The LTA just announced ways to revamp the transport industry. They have just released a transport masterplan, a copy of which was shown on National TV and I thought it’s a rather extravagant use of public funds.
The proposal involves many things, one being letting the grassroots take part in the discussion. Another is the possibility of giving more money to car owners when they scrap their cars. A move that is questionable and needs further study. Who in their right mind would not buy another car? It’s like the government giving you subsidies.
The problem, in my humble opinion, lies not so much on price problems. I don’t see the effectiveness in raising ERP prices or limiting the COE given out. There are other things to consider other than price problems. One of the more important factors, in my opinion, is the standard of our own PUBLIC TRANSPORT.
We have seen many fare increase over the past few years. Everytime the prices go up, we are promised a world class public transport system. But, is it truly world class? Fares have gone up, but standards have dropped. In fact, it is now easier to see a cockroach on a bus compared to a few years ago. Buses seem to be getting noisier and drivers seem to have this problem of stalling their engine.
A good public transport system is a determining factor on whether we choose to take public transport or private ones. The thing is not so much on the cost, whether it is expensive to own a car, for those who are in this equation are those who are able to afford a car anyway. The determining factor is whether the public transport is cheaper and as effective in bringing us to our desired destination.
If we have bus routes that are planned well to bring us to our desired destination in a comfortable and efficient manner, then why would we need cars? If we are able to get to places on time even on public transport, and not waste too much time, why would we need cars? If we can squeeze into the mrt during peak hours and have sufficient space to breathe so we won’t faint, why would we need cars?
Let’s not kid ourselves. Oil prices are rising (and falling sometimes), so it won’t be long before the public transport companies start to apply for fare increases. When that time comes, will they promise to be world class again? I think it is better to under-promise and over-deliver, than to over-promise and under-deliver, even though what you deliver may be the same.
Anyway, this forum letter (shown below) just shows us why public transport (including taxis) are not so appealing to us. Other than rude drivers, we have picky drivers, or drivers who cheat us by driving further to charge more. Is this efficient? No. If we truly want lesser cars, we should work and change our public transport system!
Cabby cheats take passengers for a ride
IT IS no doubt easier to get a cab nowadays during peak hours, because you can see long queues of empty taxis and zero passengers. This has led some cabbies to take desperate measures, bordering on the dishonest. As passengers are hard to come by, especially during expensive peak hours, drivers intentionally take a longer route, hoping to stretch and make more out of what may be the only fare they’ll pick up during this time.
I had suspicions a couple of times during recent rides but didn’t think much of them as I wasn’t 100 per cent sure of the shortest routes myself. However, my journey on March 21 was a familiar one from Marine Parade to home in Potong Pasir. Instead of turning into Lichi Avenue from Upper Aljunied Road, the driver drove past this well-known straight-road connection between Upper Aljunied Road and Potong Pasir and continued along Upper Aljunied Road before turning into Upper Serangoon Road and finally reaching Potong Pasir. I hadn’t paid close attention nearing the Lichi Avenue left turn and realised too late.
When I asked the driver, he said he didn’t like making many left and right turns along Lichi Avenue, and preferred the straight road. This was not true as taking Upper Aljunied Road and Upper Serangoon Road actually includes more turns and traffic lights. The cab company was Trans-
Cab. I am 100 per cent sure the driver was trying to lengthen the journey.
To substantiate my suspicions further, I must quote another driver who checked my destination before letting me in. After I got into the cab, he admitted if my journey had been a short one, he’d not have picked me up.
I hope all cab companies will remind drivers about integrity.
I would also like to remind passengers to stay alert during cab journeys and specify your preferred route – or else you may be taken for a longer ride.
Lee Li Cheng (Ms)