[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

[Views on public transport in Singapore]
The review of public transport is a bold move. After all, public transport is an everyday issue that affects most Singaporeans.

I believe Singaporeans want a system of bus service where fares are kept as low as possible. Of course other than when increasing oil rates cause fares to go up.

While there have been measures to help low-income families with the introduction of monthly unlimited bus passes, more can be done. For example, the disbursement of the Public Transport Fund vouchers can be extended to help needy families on a case-by-case basis over a period of a few months instead of only on a one-off basis.

The two transport operators, SBS Transit and SMRT, should work together to offer alternative schemes to provide assistance. Among that could be a universal transport pass that can be used for travel on all buses and trains. The rental fees of taxis can be reduced so that taxi drivers can earn enough to cover rising diesel costs. Several taxi drivers have said that even though fares are raised, their income remains more or less the same (maybe due to rising rental fees).

Quality checks can be conducted on buses to ensure that they are in good condition to travel on the road. There was once I had an enocunter with a silent alighting 'bell' which made me nearly miss my stop. Another time on service 132, there was this bus that had a noisy engine.

There's been a lot of talk about the enhancements on public transport too. TV Mobile is paid by MediaCorp but I wonder if those real-time information systems are sponsored. The GPS tracking system on buses was launched but is seldom used - I wonder if it is outdated and maybe has it become a white elephant. Yes, harnessing technology and implementing high tech stuff would enhance and provide better customer service. However, these costs should not be translated to the general commuters which in turn cause fares to rise - I hear the two transport operators made a tidy profit last year.

The transport operators also need to constantly ensure that waiting duration for buses to arrive is kept at a minimum especially during peak hours. My 103 has been arriving quite on the dot, so no complains as yet. Having frequent arrival of trains during peak hours alleviates the problem of overcrowding during peak hours - I wait not more than 5 minutes for my crowded train on the NEL everytime but it is still bearable although I have a little room to stand.

Taxis companies have to work together and strive to warn (or punish, is it too harsh?) errant cabbies that consistently avoid picking up passengers. There was once I saw a cab that was parked at the taxi stand close to midnight. He didn't want to pick up anyone. I wonder if the engine started roaring after the clock struck 12.

Singapore wants to have a world-class transport system for its world-class citizens. A world-class transportation system is one that not only caters to the man on the street but also to needy families that find it difficult to make ends meet. Hey, it rhymes.

I think with new transport Minister Raymond Lim on board, things will get better. Let's give him some time.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ephraim,

Transport is a challenging issue, because there are diverse stakeholders and so many priorities. Some of them may even appear divergent and difficult to reconcile: e.g. shareholder value and profits on the one hand, versus providing services as cheaply as possible.

Furthermore, the effects of transport policy transcend a single ministry.

I think that in reviewing the transport system, one key decision must be in deciding its priorities. When priorities are clear, the necessary decisions often flow naturally.

I'm mulling over some of these issues on my blog. You're welcome to pop by and post some ideas. It'd be interesting to hear from a PAP member. :)

Best wishes,
Speranza Nuova

Tuesday, November 07, 2006 4:24:00 pm


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