Biggest barrier to early travel “seems to be employer-related”
SINGAPORE:?The biggest impediment to more commuters adjusting their travel patterns appears to be employer-related, said Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo.
Mrs Teo was speaking at the Travel Smart Day Seminar, one month after the implementation of the free morning pre-peak travel scheme on trains.
She said that the results of the scheme have been encouraging so far.
In the busiest hour of 8am to 9am, the number of commuters exiting at city stations has dropped by six to seven per cent. The number of commuters exiting in the pre-peak hour between 7am and 8am has increased by 18 to 19 per cent.
Mrs Teo noted that in a recent survey of 100 organisations carried out by the Land Transport Authority, half of the companies did not offer any form of flexi-work arrangement.
Many of the 1,500 employees who were surveyed were also not aware of these arrangements.
Less than 10 per cent of the employees surveyed have access to flexible work arrangements, know about the arrangements or feel they are eligible to them. The survey also found that about 80 per cent of employees were willing to take up flexible work arrangements if they are made available to them.
According to the survey, large organisations with more than 500 employees were also more likely to implement such measures. This means more employees can potentially take advantage of incentives such as the free train rides which are applicable to those who exit selected city stations before 7.45am.
Mrs Teo said: “It is quite likely that the incentive of free travel and employers’ proactive initiatives have motivated commuters to examine if they can adjust their travel times. Not everyone can, but the number who can is potentially much bigger than those who have already shifted.
“There is clearly much scope for employers to do more to offer and promote flexi-work arrangements in ways which benefit both employers and employees. For the company, it stands to gain from happier, more efficient and more productive employees, more engaged and sometimes lower costs too.”
One initiative which can help is the Travel Smart programme. Launched last October, Travel Smart is designed to provide insights on measures that can be implemented to influence change in travel behaviour. Twelve companies have signed up for the programme.
Companies are provided with detailed information on how their employees commute and they have to come up with an action plan to implement initiatives.
Some initiatives under the action plan include allowing staff to work part of the day at home before coming to the office after the peak period.
One company which has signed up for the programme is BP Singapore.
The company’s running club aims to encourage employees to come in by 7.30am. Shower facilities are also in place — something that is useful for those who cycle to work.
Andrew Moore, finance manager of Asia and Pacific lubricants at BP Singapore, said: “I leave home at seven in the morning and cycle to work, it takes about 35 minutes.
“We use the facilities. We have good changing rooms and showers here so it is not a problem changing back to work apparel to meet customers and clients. It is good for the environment and it beats the crowds as well.”
Richard Yao, regional head of information technology at BP Singapore, said: “One of the things that we are looking at is actually ‘The Breakfast Club’. This is to encourage employees to start early in the morning but we intend to do that probably after the Ramadan Period.”