20141002 A broken public transport system, “free bus services and bus bridging” is not free

On 23 September, yet another train breakdown along the North-South line inconvenienced thousands of passengers. According to FAILRAIL.sg, this is the 16th breakdown in 2014.

Singaporeans must continue to KPKB because the PAP is not serious about addressing the issue which is tied to our insane population growth. The PAP just keeps throwing billions of tax dollars and pray the problem will somehow resolve by itself. Without the billion$ in financial support, our system would have already collapsed, no thanks to poor management.

One of the factors leading to frequent breakdowns is the increased train frequency. Our rail network was not designed for the current population.

Our rail network system was conceived in 1967 when our population was about 2 million. In 1980, our population was only 2.4 million. Our MRT system was actually designed with a population of 4 million in mind. Confirmation:

In URA’s Revised Concept Plan 1991, the government had wanted “to develop a viable land transport network that could meet the demand of a population of 4 million by the year 2030”. A gradual population growth rate allows for issues to be ironed out and citizens can also have a good quality of life.

Year 2030 arrived 30 years earlier in 2000 after some wise leader laid out the red carpet for immigrants and allowed the population to increase by 100,000 annually. Was there any planning? Or simply ramping up GDP figures to justify GDP bonuses?

Another confirmation is each train has only 6 carriages and our platforms were not even designed for expansion! Good planning? Compare this with trains in Hong Kong which have 8 carriages.

Bad planning just got worse when the PAP government insisted on increasing the population to 6.9 million by 2030. LTA’s solution – remove seats (all if possible) from some carriages!

Hmm … isn’t our government aware of the ageing population issue? So expect elderly citizens to sit on the train floor?

Our train system will never improve under CEO like paper general Desmond Kuek who had zero experience in transportation. Maybe Kuek’s responsibility for all the army military transport counts as experience?

When the LTA punishes PTOs with fines, commuters are in effect being punished for our PTOs’ failure. The $2 million fine paid by SMRT reduces its profit by $2 million and it will then KPKB to the PAP about high business costs to justify future fare hikes.

And why should the fines be used to help needy families with transport fares? Isn’t it the role of the government to help the needy? It seems commuters are the losers for every action taken by the authorities.

Increasing train frequency and increasing ridership/population may be good for our GDP but commuters ultimately suffer. The system has a 4 million population limit and we’re now at 5.4 million heading towards 6.9 million. The next major breakdown is only a matter of time and a new record for the number of affected commuters will likely be set.

Commuters have been hoodwinked into thinking a “free bus services and bus bridging” exists. What is free from the PAP in Singapore?

Our public transport system has been privatised and the authority in charge is LTA. But whenever there are screw ups, not once has LTA been held accountable. Replacing $6,000-per-day-Ferrari-owning ex CEO with zero experience ex military man Kuek is not going to make any difference to commuters. At every stage, commuters have been made to pay for an expensive broken system with fare hikes. Worse, commuters are also taxpayers.

There’s nothing free under the PAP. We should be mindful of “free bus services and bus bridging” because the next fare hike will take into account this “free” service.

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7 Responses to 20141002 A broken public transport system, “free bus services and bus bridging” is not free

  1. Isupportyou says:

    This is as good as monopoly because there is no equivalent alternative available.

    Take it or leave it because there is simply no short of admirers as it is overcrowded.

    This is an area I totally do not understand why is fares continuing to go up even when service is going down? In a real private corporate world if you are a small SME, you will have to fight your own survival, SMRT? There is not a need because there is no competition from other competitors with equivalent caliber.

    Another thing that I also do not understand is, if LTA really has a solution to the pertinent problems, instead of carrying out repair work only during non operating hours of the train which may well be less than 5 hours (effective working hours may only be 3 hours if you take away mob & demob time of 2 hours) which is highly unproductive. I do not know who is footing the bill? (I have seen pictures showing workers would basically work on every or every other sleepers of the track and many of them crowded together. This cannot be cheap because each and every sleeper is getting dedicated attention and service). Taxpayers? SMRT? I believe it is still the commuters who are also mostly taxpayers in whatever way.

    Can’t LTA look into closing the line section by section completely for repair so work can be expedited and suffering will be minimised once for all? Of course, if nobody knows the actual root cause of the issues, it doesn’t justify for doing so?

  2. Stuly Kan says:

    SMRT just bought a share in a Japanese company selling MRT trains.This shows that they are still focused on making money. Despite the system breaking down so often, they still have so much time and energy to look for investment opportunities instead of trying to improve the system.
    You can be sure that Smrt will direct LTA to buy all their trains from this company at inflated prices so as to achieve more profits at the expense of the Singapore taxpayers as both LTA and Smrt are controlled by temasek directly or indirectly.

    This kind major conflict of interest is happening all the time and I’m surprised the opposition doesn’t dare to bring it up as one of the biggest issues with the present government.

    • phillip ang says:

      Most public services have been privatised. Conflict of interest not only in SMRT. All the talk about having transparency, accountability and a first world parliament by the WP all hot air. So many issues on transparency but the WP’s solution is silence? Or ask questions which don’t seem to have addressed any? Kenneth or Chee would have done a better job any time.

  3. Xmen says:

    Two comments –

    I agree with Stuly Kan. Temasek and GIC rarely lose money in their local investments as compared to their overseas investments. In the case of SMRT, no major city in developed countries has figured out a way to make public transport profitable. The fact that SMRT is making money shows you that taxpayers are subsidizing their profits. This is really an indirect tax on the public, and a regressive one at that.

    I also agree with Phillip that the fines not be used to help needy families with transport fares. What happens with the fine is used up? The government basically acknowledge that there is a need but refuse to fund it because of its ideology.

  4. phillip ang says:

    The PAP will continue to have its own way as long as it holds absolute power. SMRT (and other TLCs) MUST be profitable to help Temasek maintain its status as the no. 1 fund manager in the universe, earning an impossible rate of return since inception!
    Temask and GIC can never lose money where local investments are concerned. Legislations can always be tweaked eg ‘encouraging’ more to take public transport, PTC approving fare increase with ridiculous justifications, etc.
    Sad to say, taxpayers and citizens will continue to pay the price. 😦

  5. wongcheokwan says:

    Ass a minister for transport subsidy,he will tell you
    1)Nothing is free
    2)There must be a tradeoff
    3)Subsidy is bad,the cuntry can get into financial mess.

    I have seen a banner outside an MRT station saying
    FREE MRT RIDES BEFORE 7.45 AM (ALIGHTING FROM
    CERTAIN STATIONS)

    Singaporeans are being lied to.

  6. Pingback: MRT Breakdowns: If PAP Does Not Fire Paper General-CEO, Commuters Should Fire PAP | Rilek1Corner.com

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