Thursday, August 27, 2009

Shorter F1 road closure period to minimise disruptions

Organisers of this year's Singapore Grand Prix hope a shorter period of road closure will minimise disruptions to traffic and businesses. Roads will be closed for seven days instead of the 12 days last year. Race organisers will also be beefing up public transport services during the road closure period from September 23 to 29. During the race weekend, up to 650 more train trips will be added, which will run until 1.15am. But what is significant this year is that all taxis will be allowed to enter restricted areas, without the need for special F1 decals.

Restricted areas include Temasek Boulevard via Rochor Road, as well as the single-lane road along Raffles Boulevard. But the new allowance does not apply to race hours, when only vehicles with F1 decals will be allowed in. Race hours are from 9pm to 11pm on September 25 and 26, and from 7pm to 10pm on September 27. Organisers hope the new taxi access will attract more people to visit retail and food and beverage outlets affected by the road closures. Justin Chew, director of F1 project, Singapore Tourism Board, said: "We are a lot more efficient this year, and we are a lot better. All the safety considerations have been addressed. So there is no need to avoid the area."

For race ticket holders, free shuttle services will take them to the race venue from Lavander, Kallang, Outram Park and Clarke Quay MRT stations. Those who will be heading to the affected area are also advised to plan their journey in advance to avoid unnecessary confusion over the road closures. The public can pick up an information leaflet on the road closures at petrol stations, shopping centres and hotels.

Despite the new measures to ease traffic congestion, some feel that more can be done. Michael Ma, CEO, IndoChine Group, said: "I feel that a lot of the roads do not even need to be closed at all, like in Monaco. I keep hearing the same story that Singapore is different from Monaco but to me, the car is the same - the same driver, the same organisation, the same speed. Why do we have to go through such hardship with road closures, and disrupt the whole city’s lifeline? And for seven days, that is ridiculous."

Race organisers stress that public transport is still the best way to travel into the Marina Bay area during the Singapore GP season, and it is also a speedier alternative for fans going to the F1 Rocks concert at Fort Canning Park.

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