‘Green commuting’, gov’t says

Thursday, January 28, 2010
Issue 927, Page 3
Word count: 607
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Secretary for Transport and Public Works Lau Si Io said the government does not only encourage the use of public transportation, but also “green commuting” in order to build a sustainable society for Macau.

The Secretary, director of the Transport Bureau (DSAT) Wong Wan and other related officials presented the “Ideas for Macau’s Overall Land Transport Policy (2010 – 2020)” to the First Standing Committee at the Legislative Assembly yesterday.

According to Secretary Lau, traffic in old neighbourhood areas such as “Kou Si Tak” (Avenida de Horta e Costa), Nam Van and San Ma Lou could only be improved through “re-distribution of existing roads”, since no new roads are likely to be built there.

Therefore, he said that the government has always been promoting the use of public buses in society, which is supported by a study that shows that the number of passengers buses can transport is five to eight times higher than that of private cars.

Despite the Secretary is aware of residents and tourists’ difficulties in getting on buses especially during peak hours and in crowded areas, he argued that sending more buses on service will be “useless”, as all these buses “will just be caught in traffic jam and never reach the destinations”.

The key is on “the distribution of road surfaces” – to give buses more privileges to use roads, or to restrict private cars from entering certain areas or lanes conditionally.

Meanwhile, the DSAT director told the lawmakers inevitably buses will remain Macau’s only public transportation before the first phase of the light rail transit is expected to operate in 2014.

Wong said that during the past month when the land transport policy ideas were being introduced to public, he had been reminding people that “if they gain something, they will at the same time lose something”.

As such, he explained that Macau people have to face the reality that public transportation and private transportation cannot be enhanced together, and they must have to choose either one of them.

“Even if I put more buses in Rua do Campo, people could get on the buses but they would just sit there and wait and never get to where they want to go,” Wong said.

“If we reserved a lane only for buses, certainly it is good for the people who use public transport, but it also means that other car drivers will need to sacrifice,” he added.

One of the goals of the policy ideas is to achieve green commuting, which Secretary Lau said is as important as encouraging the use of public transport.

He reiterated that greener commuting is not only about saving money, but also saving the environment, reducing climate change, improving air quality and ensuring people’s health.

In 2008, the government statistics showed that private vehicles emitted carbon dioxide three times more than public buses.

However, the Secretary told the standing committee if the proportion between buses and cars could be changed at certain levels, Macau would be looking towards cutting down carbon dioxide emissions by 8.2 percent by 2016, and up to 16.4 percent by 2021.

On the other hand, a number of the lawmakers agreed with the policy ideas, but were worried about the long-term feasibility and whether the government will introduce complementary measures or regulations to ensure the plan’s effectiveness.

The Secretary responded that at this stage the plan is only a “conceptual framework”, adding that the government would like to give more attention to public opinions right now in order to first obtain a social consensus.

The deadline to submit opinions to the DSAT regarding the land transport policy ideas is on January 31.

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