AFTER working in a ministry for eight years, Mr Alex Ang felt it was time to step out of his comfort zone.

Last year, he found a new job at the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on the Career@Gov website.

It was the right move to make, because Mr Ang, now a senior manager in LTA’s Policy (Rail Development) Division, enjoys the professional challenges that are part and parcel of his job.

The 36-year-old, who has a master’s degree in applied anthropology from Australian National University, says: “I enjoyed my previous job, but I was feeling too comfortable. I felt that I needed a change to grow professionally and personally.”

In his current role, he supervises a team of four officers with engineering and social science backgrounds.

Working together

The team makes it a point to stay up to date about the best rail models globally and hold regular discussions with foreign regulators and operators.

They also visited the United Kingdom, Sweden and Hong Kong to study their rail industry models.

For every new rail project, the team first reviews the outcomes and performance of past rail projects and studies international rail models.

“We use the information obtained to develop and implement new commercial and governance frameworks
for the new lines.

“These frameworks ensure the close cooperation and coordination of all stakeholders towards the common objective of operating a high-performing and highly reliable line,” says Mr Ang.

Together with his team members, he works closely with the engineering and regulatory teams, as well as public transport operators, to consolidate goals and objectives, assess risks and responsibilities, and formulate contractual agreements and licences.

“As licences to operate the lines are usually for more than 10 years, we need to put frameworks that are not only robust enough to address all foreseeable outcomes, but also flexible enough to allow for future modifications in the event of unforeseen outcomes,” he explains.

These efforts, which are necessary to ensure that Singapore’s public transport system continues to excel in accessibility, reliability and connectivity, are made more challenging by new benchmarks.

By 2030, Singapore’s rail network will grow from about 230km to 360km. Eight in 10 households will live within a 10-minute walk of an MRT station.

“The rail network will also be well complemented by our bus services. The Policy (Rail Development) Division will continue to play an important role in improving the reliability and quality of the rail network with the frameworks we have implemented,” says Mr Ang.

“For example, for the Thomson-East Coast Line Operator Tender, we introduced a pilot incentive-disincentive framework.

“It ties the service fee received by the operator to its performance in key areas such as service reliability, customer satisfaction, and operations and maintenance process,” he adds.

Finding fulfilment

Mr Ang and his team often have to work under tight deadlines.

He says: “There are days when the work is extremely challenging, but when I see how the fruits of my work directly improve the lives of fellow Singaporeans, I’m reminded of why I need to get the job done.” Thankfully, he is surrounded by equally driven and passionate colleagues who are always ready to help out — as well as a supportive family.

“My wife loves that I work hard every day to improve her daily commute, and my two-year-old son thinks I am the coolest dad who gets to work with trains.

“It is with my wife’s support that I am able to invest myself fully in helping LTA achieve its objectives,” says Mr Ang.

To those who are interested in pursuing a similar career in LTA, he says: “The most important quality a policy officer should possess is an open and curious mind, as he needs to consider and weigh different opinions, and be relentless and thorough in working out details before arriving at conclusions.”

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