Speech - Address by Mr Ngien Hoon Ping, Chief Executive, Land Transport Authority at the Land Transport Engineering Conference 2019 on 8 October 2019

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  • Publish date:08 Oct 2019

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen.


1. A very good morning. It gives me great pleasure to join all of you here at the Land Transport Engineering Conference. It is heartening to see industry partners from the land transport sector coming together to discuss the future of land transport.

LTMP 2040: Building a vibrant Land Transport industry

2. Every day, our land transport system connects millions of Singaporeans to home, jobs and schools. It is an important economic enabler and social leveller. An efficient and reliable land transport network is therefore central for our economy. Earlier this year, the Land Transport Authority had announced the Land Transport Masterplan (LTMP) 2040, 2 which articulates a vision of a more convenient, wellconnected, inclusive and faster land transport system.

3. Singapore will be a “45-Minute City with 20-Minute Towns” in 2040. All journeys to the nearest neighbourhood centre on public, active and shared modes of transport will take less than 20 minutes. 9 in 10 peak-period journeys using public, active and shared transport modes will be completed in less than 45 minutes.

4. The rail network will be expanded to enhance the public transport infrastructure and to give commuters better connectivity. Eight in 10 households will have a train station within a 10-minute walk from their house by 2030.

5. The Government is committed to reducing the carbon footprint of our land transport system. We aim to have a 100% cleaner energy public bus fleet by 2040, like electric or hybrid vehicles. Running trials for cleaner energy buses are 3 already ongoing, and cleaner energy buses will gradually replace our fleet if the trials are successful and cost-effective.

Cultivating Innovation and Technology as an Enabler

6. These are just some of the key plans set out in the LTMP 2040. The evolution of digital technologies such as 5G, Artificial Intelligence, robotics & automation, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the emergence of new forms of energy have thrown up a range of new mobility options and opportunities for the industry. Many of the masterplan strategies will rely on emerging technology to deliver transport services in new ways.

7. Autonomous Vehicles or AVs, for example, is an area that will potentially reinvent land transport provision, such as dynamically routed services. We are happy to see quite a few organisations developing their AV systems in Singapore. ST Engineering Land Systems is conducting public trial of autonomous shuttle and partnering with SBS Transit to 4 deploy a few of its best bus captains as safety operators. NTU is also working on a separate 12m autonomous bus trial with Volvo. The bus, which can fit 80 people, has gone through multiple tests at the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous Vehicles – NTU (Cetran), and is now being tested in actual traffic conditions. While the widespread deployment of AVs is still sometime away, such trials give us an early sense of the operations and requirements for the new jobs that will be created.

8. On the rail front, the industry will adopt widening digitalisation of processes behind many of the key rail operations systems to enhance rail reliability. Amongst many areas is the Internet of Things (IoT) enabling on-board sensors, such as automated vehicle and track inspection (AVI and ATI) systems, which help deliver real time analysis and monitoring, identifying problems before they cause delays, and facilitate automated and preventive maintenance. LTA, 5 SBS Transit and SMRT are also working with Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) to develop a simulation model for the train operations of Downtown Line (DTL). The ultimate aim is to evaluate the impact in a software model before deploying new operational plans in response to changes in demand.

Raise workforce capabilities

9. The benefits of identifying, trialling and adopting innovative emerging technologies can be tremendous. While doing so, many of these emerging trends and game-changing technologies will also require the land transport workforce to develop new skills, in areas such as data analytics, digitalisation, predictive maintenance, cyber security, automation, etc. After all, transformation is not just about technology and processes. It is also very much about people.

10. Disruptive technologies are real challenges that the workforce face, and are trying to understand, and tackle day 6 to day. We should help them prepare for the inevitable transformation so they have the new skills and knowledge to adapt to these changes effectively and take on evolving job roles. At the same time, we should continue investing heavily in capability development and build a talent pipeline with the right future skills to join the land transport industry. It is against this backdrop that we launched the Land Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM) in February 2018, with a vision for an innovative land transport industry enabled by technology and a highly competent workforce. This was followed by the launch of the Skills Framework for Public Transport in May 2018 to build a more future-proof workforce through jobs redesign and skills development.

Skills Framework for Public Transport

11. The Skills Framework for Public Transport was the fruit of almost two years of development efforts between tripartite partners – the industry, unions and government, to ensure 7 that the land transport sector is ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow head-on.

12. It has helped to give the workforce, and potential entrants a clearer sense of job roles that exist in the sector, the competencies required as well as programmes available for upskilling. In addition, it addresses emerging skills required as the sector evolves. The Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) can rely on the Framework to enhance the responsiveness and quality of their training programmes, ensure curriculum is aligned to industry’s needs, and advise students on potential public transport careers. The Framework also serves as a guidance for training providers to better align the scope of training to job demands and develop courses that equip the transport workforce with the necessary skills and knowledge to enhance capability development. 

13. We will continue to update the Skills Framework, so that it remains relevant. We intend to refresh it every two to three years, and we would also need new programmes to support the updated skills framework.

Nurturing skilled workers to support land transport industry development

14. Today, our rail and bus sectors employ more than 22,000 people to support the 6 million journeys made on public transport each day. With the emergence of new forms of mobility and expansion of the public bus and rail network, we expect to create up to 10,000 new jobs for Singaporeans from now to 2040. It is thus critical that the industry continuously invest in capability development to build the future pipeline.

15. I am heartened that LTA and the Institutes of Higher Learning are already working together to develop a series of manpower development initiatives to attract, develop and 9 retain talent in the industry. LTA offers Public Transport and Skills Future Study Awards to develop a next generation of public transport professionals. Subsidy and seed grants are also offered to support development of industry relevant programmes and enhancement of specialised training facilities at the IHLs. To date, LTA and the IHLs have cofunded four teaching labs at the Singapore Institute of Technology, Republic Polytechnic and Singapore Polytechnic to provide students with an immersive and hands-on learning experience that supplements their classroom curriculum.

16. The IHLs also work closely with LTA and the transport operators on continual education training to develop the current workforce. They are part of the Singapore Rail Academy Technical Committee, which was launched in July 2019. The committee provides advice on the technical needs and oversees learning programmes required by the 10 rail sector, in alignment with the Skills Framework for Public Transport.

17. On the public bus front, the IHLs sit on the Expert Panel with Singapore Bus Academy and representatives from public bus operators, to define industry standards and develop assessment and preparatory course materials for bus engineering programmes, for example, the Certification for Technical Specialist (CTS), to ensure the relevance of assessment and to prepare candidates for the certification. The Singapore Bus Academy launched the Certification for Technical Specialist (CTS) in August 2018 to benchmark the competencies of our bus professionals.

Working with IHLs to grow talent pipeline

18. The quality of the workforce is important to deliver the LTMP 2040 vision and future mobility needs. In building a talented pipeline with the right future skills to join the land transport industry, the IHLs have been developing and delivering many 11 transport programmes to enlarge the manpower pipeline supply. The Institute of Technical Education’s Technical Engineer Diploma (TED) in Automotive Engineering is an example that serves this objective. We will look towards the IHLs to curate more industry-relevant competency-based Pre-employment Training (PET) and Continual Education and Training (CET) programmes, and build specific capabilities for the respective land transport sectors.

Forging Close Relationships

19. Technology would open up many new possibilities in moving people and goods around efficiently. We want to move decisively in adopting emerging technologies to build a connected and smart metropolis.

20. To ensure a smooth transition, our local transport ecosystem must co-create and work together as one cohesive whole. We must deepen the existing tripartite partnership between the Government, unions and companies to drive innovation, 12 raise productivity, and to prepare our workforce in the land transport sector for the future.

21. Transforming the land transport industry is an important work. If we set our minds towards embracing innovative technologies and forging close partnerships to raise capabilities of our workforce, I am confident that the land transport system will continue to serve Singaporeans well.

Concluding Remarks

22. In closing, I would like to congratulate the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) on the success of the Technical Engineer Diploma (TED) in Automotive Engineering as we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the programme.

23. I also thank ITE for putting together this industry event. I look forward to the exchanges and discussions in today’s programme. Thank you.