SINGAPORE: Getting to work during the morning rush hour can be a squeeze. But the Land Transport Authority (LTA) suggests this can be avoided if commuters choose to "travel smart".
That is also the name of its new pilot programme launched on Tuesday.
Under the initiative, organisations will get more support in making it easier for employees to travel and commute during off—peak periods.
The programme aims to get organisations to adopt measures such as flexible working hours, teleconferencing, as well as provide facilities like shower rooms and lockers in offices for staff who choose alternative modes of transport like cycling and walking.
LTA hopes this will encourage workers to come in either before or after the morning peak hour, which is typically from 7.45am to 8.45am.
Organisations will receive expert advice and help in drawing up an action plan.
LTA hopes to get 13 organisations on board in the pilot programme. So far, seven companies have signed up.
Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo said the initiative would act as a complementary strategy to smoothen travel demand during peak hours.
Mrs Teo, who is also the co—chair of the inter—ministerial workgroup on travel demand management, said: "Travel Smart does not replace the basic strategy of enhancing basic capacity.
"When we talk about smoothening the travel demand, we’re looking at shifting about 10 to 15 per cent of the peak hour travel demand into the shoulder peaks —— and in doing so, enable the commuters to enjoy more comfortable rides, more pleasant travel experiences."
"We already have some schemes that promote smoother distribution of travel and they are encouraging in terms of their effects. But what commuters are also telling us, is that their travel choices very much depend on employer attitudes and workplace practices."
Accounting firm Ernst and Young is looking into introducing staggered working hours and working from home.
Law firm Rajah and Tann also hopes to enhance its free breakfast incentive for those who come to work early.
The firm says it is also looking into implementing staggered working hours.
But there might be some challenges.
Rebecca Chew, partner at Rajah and Tann, said: "Business challenge, meaning challenge in terms of our own internal office needs as well as the needs of our clients. Ultimately, we’re a professional services firm. We really need to cater to the needs of our clients. Whatever schemes that we implement, ultimately we must still cater to the needs of our clients."
Grahame Wright, partner at Ernst and Young, said: "There needs to be a time period when everyone is adjusting on how to be connected, how to be a bit more flexible about availability for meetings, so we can address clients’ needs and meet transportation issues as well."
Reactions from office workers to "Travel Smart" were mixed.
Mr Cheong, who works in the banking industry, said: "It is possible, but it depends on the company’s support."
Mr Yunus said: "It’s the work culture here to come in early and to go back quite late. So it doesn’t matter what the initiative is. I think everyone will still come to work early, even if you have some incentives for them."
Ms Yvonne Soh said: "15 minutes earlier, or 15 minutes later shouldn’t be a problem for most employees...Anyone is who is employed will just follow the company’s rule."
Organisations participating in the pilot are expected to implement their plans in 2013.
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