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Singapore has been touted as one of the countries with some of the most sustainable urban transport policies in Asia. This is mainly indicated by the country’s apparent success in containing traffic growth, vehicle ownership and emphasizing and expanding the role of public transport systems (Barter 6).
Low motorization through sustained car ownership has ensured energy efficiency in Singapore’s public transport system compared to many Australian cities (Barter 7).
There are distinct features that differentiate Australian cities from European, Asian and European cities. These features include the transport systems that the cities have adopted. In Australia for instance, the cities including g Melbourne combine urban compactness present in European cities and the suburban characteristics that are dominant in American cities.
The cities like Melbourne have heavy rail systems that were built primarily to cater for suburban expansion rather than metropolitan expansion (Mees and Dodson 5). Following the success of the Singapore transport system, many experts have mulled over the possibility of applying the Singapore model on Australian cities especially Melbourne.
Despite its success, it’s important to acknowledge that both cities were designed with different aim and objectives and both cities’ infrastructures have taken root to an extent that they cannot be easily changed. The simple answer therefore as to whether the Singapore model can be applied in Melbourne is no. this is because of various reasons
Singapore Model unlikely to work in Melbourne
First of all both cities are planned differently. It’s important to note that one a city has chosen a planning model it’s difficult to change it. As a result, the cities work differently. Singapore’s development gained momentum in recent years while that of Melbourne is a bit old. Furthermore, Singapore is the capital and its infrastructure is planned to serve a wider and bigger population t5hat that of Melbourne.
The two cities spot two different rails systems that will be difficult to change in the case of Melbourne. In Singapore, the city has a mass rapid transport system (MRT) while that is chiefly meant to contain the population increase due to metropolis expansion (Bernick & Cervero 399). Melbourne on the other hand spots heavy rails built primarily to cater for the suburban expansion (Barter 5).
Even if the Singapore model was applicable in Melbourne, it’s likely to face severe financial difficulties strain (Rodrigue 20). Singapore is a city-state and as such has access to sizable amount of resources that Melbourne cannot match. Additionally, the cost of labour in Australia is higher compared to Singapore. Hence, any such venture is likely to cost highly due to the costs involved.
It’s also important to note that both cities economic activities differ significantly. Melbourne has only one central business district compared to Singapore’s multiple. Singapore city has several regional centres that serve as business districts because of the city’s expansiveness. Implementing such a plan in Melbourne is likely to misfit and any resizing will not work effectively.
Unlike Melbourne, political interventionism is common in political and economic management (Han (a) 8) in Singapore. In Melbourne, the authorities tend to follow liberal policies that are defined by predetermined laws with limited political influence.
Additionally, the fact that Singapore is a city state enhances the political intervention. Unlike Melbourne therefore, Singapore is likely to benefit from political will to development through avoidance of the bureaucratic procedure that Melbourne may be experiencing.
There is also the role that the government of Singapore has played in the growth and management of the city. In Melbourne, the state government makes most of the decisions with limited federal government participation. Due to the federal limitation, implementing a plan in Melbourne in the magnitude of Singapore will be straining to the state government.
According to Mees and Dodson, there is also lack of network planning principles in the system context in Melbourne, and also lack of reform plans in the city (13). Mees generally points out that administrators in the city of Melbourne have failed to take advantage of the city’s expansive network to plan and management it better for better transport delivery(104).
Through Melbourne cannot implement the system present in Singapore, they can learn a lot from Singapore’s approach and probably implement piecemeal reforms on the transport system to rid the city of its problems. The following section gives suggestions on the areas that Melbourne can lean from Singapore
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What Melbourne can learn from the Singapore experience
The important role that motorized private car and public transport can play in a unsustainable transport system cannot be overstated. In Singapore, the authorities have managed to control private car ownership while developing a parallel public transport system that is efficient and reliable.
Hans says that motorization and effective management of transport system of the countries have helped the island nation contain transport woes experienced in many part of the world including Melbourne. (316).
Cervero says that it’s important that city planners liken in Melbourne to plan their cities for people rather than for cars (330). According to Mees, the rail system in Melbourne is so slow that it makes people prefer cars to trains. Maybe it should be a starting point for Melbourne city planners to implement an “MTR” in the city.
Melbourne should implement a range of policies that favor development of public transportation. The planning of an efficient and fast network that is specific on service characteristics for all operators and subsidies is what Melbourne needs (Mees 104). There is also need to establish efficient metropolitan institutions that are proactive in city planning in Melbourne (Bernick et al 335).
Government intervention is necessary if cities like Melbourne will implement changes that suit its transport system. According to Cervero strong and creative political planning system like Singapore’s will help a great deal in alleviating the transit problems of the city (338).
Mees concurs with the above assertion by alluding that planning is the critical in the realization of efficient transport systems (108). In Melbourne for instance, it will be prudent to have a single central authority that responsible for the overhaul and maintainace of the transit system
In the event of planning, there is need to incorporate the principles of speed, efficiency and consistency to the systems. Mees insists that simple and direct structures like those of Singapore will ensure the above factors are achieved. The system will be facilitating convenient transfers that provide clear and consistent information and marking in the transport system.
Additionally, there integrated planning will be key in alleviating the transport system in Melbourne. In Singapore, planning and land use planning were crucial to the integration of transport facilities and building development. Furthermore, there is need to integrate all modes of transport in the city so that there is efficient and seamless intermodal transfer and integration of various, management policies and mechanisms.
Barter, Paul. Singapore’s Urban Transport: Sustainability by Design or Necessity?’ in Wong, Tai-Chee; Yuen, Belinda; Goldblum, Charles (Eds.) ‘Spatial Planning for a Sustainable Singapore’ Springer, Dordrecht, (2008) pp. 95-114.
Bernick, Michael et al. Transit villages in the 21st century, Singapore: The Master Planned Metropolis
Cervero, Robert. The transit metropolis. Washington D C: Island Press, 1998.Print.
Mees, Paul & Dodson, Jagon. Public Transport Network Planning in Australia: Assessing current practice in Australia’s five largest cities. Brisbane: Urban Research Program, Griffith University, 2011.
Han, Sun Sheng(a) Land Transport Policy and Development in Singapore. Melbourne: Urban Planning Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning The University of Melbourne
Han, Sun Sheng (b). The Singapore Experience. 2010. Print.
Mees, Paul. Transport for Suburbia: Toronto and Melbourne revisited. London: Earthscan, 2010. Print.