In Budget 2012, the Government is setting aside $1.1 billion for the purchase of 550 buses and to meet their running cost for the next 10 years. I wish to suggest that the budget for public transport be used in the following ways:
- Provide express bus services to operate between the major bus interchanges in the town centers, with minimal stops along the way
- Provide feeder services to operate with the towns to provide a fast, low cost and convenient way to bring the residents from their homes to the trains stations or bus interchanges and back home
- Consider the use of the small buses for the feeder services
- Allow the the express and feeder services to be operated by a wider selection of operators and not be restricted to the large listed companies.
- Regulate the fares on these services as a significant share of the cost is funded by the government
This new public transport infrastructure can complement the existing services by bringing commuters to the transport hub and can also act as a backup in the event of major disruption of our train services. By providing a viable alternative, it can also put competitive pressure on the existing operators to moderate their fare increases in the future.
If this new infrastructure makes it difficult for the existing bus operators to run viably, the Government can modify the vehicle and ERP charges for public transport to achieve a level playing field.