More breakdowns = higher fares, no penalties?

Is the reasoning behind our public transport policies flawed – one of the least reliable and most expensive fares in the world?

I refer to the article “Linking public transport fares to reliability could worsen situation: Khaw Boon Wan” (Channel NewsAsia, May 18).

It states that “Public transport fares and reliability are two separate matters, and linking the two could worsen the situation, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Friday (May 18).”

As to “Mr Tan had suggested adding a reliability component to the fare formula to penalise operators through lower fares for not performing up to standard.

But this could worsen the situation, Mr Khaw said.

“When a system is very unreliable, in fact that is the time to pump in more resources … and if you punish them through reduced fares, you are withdrawing resources from the operators and you’ll be doing exactly the opposite. The wrong thing” – this reasoning may arguably be somewhat illogical.

If transport operators are not penalised for not maintaining service standards – where is the deterrent or incentive to have good service standards?

With regard to “The funding would have to come from “either taxpayers through subsidies or commuters through fares”, he said, adding that the PTC has been tasked to balance the interest of both sides” – such illogical reasoning in respect of service standards and funding (by consumers) has resulted in arguably, the outcomes of having one of the least reliable transport systems and most expensive fares in the world.

With transport revenue to the government of about $9 billion a year – why not use just some of this so that fares do not have to keep increasing?

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.