Friday, July 22, 2011

Statement from Tan Kin Lian - Public Transport Fares

Many Singaporeans have expressed their unhappiness in the Internet and other channels over the requests by the public transport operators, namely the SMRT and SBS Transit,  to increase their train and bus fares.

The public argued that the public transport operators are already making big profits for their shareholders, paying high salaries for their chief executives (as reported in their annual reports) and are operating in an near monopolistic situation with little competition in their respective market segments.

They also complained about the crowded buses and trains, unreliable service, poor level of customer service (due to insufficient or poorly trained workers) and over-charging of fares (due to system fault).

I echo the views of the public and wish to ask the Public Transport Council to delay any fare increase until the public transport operators can provide more capacity and improve the standard of service, namely to provide a more comfortable ride with shorter waiting and travelling time.

I also ask the public transport operators to consider their responsibility to the public and keep the fares at a reasonable level. The operators should try to reduce their operating costs, especially in the high salaries paid to top managers, and reduce other expenses, for example in the adoption of expensive systems, that do not directly improve the quality of service provided to commuters.

I recognise the duty of the public transport operators to provide a return on investment to shareholders, but wish to point out that the return should be fair and not excessive, and should not be at the expense of the commuting public, especially those at the low income levels who have no choice but to take public transport.

If the Public Transport Council agrees to increase the fares, to offset the uncontrollable increase in  operating costs, I ask the Council to request that more concessions be given to senior citizens, low income families and students to offset the increases.

I also ask the Minister of Transport and the Land Transport Authority to take urgent steps to revamp the public transport system in Singapore by increasing the capacity and encouraging more effective competition among the public transport operators. 

This can be achieved by allowing more private bus operators to run express bus services between the towns to increase competition and provide more choice to commuters. The express bus services should be supplemented by efficient feeder services. We can study the popular and successful system adopted in Hong Kong, where small light buses are used to ferry commuters between the homes and the bus and train stations. We should be open to change our system and adapt the successful models from overseas to suit our own circumstances

I have published my proposals on the improvement of the public transport system over the past two years. I have also written to the Transport Minister on these proposals. I urge the Minister for Transport and the Land Transport Authority to give urgent consideration to these proposals.

Public transport is an issue that is of high concern to the people of Singapore. I wish to voice their concerns and urge the Public Transport Council, the Land Transport Authority and the Minister for Transport to find solutions that are best for the people.

Tan Kin Lian


SK said...

The Govt should also waive the 9 am barrier for senior sitizens to enjoy the concessions. If they travel on public transport before 9 am , there must be a compelling reason for them to do so, not that they want to join the crowd.


yujuan said...

SMRT and Delgro are actually a cartel in collaboration in pricing transport services, with the PTC, a biased Govt appointed Agency, as a partner in disguise.
Higher prices mean higher dividends to be paid to GLCs who are the biggest shareholders of these two listed Companies.
Conflict of interest is so blatantly apparent, and they call it having competition. Actually PTC is an anti-competitive Agency with selfish, self interest.

ZTan said...

I like the idea of small light bus. If it's implemented with Infocomm Technology + mobile phone booking system, buses can dynamically shuttle through routes with passengers and skip those without one - to make the routes more efficient and burn less fuel, especially during off-peak hour. Taxi operator should lower or remove the call booking fee of $2.50 to encourage 100% call booking, so our taxi drivers don't need to tour around for passengers, to cut fuel and lower operating cost. They can also take their time to chit-chat or lim kopi when there's really no passenger.

Tan Kin Lian said...

Dear Mr. Tan

My response:
I've never had bad taxi service until recent years.

It's ok for new drivers not to know every place in Singapore, but they should not be shy to tell us that they don't know. Most commuters would be happy to direct the taxi drivers to their location.

But I was told to get out of a big taxi van by an Indian driver when I was giving him directions - he said I made him feel stressed. That guy behaved like a ruffian - but I decided not to complain against him as I might ruin his situation.

Then they are also picky about the place you want to go.

I found out that some taxi drivers are retired people who just want a car so that they can move around - and driving a taxi is cheaper than buying a car.

This morning, about five taxis zoomed past me. The new drivers don't understand that to pick a customer, they have to keep to the left lane, drive slowly so that they can easily see a potential commuter stepping out onto the road. So they missed me by seconds, because they drive too fast or keep to the right lane.

Also, whoever acquire the taxis for Comfort must be very dumb. How can you choose vehicles with big back window that let in a lot of sunlight? They are more suitable for northern hemisphere than a tropical country in Singapore.

I also understand that Comfort made it difficult for the old drivers by imposing harsh rules - if they made just a few mistakes like accidents, they are told to go. I see a large number of them disappearing almost overnight. I don't know wht Comfort seemed to hate them and have them replaced by hordes of inexperienced drivers.

MRT trains - ours are bad compared to the subways in Japan, which is clean, have clear announcements and provide smooth rides.

The MRT should maintain the tracks every day after the runs. The ticketing system is also stupid with few functions. They also don't operate properly - the coins keep going down the exit chute even when they are the right coins for insertion.

While the Govt advises Singaporeans to take public transport, it doesn't provide enough and proper lighting, shelters and rest areas for commuters. These will be useful in an ageing society.

The road signs are deplorable. Road and street signs are lacking for some stretches. And worse still, wrong signs are put up.

The exit from Bedok North to Bartley Road North flyover is called 'To Kaki Bukit Avenue 4'. It should be called To Bartley Road North Flyer, and then later, First Exit: Kaki Bukit Avenue 4.

From a Singapore Commuter

womaninthestreet said...

The income gal in Singapore and around the world is getting wider. A man or woman in the street has to shoulder numerous responsibilities, including bringing the bacon home. Government ought to do its level best to curb the escalating costs of living in Singapore, thereby making Singapore a liveable city. Financial aid should be extended to those who earn less than 3k a month.

Its ME said...

I really thank you Mr Tan Kin Lian to share with us your analysis and even provide alternative which is constructive and cost saving for both commuters and the operator.

Tan Hwa said...

Everytime there is a price increase,reason would be buy new vehicle ,provide good service.I thought it's their responsibilities/duites to provide
such services.Since that is the reason tell them not to buy new vechicle etc.there should have their own cost down policy like find a cheaper source,do remember
the bus stop they built last time cost a huge amount.

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