Monday, June 10, 2013

Land Transport Gallery

Noah has a fascination with trains... be it Thomas & Friends or Singapore's very own MRT. When I found out that the Land Transport Gallery is open for visitors, I thought it'd be a good idea to bring the boys for a visit. We arrived just in time for the guided tour, and the guide took us thru the six thematic areas.

We started off by taking a glimpse of the land transport systems of the world's major cities.

We 'boarded' a train to the past, and learnt about the land transport system during Singapore's early years. We saw the rickety buses, trishaws and even the rattan man!

Trishaws were a cheap way of moving around, but being human powered, it was rather slow. 

A rickshaw
The rickety buses were also called mosquito buses because of how they flitted in and out of traffic like mosquitoes. These buses offered bus routes that the main buses operators do not and drivers tend to cover their routes as fast as they could so as to earn more money. One can imagine how nerve wrecking a ride on one of these buses can be!

The Rickety Bus
Before we had traffic lights, the rattan man directs traffic using his red/white wings. In the beginning, the wings were made of wood/metal. Subsequently, they decided to use rattan for its durability.

Before traffic lights, we had the rattan man
There were also pirate taxis plying the streets in those days. These taxis are illegal and are un-metered. Passengers have to bargain their fares at the start of their journey and share the cab with random strangers picked up along the way!

Our very own pirate taxi driver

Formative Years
We saw some challenges that Singapore faced as we grew as a country. Meeting her people's aspirations to own their own cars vs building an efficient public transport system. Managing road usage and developing a land transport system that is sustainable. Buses were introduced in the 1930s with the aim of getting people from place to place quicker. The early buses were not all that reliable, breaking down frequently, were usually over crowded, and bus routes not all that well thought out.

Bus tickets in those days

As more people owned cars, various licensing schemes for vehicle usages were rolled out.

Various licenses to limit road usage
In Singapore, the different coloured car plates show the different vehicle schemes and the intended use for the vehicles. The first three in the photo above are for private vehicles. The white plate is used at the front of the vehicle, yellow plate at the rear and the black plate can be used at the front or rear. The red plates are for off peak cars. Orange plate vehicles carry hazardous materials, and PU plates are for cars on Pulau Ubin. Red/yellow car plates are for vintage vehicles and they are only allowed to be on the roads for a few days a year. RD vehicles are vehicles still undergoing test and research and RU vehicles are restricted use vehicles, typically found on Sentosa Island and Changi Airport.

Car plate numbers in different colours, shows the vehicle scheme and its intended usage
Land Transport Today
Through sliding LCD screens and touch screens, we 'journeyed' to various parts of Singapore on the various modes of public transportation available.

Challenge Theatre
We got to take on the role of a transport planner and decide on how to deal with the challenges that transport planners faced. We made decisions such as whether to have dedicated bus lanes, or to have more buses on the roads to reduce waiting times. Whether to increase train routes or increase bus routes. We saw the impact of our decisions and saw that there are deeper implications, some of which I haven't thought of. This is Nathan's favourite section of the gallery. He liked watching the animation on the screen and enjoyed pressing the red and green buttons on his chair to indicate his choices. The challenge to build a sustainable transport system to take Singapore into the 2020s and beyond remains.

Vision & Aspirations
In the last section of the gallery, we took a peek of what our future transportation system might look like.

The displays are interactive, storyboards colourful and informative, and the tour nicely put together and suitable for all ages. Do make plans to visit the LTA Gallery sometime!

1 Hampshire Road, Block 1, Level 1, S(219428)

Tour Hours
Tue to Sun: 9.30am, 11am, 1.30pm, 3pm.
Closed on Mondays & Public Holidays.

Maximum 40 pax per tour. You can call 63962550 or email to book your tour.

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