The alternative news in 1 day? (part 20) – – Give buses and to be rewarded via bus trial?


Jan 8, 2013

Bus trial fines or incentives?

Further to my article “The alternative news in 1 day? (part 18) – Fine transport operators” (Jan 7), I understand from Terry Xu, Executive Editor of theonlinecitizen,  that 15 of the 22 bus services selected for the trial are under the Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP) – comprising partly 550 buses funded by the Government.

Most of the bus services selected are BSEP?

Why is it that such a high percentage – 68 per cent (15 divided by 22) – are BSEP services?

Easier to get incentive?

Given that the Government is funding more buses for these services – does it mean that it may be easier to get the “earlier” than schedule incentive? Less likely to be fined for being late?

How were these services selected?

How were these 15 and 22 bus services selected?

What process, criteria or rationale went into the selection?

Can all these be made public information?

The commuting public’s interest?

So, first we use taxpayers’ money to help the operators’ get more buses. Then, we will under the subject trial scheme – reward them (with taxpayers’ money) or fine them (fines passed on to commuters) – and we are also expecting the transport operators’ applications to increase fares to be approved?

Where on earth – is the commuters’ interest in all this?

LTA charging rail operators more?

Oh – and I just read in the newspaper today “Rail operators to pay higher fees” (Straits Times, Jan 8) – “Rail operators in Singapore will pay as much as 21/2 times more in annual fees to the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

In all, the regulator will collect $7.53 million or $1.75 million more from April, when the increases take effect, said a government gazette.

The sum, however, excludes the fee of the new Downtown Line 1, which opened last month.

Must pay more to get better regulation?

Explaining the hikes, an LTA spokesman said yesterday: “The main reason is we have stepped up our regulatory oversight and put in place more stringent monitoring of performance standards.” This was necessary “to bring about a better travel experience for commuters”, she added.

The move follows recommendations from a high-level Committee of Inquiry that called on the LTA to improve its oversight of rail maintenance, after two major breakdowns in 2011″

– So, so many things connected with public transport will increase – to the detriment of commuters, or to benefit us as the media reports are trying to portray?

Won’t be passed on to commuters?

As to “The fee rises are unlikely to be passed on directly to commuters.

Said Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport chairman Cedric Foo: “In the scheme of things, the fees make up a very small proportion of operators’ revenue.” He added that any cost increase “does not automatically lead to higher fares” because the Public Transport Council’s fare formula limits how much fares can be adjusted each year. The formula calculates this cap based on such components as inflation and national wage increases.

SMRT Corp which bears the brunt of the fee rises said: “These regulatory costs are part of the higher costs that public transport operators have to bear.””

– Do you believe and accept all the above explanations that the increase will not be passed on to commuters?

With the billions that we collect every year from COE, ERP, vehicle taxes, fines, etc – and we still want to charge rail operators more in order to better regulate them?

Rewarding “poor” regulators?

The fact that there were so many breakdowns and other problems, may indicate that the regulators were not doing a good job in the first place. So, instead of “fining” them (the regulators) – we may end up having to pay them more in order to do a better job which they may have arguably, failed to do in the first place and giving the PTOs a free rein over the monopoly they have on the industry?

Uniquely Singapore!

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.