In a highly populated metropolis like Singapore, a convenient, inclusive, and fast transport system is needed to keep the city constantly moving. That is the work of the Land Transport Authority (LTA), which also leverages technology to strengthen Singapore’s rail and bus infrastructure, and provide exciting options for future land transport.
Being able to make a positive difference to the lives of Singaporeans brings LTA scholars Kenneth Koh, 26, and Low Joo Hui, 30, meaning to their work. BrightSparks speaks to them to find out more.
Driven By Interest
For both Kenneth and Joo Hui, applying for the LTA Overseas Undergraduate Scholarship was a natural choice. As a young child, Kenneth’s parents would often find him drawing out bus routes with the help of a street directory. “I’ve been interested in transport for as long as I can remember,” he says. As the statutory board that handles Singapore’s transport policies, LTA was the workplace of his childhood dreams.
Kenneth Koh Hang Chang
Executive Transport Planner
Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering – University of Illinois
Master of Science in Transportation – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Similarly, for Joo Hui, LTA’s work combines both her desire to serve the public, as well as her strong interest in Urban Geography. She is particularly fascinated by the way planned cityscapes heavily influence the type of social interactions that take place in the urban environment.
She elaborates, “Transport is a key component of the urban landscape and since it affects everyone on a daily basis, it is something that has great impact on the public at large.”
Effort That Goes A Long Way
As a Manager in LTA’s Active Mobility Group, Joo Hui’s work impacts lives every day. Her current work involves keeping pedestrians and other road users safe by reviewing the policies for the safe usage of active mobility devices such as bicycles and personal mobility devices (PMDs) on paths and roads. Joo Hui previously worked on regulations for dockless bicycle sharing operators too.
She shares, “While we take reference from other countries and regulatory frameworks of other industries in Singapore, we had to create our own set of policy and operational rules for regulating dockless bicycle sharing as it was relatively new then – and it was my privilege to have been part of that.”
What keeps her going is also the knowledge that her effort and hard work will make life a little easier for someone else, she adds. Joo Hui vividly remembers a member of the public who called to share how the indiscriminate parking of bicycles had affected the mobility of her mother, who had walking difficulties.
“I explained to her that we were introducing regulations but that it would take time. She shared with me that she hopes these regulations could be implemented more quickly as the situation was affecting her mum’s well-being,” she explains.
“Whenever I am stumped by the problems at work, or frustrated by the way things are going, I will recall this conversation, and find the motivation to keep trying.”
Finding Your Place
Countless opportunities are also afforded to LTA scholars to help them grow before officially entering the workforce. For instance, an internship with LTA’s Rolling Stock Division as an undergraduate – where Kenneth assisted in overseeing the delivery, testing, and commissioning of new trains – made him realise where his interests lay.
Low Joo Hui
Manager, Active Mobility
Double Degree in Economics & Geography – University College London
Master of Science in Transportation – Imperial College London
“I was more interested in the overall conceptualisation and design of the rail lines than the actual engineering required to construct and maintain a functioning rail network. This set me on the path towards the Strategic Planning Division (SPL) and Transport Planning,” he says.
As an Executive Transport Planner in SPL, Kenneth’s work involves analysing commuter data to identify gaps in the public transport network and plan future infrastructure to cater to predicted travel demands, as well as pitching these ideas to upper management. “This requires a very thorough understanding of the initiative I am pushing, and constantly keeps me on my toes,” he shares.
Studying overseas at the University of Illinois and later completing a Masters in Transportation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) also enabled Kenneth to try many things that he would otherwise not have had the opportunity to. This included speaking at international transportation conferences and being part of large-scale transportation simulation projects, among others.
He elaborates, “This gave me a much greater breadth of transportation knowledge, something that is very useful especially as a transport planner where long-term planning and understanding of new technologies is key.”
Like Kenneth, Joo Hui studied overseas and completed a Joint Degree in Economics and Geography at University College London, and later a Masters in Transportation at Imperial College London. She recalls, “Living in London where announcements are made only when all the Tube lines are working definitely made me appreciate our transport system in Singapore, where we only make announcements when there are disruptions!”
Serving The Public
Those looking to apply for this scholarship should have the desire to serve the public, advises Joo Hui. On top of that, a keen interest in land transport matters is equally important.
She says, “For those looking for a challenge and opportunities to learn a wide array of skills, LTA, being at the forefront of hotbutton topics and covering diverse areas of work, is definitely the place to be.”