Construction of the new $400 million, 400-beds Alexandra@Yishun hospital is now underway, and is expected to be completed by march 2009 (It was first announced as an election promise by the PAP in the 2001 general elections, by the way. 8 years to build a hospital?)

Nicely nestled on a plot of land between the yishun interchange and yishun park, the hospital is expected to provide much needed services to Singaporeans living in the north. Currently, the nearest hospital is Tan Tock Seng hospital, which can be about 40 minutes away.

The bus interchange (which is just across the road) and the yishun mrt station make access to the new hospital convenient. There are also a few big coffeeshops around that area which will certainly benefit from the expected increase in human traffic. I am sure that the present row of shops facing the site of the new hospital will especially welcome this too, as most of them do not seem to be doing very well right now. Hope they can hold out until the hospital opens in 2009!

Is the public transport system adequate?

Yet it is also this expected increase in human traffic that raises questions of whether the transport system is adequate. Yishun is a small town with basically one shopping centre (Northpoint), & one cinema (Yishun10) where most ‘yishunites’ converge.

With the hospital serving the medical needs of virtually everyone in the north (for up to 10 years until the woodlands hospital is built, at least) – from Ang Mo Kio to Yishun, from Sembawang to Woodlands* to even SengKang (and perhaps even malaysians from Malaysia), I wonder what arrangements are being made in terms of public transport.

(*A new General Hospital to be built in Woodlands has since been announced.)

As it is, yishun mrt station is jam-packed in the morning and evening with commuters heading towards the northern towns and the southern parts of Singapore. The bus interchange sees long queues of people as well, especially for its feeder bus services. I am afraid that the human traffic will see a drastic jump in numbers once the hospital opens and this will certainly make transport the number one concern for residents.

Anyone who has driven to yishun will also know that the only road leading there from the south – Lentor Avenue – already sees very heavy traffic, especially in the morning and evening. Currently, as far as I know, there aren’t any plans to expand the road to cater to the expected increase in vehicle traffic. (Our ambulances too can’t be stuck in congestion, right?)

I hope that the authorities will allay some of the concerns that residents may have about this and look into the issue of public transport. It is not fun at all to have to fight your way through train stations and bus interchanges, rubbing shoulders with and unwittingly elbowing your fellow ‘fighters’ early in the morning on your way to work, and on your way home from a tiring day.

May I also suggest that underground pedestrian crossings be created instead of overhead bridges from both the bus interchange side and from the yishun park side. This will make it more convenient for the older folks to access the hospital.

The good stuff

Aside from the above concerns, what I like about the site is that it is sort of an ‘island’ on its own – cut off by 4 roads, with a pond right beside where the new hospital will be. I am glad that the pond will be preserved as it’s a very nice place to stroll, jog or just sit at. I am also sure that many residents appreciate this. We can only hope that the authorities or owners will not charge any fee or toll for access to the pond! And please do not fence it up! Leave it accessible to the public.

But the pond does need a bit of cleaning up, with maybe some benches and more trees planted for shade. Perhaps a few pavilions along the way will add to the calmness of the place as well. It would be great if areas can be reserved for picnics! (Yes, I believe the entire site – some 3 ha – is enough to accommodate this.)

Across the road on the other side is yishun park. It used to be just a park – until SAFRA opened its club there, smack right in the middle of it. What a disappointment, really. Nonetheless, if the park can somehow be incorporated into the entire plan of the hospital, it’ll certainly be wonderful.

Potential

So, if the authorities can look into the issue of transport and handle it (without any excuse to increase fares), it looks like the new hospital will not only serve residents well, it will also be a welcome addition to liven up the dullness of the north, although the business is still to cater to people who are sick.

Alexandra@Yishun has the potential to be a leading-edge hospital, at least as far as design is concerned. After all, they did send a team to a Toyota factory in Japan to study ‘lean thinking’, right?

Lets see if they can live up to this potential.

I’ll do regular updates for theonlinecitizen on the progress of the construction of this new hospital.

I’m keeping an eye on this one.

Stay tuned.

——————-

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