| Azlan Othman |
THE recently-published Land Transport White Paper revealed that commuters are expected to experience longer journey times and more transport costs in 20 years.
With population growth, the average journey time is expected to increase from 27 minutes to 68 minutes in 2035. The transport costs estimated at $7 – $8 based on the current land transport situation will double to about $19 while 71 per cent of the trips will take longer than 30 minutes compared to 24 per cent today.
As of 2013, there are 216,000 licensed motor vehicles with the vast majority being private cars. Every month, there are about 1,400 newly registered private vehicles recording an annual vehicle growth rate of nine per cent. As a whole, it exhibits an extremely high level of car ownership, use and dependency compared internationally.
Thus, the responsibility for developing and managing these networks and facilities rests with a number of public and private organisations. In particular, the Ministry of Communications has the responsibility for the overall national transport policy, planning and regulation of land transport modes and overview of the maritime and aviation sectors.
The white paper also stated that there is a need to move the national policy from a narrow focus, which makes car ownership and use almost universally accessible, cheap, and convenient, to a more integrated multi-modal approach that incentivises a greater range of travel choices to manage and selectively restrain car use and seek to influence social attitudes and behaviour.
In the aspect of supporting economic development through essential infrastructure, Brunei’s road infrastructure has improved substantially in recent years. Nevertheless, there remain some connectivity gaps and capacity deficits in the network as well as a need to improve multi-modal facilities. Policies are also required for the operational monitoring, management and maintenance of infrastructure to maximise value for the investment made and focus and sustain benefits to users, communities and the wider economy.
The headline policy for this issue is for transport infrastructure to be maintained, enhanced, operated and constructed across all modes which support national economic growth, diversification and spatial development, raise investor confidence and attract Foreign Direct Investment by efficient movement of people and goods.
In promoting public transport, the white paper stated that the coverage, efficiency and quality of public transport in Brunei is currently poor, limiting its attractiveness to current users and also its ability to offer a viable alternative to the private car. Patronage is progressively declining.
There is an urgent need for improvements to bus services and infrastructure, as well as the wider regulatory and financial environment.
Policies are also needed to improve the quality, level of service and integration of taxis and water transport, as well as a requirement to consider higher capacity transit systems for the Brunei-Muara District in the context of urban growth and development.
The headline policy for this is to give priority to develop accessible, integrated, and high quality networks for modes of transportation that offer an alternative to the private car to promote modal shift.
Brunei has one of the highest levels of private vehicle ownership in the world with high use and dependency for all forms of trip making.
This is encouraged by the current policies that include the long-standing subsidy on petroleum which exerts a significant opportunity cost on government resources.
The levels of traffic congestion, whilst not yet acute by international standards, are increasing and becoming problematic at certain locations and certain times of day.
There is a need to tackle this situation ahead of the estimated future increase in demand through a combination of supply-led network optimisation and demand management approaches.
The headline policy for this is to reduce the need to travel and offer multi-modal travel choices, to mitigate existing and future levels of traffic congestion, journey time delay and resulting costs for people, communities and businesses. Manage the growth in car ownership and use in parallel with measures to improve alternative transport modes.