Transport Minister Says LTA & MOT Staff Start Work At 7.30AM Or 10.30AM, Work From Home Half The Time

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives in many ways, and one of them is the way we work.

Since last year’s ‘Circuit Breaker’, more Singaporeans have started working from home to reduce the likelihood of catching the virus at the workplace or on public transport.

However, it seems that as we entered Phase 3 in Dec, more workers have been going to the office, causing increasing crowds on buses and trains.

Thus, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung has urged employers to allow staff returning to the office to start work at off-peak timings.

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As this reduces the crowds on public transport, it makes our rides safer, he added.

Peak-hour passenger volumes rose by 11% in Jan

In a Facebook post on Friday (22 Jan), Mr Ong revealed a disconcerting statistic.

The peak-hour passenger volumes on buses and trains increased by 11% this month.

That’s compared with before the year-end season, he said.

This increase coincided with Singapore’s move into Phase 3 on 28 Dec.

The easing of measures meant that employees who were working from home could return to the workplace to better support operations.

Peak-hour rush is unnecessary: Ong Ye Kung

However, even though more workers are returning to the office, the peak-hour rush is “totally unnecessary”, said Mr Ong.

That’s because companies are able to take advantage of technology to help them work smarter.

After all, the technology that allowed us to work from home (WFH) during the ‘Circuit Breaker’ can still be used now to ensure we don’t add to the peak-hour crowds.

For staff who have to return to the office, he also urged employers to allow them to start work at off-peak hours.

Public-service workplaces are setting the example

For example, workplaces in the public service are setting an example by being the first to allow off-peak working hours.

Land Transport Authority (LTA) staff can report for work at either 7.30am or 10am, Mr Ong said, allowing them to beat the peak-hour crowds.

They can also WFH half the time.

Staff at the Ministry of Transport (MOT) have similar working arrangements, he added.

Spreading out the load leads to safer rides

Despite the Government’s encouragement, some employers may be unconvinced that off-peak travel will make a difference.

To that, Mr Ong explains that the practice will allow the spreading out of passenger loads on buses, trains and roads.

It’s a no-brainer that if all workers in Singapore start work at different times, they’ll be taking public transport at different times too.

That means instead of a large number of people all gathering to get to work at the same time, we’ll have a smaller crowd at different times in the morning.

With smaller crowds, social distancing is easier and any Covid-19 case will spread the virus to fewer people.

That makes rides safer, Mr Ong said.

More reason to shift our travelling habits

Even before Covid-19, travelling to work at off-peak hours was encouraged as it reduced peak-hour crowds.

Now Covid-19 is among us, all the more reason to take the opportunity to shift our travelling habits, Mr Ong said.

Employers, if you’re listening to the minister, do heed his call to make our community safer. It’s about time our work culture changes for the better.

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Featured image from MS News.