Maintaining and enhancing, Singapore’s world-class infrastructure and complex network of public transit is a massive undertaking for the LTA.
At present day, one might be surprised to learn that there are around 360 vehicular, 594 pedestrian, 2,301 traffic and 4,946 commuter facilities in Singapore, all of which are operated simultaneously. In addition, Singaporeans make a staggering total of 8.9 million journeys on public transport each day.
As one of the largest statutory boards in Singapore, the LTA’s central role in transport and infrastructure will always be pivotal to the nation, and teeming with opportunities for growth.
Spurred on by a uniquely visionary approach, it has already taken steps to accommodate the projected increase to 14.3 million daily journeys on public transport by 2020. Its goals for 2030 are even more ambitious - to have 80% of Singaporean homes be within a 10-minute walk from a train station.
This future-looking value of the LTA certainly extends to the emphatic support it gives to their employees to develop into adept professionals capable of being future leaders in the industry. LTA Overseas Undergraduate Scholar Liang Yuanruo is one such candidate.
An Ascending Journey
As a Data Scientist at LTA’s Data Analytics & Smart Nation Programme Office, Yuanruo has the behemoth responsibility of mining large data sets. These can be as large as several terabytes in size, using a variety of big data platforms and algorithms. He then uses this data to derive analytical insights aimed at solving some of the nation’s transport problems.
Yuanruo recalls some of the support initiatives provided by the LTA scholarship which allowed him to develop the skills that serve him well at a Data Scientist today. In particular, his undergraduate internship with LTA. “I was working with an engineering team, and tasked to build an airflow simulation model for the underground bus depot at Jurong Point for validating air quality. The experience taught me about how engineering design affects the safety and quality of life of residents in Singapore. And about how knowledge from academia could actually be applied in real-life to guide and validate engineering design decisions, which really helped me understand,” he shares.
With support from the scholarship, Yuanruo secured his bachelor’s in Engineering and Business Finance from University College London and the London School of Economics. This was then followed with pursuing his master’s in Computing Science at Imperial College London. He enthuses, “Living abroad greatly encouraged me to become a more reliable and independent person. Also, interacting with fellow students and faculty members overseas taught me to espouse and critically understand different views on a wide range of subjects.”
Land Transport Authority
Overseas Undergraduate Scholar
Data Analytics & Smart Nation Programme Office
Making a Difference with People
LTA’s people-centred approach was a huge draw for Yuanruo from the start. “It was clear that LTA was one of the few agencies that can directly make a difference to the lives of everyday Singaporeans. Given that everyone needs to travel around our Little Red Dot, there was no doubt that LTA was the right organisation for me to effect change and improve lives,” he muses.
He also cites the gruelling challenges him and his colleagues preserved through to successfully launch the nationwide bus arrival time system as a stand-out memory from his career with the LTA thus far. This event has special significance to Yuanruo because of the scale of people this initiative could help daily. He recalls, “When we launched the bus arrival time system, there were many blind spots which caused inaccurate arrival times. We worked tirelessly to isolate the issues, and today the system is able to run very well - generating millions of bus predictions every day. The system also serves all bus arrival time applications in Singapore, and helps people plan their time better.”
A Network of Opportunities
Buoyed by his success in finding his professional calling with the LTA, Yuanruo shares his thoughts on just how complex and expansive the statutory board is, “The LTA’s work is all-encompassing as it regulates every aspect of land transport in Singapore. Other than regulatory functions, the LTA oversees the construction of rail infrastructure and the planning of bus services. We also work closely with other agencies such as Urban Redevelopment Authority, Housing and Development Board and National Parks Board.”
The extensive responsibilities of the LTA make it replete with career opportunities for young talent. For aspiring scholars who find themselves drawn to the same perks which have helped mould Yuanruo into the savvy professional he is today, he has one advice for them. “Those who apply should be deeply passionate about public service, and the development of land transport in Singapore. They should also consider how their interests overlap and align with the transportation sector,” he concludes.