Thursday 31 May 2012

LTA gets feedback every 24 seconds

It received 1.36m responses last year on road, vehicle and transport issues
By Karamjit Kaur, The Straits Times, 30 May 2012

EVERY 24 seconds, someone has something to say about buses, trains, cars or taxis.

Last year, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) received more than 1.36 million responses as part of feedback over the phone or in writing. This is about double the number in 2007, a spokesman told The Straits Times.

The surge is a positive trend, said Mr Cedric Foo, MP for Pioneer SMC and chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport. 'As our society matures, the 'bo chap' attitude is gradually giving way to 'I can make a difference with my feedback'. This should definitely be encouraged,' he added.

Political observer and former Nominated MP Zulkifli Baharudin said all feedback received, including complaints, should be viewed in a positive light.

'The thinking is that this transport issue is mine. It's public, therefore I own it. It affects my comfort and convenience so therefore, I want to have a say in it,' he said.

More than four in 10 responses last year were road-related - from Electronic Road Pricing matters to buses that do not come on time. Another 43 per cent had to do with vehicles; for example, vehicle modification and the Certificate of Entitlement scheme for cars.

Trains and all other land transport issues accounted for about 10 per cent of total feedback received.

LTA quality service manager Tammie Loke attributed the spike in feedback to several factors, including more road and rail projects being carried out.

Reports on illegal parking have also increased since LTA took over enforcement from the Traffic Police more than a year ago.

She said: 'But most likely, this is due to people wanting to have more say in what is going on and being ready to articulate their ideas and suggestions.'

Mr Zulkifli said another possible reason for the surge in feedback is growing confidence that views are heard and acted upon.

Marketing executive Lynn Wong, 25, agrees. 'Following the recent MRT breakdowns, there were many suggestions for better signs and train announcements to minimise confusion. Some of these have already been adopted.'

In the wake of the recent accidents at Rochor Road, there have also been calls for taxis to be equipped with airbags.

LTA, which operates a 24-hour call centre, relies not just on its customer service officers to handle public queries, Ms Loke said. Depending on the nature of the feedback, officers who specialise in different areas - road design or private transport policies, for example - are also roped in, she added.

The aim is to answer every call within 20 seconds, and to reply to general e-mail enquiries within three working days, and for more complicated matters, within 14 days. LTA promises to achieve these standards at least 95 per cent of the time.

Mr Foo said that while feedback is a good thing, it should also be constructive.

For example, a resident recently wrote to him about a motorist who was driving with a child on his lap and without wearing a seat belt.The resident then took an additional step to urge the LTA to bring back its road safety campaign.

Mr Foo said: 'Such feedback shows that social capital is alive and striving in Singapore. They aim to protect others in our society and not just to lobby for one's self-interest.'

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