It is other factors (not price) that determines whether we take public transport

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)

8 thoughts on “It is other factors (not price) that determines whether we take public transport

  1. You are dead right on this matter. People buys car for 2 reasons – the public transport sucks and they really needed one (people who do sales for e.g.).

    Here are some examples some of the gripes about our world class transport:

    1) I saw a twit by a pingster (I think it’s DK) the other day talking about the MRT trip from Bugis to Somerset in which he wasted 11mins – waiting.

    2) There was a day when I took the MRT from Dhoby Gaut to Little India in which the trip is 1.5mins and I spent more than 4 min waiting. I mean obviously no one saw how absurd it was that the waiting time was 3 times the travelling time, even though I agree it would have been faster than me taking the bus!

    3) There was another day I needed a bus from Fullerton Hotel to Marina Square because I was late and I end up waiting 20 mins for either bus 97 / 75 when several 131s, 100s, 10s, and 196s (plus even a 70, which comes every 20 mins) went past. Had I walked, I would have reached way ahead anyway.

    4) Take also the bus 157 or 198 coming out of Boon Lay Interchange. Taking a ride on this bus in the morning peak hours, and I can assure you that you won’t get out of Jurong even after 20mins because it prowls Jurong West and Jurong East Ave 1. And when we have a spook and hub system, then why are these inter-town buses prowling the routes where feeders are already prowling… AGAIN?

    5) Then look at bus 51 which travels out of Jurong East to Hougang. It goes around Taman Jurong, Pasir Panjang, Alexander, Queensway, Alexandra, China Town.. * yawn * I assure you anyone who has tried doing a trip from Jurong East to Hougang should bring a bottle of water and ignore the no eating / drinking rule because you’ll die of thirst when the bus reach Hougang… 1.5 – 2hrs later!

    * In fact, is there any inter-town buses that can get you between towns in less than half an hour?

    6) The MRT. Does the LTA not know that the satellite town concept means there’s a low turnover of passengers in between stations? For e.g. if you use the N-S line northbound, you will notice that almost every station there’s a nett gain of commuters until Toa Payoh onwards? Or the E-W line westbound, you will notice that the trains are usually packed until Jurong East?

    This gahmen is talking out of its ARSE when it talks about a world class system without considering just how this blasted system that meets the generic performance matrix is in complete shambles when you include it’s true performance and daily commuter comfort for those travelling long distances to work. And now, don’t tell me to find a job that’s near home because a job I don’t take are taken up by Foreign Talents!

  2. Yes, I agree. There is more to be done in the Transport Ministry than putting up beautiful master plans printed on good quality paper. Let’s just hope that once their plans get implemented, we see some real improvement to the public transport situation in Singapore. That would be a real incentive not to buy a car, given the high prices. Else, I will probably try to buy a car rather than taking public transport.

  3. At the end of the day, the real problem in my opinion, is we have these idiots making the decisions for us when they themselves don’t take the public transport themselves. Should start leading by example. If you think it’s world-class then even a minister should have no problem getting about on a train, bus or taxi.

  4. Yes I do agree. It is hard to make any decisions when one goes on by car and is not affected by ERP because the ministerial pay is too high.

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