through, this cost would eventually be passed back to the commuters.

Well, that seemed to be the case soon – now  that there are plans to put up barriers in not one, not two, but all stations that are above ground, by 2012. Put this and the constantly raising fuel costs and I can foresee a huge jump in transport fares soon. Actually, it’ll come – it’s just when.

NO MORE falling onto MRT train tracks by accident or design.

The Government has decided to install screen doors on the platforms of all above-ground stations.

The doors will first be installed in Jurong East, Pasir Ris and Yishun stations next year, with the other stations to follow by 2012.

Transport Minister Raymond Lim said yesterday that, besides endangering lives, such incidents disrupted train services and inconvenienced many commuters, especially during peak hours.

Talk of installing such doors has been rife in the last four years. The subject has also reared its head in Parliament whenever someone strays onto the tracks.

The number of such incidents has been on the up: from an average of 16 cases a year in 2004 and 2005, to 30 in 2006 and 31 last year.

But each time the subject was raised, SMRT and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) surfaced the ‘cost effectiveness’ question, given the number of such incidents. The LTA also said the cost of the doors could eventually be borne by commuters in the form of higher fares.

But yesterday, Mr Lim explained that, with such screen doors being adopted in transit systems worldwide, their cost has come down. LTA confirmed that the cost has fallen by a quarter, but declined to give specific numbers.

It has not been decided how high these doors will be or what form they will take, but they will be of a ‘sufficient’ height and yet still allow for fresh air to circulate, said the LTA.

Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC Cynthia Phua, among those who have called for such doors, applauded Mr Lim’s announcement yesterday from her seat in the audience. She told The Straits Times later: ‘If you have children and you know they will eventually take the MRT, you will be concerned about safety.’

MARIA ALMENOAR

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY APRIL CHONG

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 26th January 2008

Someone alerted me to the article from Today about how much cabbies are really earning. Apparently, the figure quoted in the article – $9,858 before expenses, was a little too similar to the title of one of my previous post. Hmm… if the previous post wasn’t replicated elsewhere (or was it?), then since when did Simply Jean become an “Internet forum”???

Well, at least ComfortDelgro was contacted and that the figure was explained and clarified. Sometimes, it takes a little… publicity to get things moving, else everyone would really start thinking that taxi drivers really earn $318 per day. =P

How much do cabbies really earn?

Friday • January 25, 2008

Ansley Ng
ansley@mediacorp.com.sg

IT was a figure that raised eyebrows and drew incredulous reactions from some taxi drivers as well as commuters — leading ComfortDelGro to yesterday clarify a mistaken impression.

On Tuesday, Transport Minister Raymond Lim had said in Parliament that a study of 5,000 taxis by the largest taxi operator here revealed that each generated $318 in daily average takings, up from $307 after last month’s fare hike.

On Internet forums, one netizen did the calculation that cabbies “earn $9,858 before expenses” each month, leaving some aghast, while others wondered if the data provided was correct.

And it was, but as ComfortDelGro has since clarified, $318 accounts for a taxi’s takings over two shifts.

With most taxis shared between two drivers, to defray costs and working hours, the average daily takings for each cabbie — before deducting rent and petrol costs — would work out to $159. Minus expenses, this would mean the average driver pockets about $85 a day.

“We have over 30,000 drivers and there will definitely be drivers who earn more than the average and those that earn less,” said ComfortDelGro spokeswoman Tammy Tan.

“It is still early days yet and we are still monitoring the situation closely to gauge demand.”

Even so, some taxi drivers that Today spoke to thought the estimate was a tad too optimistic.

“It’s tough to even make $70 a day now after we fork out rent and petrol,” said Mr Maurice Goh. “It didn’t use to be like this before the revision.”

Another driver, Mr Ong Eng Chuan, 72, insisted that his takings have dropped by as much as 20 per cent. “No matter what they say, people are still avoiding taking taxis, unless they really need to,” he said.

Another taxi operator, however, told Today it had conducted its own survey and interviews with cabbies, and the results were not too far from ComfortDelGro’s findings.

Premier Taxis’ managing director Lim Chong Boo, who has a fleet of 2,400 taxis, said: “The results are close to what the Minister revealed”.

While declining to be more precise, he noted: “We found out that some took home more after the revision, while some took home about the same as before but were making fewer trips.”

There were also those who made less money because they spent their time “sitting in coffeeshops”, said Mr Lim. “This is a time where you can separate the good drivers from the rest.”

Singapore’s second-largest cab company SMRT Taxis, with 3,000 vehicles on the road, declined to say if it had studied its drivers’ takings. But spokeswoman said the company frequently meets its cabbies in dialogue sessions and will continue to monitor the situation.

At least one taxi driver that Today spoke to, however, agreed he has benefited from the fare revision.

Mr Ho Kin Hwa, 49, who has been driving for five years, said his takings have improved by $10 to $15 a day, even as he is now making fewer trips.

The father of two drives a 15-hour full shift daily, for five days a week. On Saturdays and Sundays, he drives nine hours a day and shares the vehicle with a relief driver.

For Mr Ho, the math is simple: “It’s tiring but the more I drive, the more I earn.”

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 25th January 2008

The last taxi company – Prime Taxis, are going to raise their flag down rates soon, if a unanimous agreement is reached in a vote next week. Drivers of Prime Taxis have seen a decline in earnings after the other taxi companies rose their flag down rates in December – effectively creating a knee-jerk reaction that got many customers off taxis for quite a while.

However, from recent reportings and survey, this down trend seems to be improving as taxi drivers are beginning to see a gradual increase in their passengers as well as earnings. This reinforced the fact that Singaporeans are indeed very supportive of the taxi drivers and are beginning to resume taking taxis as they used to.

As the LTA and other parties had mentioned previously, the sudden drop in customers may be a knee-jerk reaction. At the end of the day, if a person has to take a cab, he will. After all, it’s a trade off between time and money and time isn’t something that someone can buy. In such instances, it is better for a person to just take a cab to save some time.

THE lone Singapore taxi company to decide against raising its fares last month could soon reverse that decision.

Drivers from Prime Taxis, the island’s smallest cab firm, will vote next Tuesday on whether to raise flag down fares and after-hours rates, said managing director Neo Nam Heng.

The company’s 100 cabbies saw their take-home pay drop 50 per cent after five of Singapore’s six companies raised fares in December, a move that drove many commuters away from taxis.

‘For the first two weeks, there was a fall in their income because people saw the other companies increase price and stopped taking cabs,’ said Mr Neo.

The situation, though, has improved recently.

Drivers are seeing their income inch back up to the pre-hike rate of $100 to $120 a day, said Mr Neo.

It has been a roller coaster ride for Singapore’s taxi companies, some of whom, like Prime Taxis, are starting to see business rebound.

Divers from the island’s biggest firm, Comfort DelGo, have seen their take-home pay creep upwards over the last few weeks.

The average ComfortDelGro cabbie earned $159 per shift, up from $153 before the fare increase, according to a company survey of 5,000 drivers.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 25th January 2008

Apparently there was more news than I initially thought. There will be 2 more lines and 2 more extensions by 2020, which I figured that I should still be able to witness and try in my life time. By then, I’d be quite old and it’s probably a good thing for me anyway. One of the new lines will run through Thomson while the other is the Eastern Line. As I am not an east person, I’m not sure if it’s really good. Or not.

Ed: Contrary to Sheylara, I’m not a lazy blogger, but this post is rather short because… I have to rush off soon. =P

A new 27 km underground rail line will be built from Woodlands in the north, through Ang Mo Kio and down the Thomson corridor to the city centre.

It will be one of four more rail systems to be built by 2020, with the other lines bringing high speech access to areas like Marine Parade in the east and Tuas in the West.

Together, the four will extend the rail network from the current 138km of track to 278km by 2020.

When completed, moving within the city centre will be a breeze, with a train station every 400m, or a five minute walk away, said Transport Minister Raymond Lim on Friday morning when he unveiled part-two of the changes to the land transport system.

ST: New SMRT Lines

Thomson Line (see attached map)

From the heart of Marina Bay, the Thomson Line (or TSL) will travel northwards, through the Central Business District and up through Ang Mo Kio all the way to Woodlands connecting estates such as Sin Ming, Kebun Baru, Thomson and Kim Seng which do not now have a direct MRT link.

Easten Region Line (see attached map)

The Eastern Region Line (or ERL), from Marina Bay, will serve the residential estates of Tanjong Rhu, Marine Parade, Siglap, Bedok South and Upper East Coast, and link them to Changi in the east.

The TSL and the ERL together will add 48km to the rail network. The Government has given the go-ahead for the TSL to be built by 2018, and the ERL by 2020.

Mr Lim said the TSL and ERL will shorten journey times and significantly enhance the connectivity of the rail network. Commuters staying in Sin Ming, for example, can save 20 minutes out of their current 45-minute journey to the city, whereas a trip from Marine Parade to Marina Bay on the ERL would take about 20 minutes, almost as fast as travelling by car.

New extensions to North-South and East-West Lines (see attached maps)

The North-South and East-West Lines will also be extended and should be completed around 2015.

The North-South Line, which now ends at the Marina Bay station in the south, will be extended 1-km southwards to serve upcoming developments in the southern Marina Bay area, such as the new cruise terminal in Marina South. The East-West Line will be extended by another 14km into Tuas.

Presently, a commuter who lives in Clementi and takes the MRT to work in Tuas has to alight at Boon Lay station and then take a 35-minute bus ride to get to his workplace. With the new Tuas Extension that brings the East-West line right into the heart of Tuas, more of the journey will be on the high speed MRT, reducing his journey time by 20 minutes.

Doubling of rail network by 2020 (see attached map)

Mr Lim said the new rail lines will cost some $20 billion to build, over and above the $20 billion that government has already committed for the on-going Boon Lay Extension (BLE), the Circle Line (CCL) and the Downtown Line (DTL).

‘The government has decided that all these rail projects are a necessary investment to ensure that our transport infrastructure meets the needs of a growing population and an expanding economy,’ he said.

‘Together with the rail lines now under construction, the new rail lines will double our network from today’s 138km to 278km in 2020. We expect our rail network to carry 3 times as many journeys, rising from today’s 1.4 million a day to 4.6 million in 2020.’

He added that many more people will be served by the MRT, and they will be able to use it to get to many more places.

The density of the rail network will increase by 60 per cent, from 31 to 51 km per million population by 2020, comparable to cities like New York and London, and surpassing Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Turning to the existing rail lines, Mr Lim said train ridership is increasing steadily and commuters have said that they are feeling the squeeze, especially on the North-South and East-West lines.

‘Now, we are far from the crowded conditions of Tokyo trains, which Mr Norman Chong, a Singaporean who has lived in Tokyo for 10 years, describes as being ‘so packed that bodies are crushed against one another.’ He calls it his ‘regular morning massage’,’ said the Minister. ‘Other MRT users have likened the average peak period loading on our trains to an off-peak crowd in Shanghai.’

He said LTA is closely monitoring the passenger loading on trains.

To ensure a more comfortable ride for commuters, LTA has worked with the train operators to run 93 additional train trips per week during the morning and evening periods from February 2008 on the North-South East-West and the North-East lines. For commuters, this will mean less crowded trains and a reduction in waiting time by about 10 to 15 per cent during peak hours.

Additionally, the carrying capacity of the North-South and East-West Lines will be expended, with more trains to be added.

When completed in about four years’ time, their carrying capacity will be increased by a further 15 per cent, and commuters can look forward to shorter peak waiting times of two minutes, compared to the current 2.5 to 4.5 minutes at stretches that experience heavy loading, and an even more comfortable ride, assured Mr Lim.

DTL 3 to be brought forward by 2 years

The Minister also announced that Stage 3 of the Downtown Line (DTL) will now be completed two years earlier – from 2018 to 2016 – to benefit residents of Bedok Reservoir and Tampines.

It will be ready just one year after that of DTL Stage 2 serving the Bukit Timah corridor.

Earlier opening of Circle Line in 2009

He also have another piece of good news.

The Circle Line (CCL), which was due to open from 2010 onwards, will now open its Stage 3 segment in mid-2009 to benefit residents in the north and north-east.

This CCL segment connects Bishan station on the North-South Line and Serangoon station on NEL and opens up multiple new connections for residents in the north and north-east.

With the CCL 3, Serangoon residents will take only 25 minutes to get to Yishun by transferring to the North-South line at Bishan station, compared to 45 minutes by bus or by taking the NEL all the way to Dhoby Ghaut before transferring to the North-South line.

As for residents staying in Marymount, Lorong Chuan and Bartley, they will enjoy more seamless and direct travel to the city and other parts once CCL 3 commences operation.

More Circle Line stations will be opened

Commuters can also look forward to more stations on the Circle Line. This will enhance the reach and connectivity of the Circle Line, and allow many more people to benefit from the MRT.

‘We had earlier decided to build the Thomson and West Coast stations as shell stations and fit them out only when there are sufficient developments around them. As the pace of development around these stations is picking up, LTA will now fit out these stations and open them together with the other CCL stations,’ said Mr Lim.

‘To enhance the accessibility of the Marina Bay area to the rest of the island, LTA will also build and open the Marina Bay station as part of the CCL extension beyond Bayfront station in 2012.’

‘With all these developments that I have highlighted, commuters can look forward to new extensions or stages of new lines opening almost every other year until 2020.’

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 25th Jaunary 2008

Got this piece of article in between talks… erm, coincidentally by the same minister who made the “taxi drivers now make S$318 a day” comment. I’m not trying to discredit him or do anything malicious… just that the previous article on how much taxi drivers earn put me in stitches. Seriously, it’s either the something was left out in his speech/comment, or the statisticians sabotaged him, or the reporters didn’t like him.

But for once, this seemed like good news. =)

IN what could well be Singapore’s most aggressive public transport infrastructure plans ever, the Government is spending $40 billion to double the MRT network by 2020.

By then, Singapore will have 278km of rail link, from 138km today. Its network density will rise from 31km per million residents today to 51km per million – surpassing what Hong Kong and Tokyo has today and comparable to current densities in places like New York and London.

Announcing these targets on Friday as part of a sweeping Land Transport Review, Transport Minister Raymond Lim said two new lines will be built – barely nine months after he gave the go-ahead to the $12 billion 40km Downtown Line.

One, the Thomson Line, runs to the left of and almost parallel to the North-east Line. It is 27km long and links Marina Bay in the south to Woodlands in the north. To be completed in 2018, it will have 18 stations, in places such as Ang Mo Kio, Kebun Baru, Sin Ming, Thomson and Kim Seng.

The other is the Eastern Region Line, which is a southern loop of the Downtown Line’s eastern wing. It is 21km long and links Marina Bay to Changi. This line has 12 stops in places such as Tanjong Rhu, Siglap, Bedok South and Marine Parade, and is scheduled for completion in 2020.

‘We expect our rail network to carry three times as many journeys, rising from today’s 1.4 million a day to 4.6 million in 2020,’ Mr Lim said.

Existing MRT lines will also be lengthened. The North South Line will dip towards Marina South, with one station, and should be ready by 2015. Elsewhere, the East West Line will go west to serve the Tuas Industrial Estate. Also to be ready in 2015, it is 14km long and dotted with five stations.

More immediately though, Mr Lim said residents can look forward to riding one stage of the Circle Line from middle of next year. This stage is a five-station section linking Bartley to Marymount, with interchanges at Serangoon and Bishan.

Completion of the Downtown Line has also been brought forward by two years to 2016.

These accelerated plans are just the beginning. Minister Lim revealed that the Government will be working towards a new financing framework for rail infrastructure that will see future lines being built sooner. Instead of assessing the viability of new lines in isolation, the Government will now evaluate its contribution to the entire network. As such, future MRT projects could be implemented ‘a few years earlier… so long as the entire rail network remains viable’.

Like changes he announced for buses last week, the minister said the Government will introduce more competition to the rail industry. Operating contracts will be 10 to 15 years long, instead of the current 30-year tenures. This is to keep the operators on their toes so that they keep service standards high.

In line with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s promise that no one would be left behind, accessibility to wheelchairs and prams will likewise be speeded up. By 2010, access to MRT stations, taxi and bus shelters will be barrier free within a 400m radius. Because there are 4,500 bus-stops here, practically all walkways will be accessible to the handicapped, elderly and those using baby prams.

And by 2010, 40 per cent of public buses will be wheelchair accessible, with the rest to follow by 2020.

The minister took the opportunity to announce other transport-related initiatives during a visit to the Kim Chuan MRT Depot on Friday morning. These include:

• July: A single telephone number for booking a cab.

• March: Six-month trial for foldable bicycles to be allowed onboard MRT trains during off-peak periods.

• Next year: Better bicycle parking facilities at MRT stations, starting with Tampines and Pasir Ris.

• March: Road signs warning motorists of cyclists in popular bicycle routes.

• 2014: All taxis to meet Euro IV emission standards.

• 2020: All buses to meet Euro IV emission standards.

On what commuters can look forward to in the coming years, Mr Lim said: ‘By 2020, people who live or work in the city and those who shop and find enjoyment there will be able to reach an MRT station within 400 metres on average, a mere five-minute walk.

‘Travelling across the city will be a breeze, because we will have a dense network of MRT stations like what we see in London and New York today.’

He added: ‘With a vast rail network and a bus network that works in partnership with rail, commuters will have fast and reliable connections that bring them where they want to go. A gamut of transport choices including premium buses, taxis and cycling among others, will enable different needs to be met.’

The Minister said as society evolves and people’s needs change, Singapore’s land transport offerings must keep pace as well as encompass the diversity of needs and aspirations.

‘To achieve this, we will plan our land transport system around people, not the other way round. This then will be our touchstone in the planning of land transport policies going forward,’ he promised.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 25th January 2008

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