Transports Woes in Singapore

Everybody needs to commute.

We need to commute to work, commute to school, commute to get our groceries, commute to visit friends, commute to see a doctor, etc. Commuting is an essential part of our life, much like breathing air.

Transports woes can inflict a lot of pain and inconvenience to the average Singaporeans. I am worried our government do not seem to grasp this.

In other developed countries, public transport improve and gets better over the years. In Singapore, it has been deteriorating and getting worse over the past few years.

Frankly, I do not mind if fares for public transport are raised by twice or even thrice the current rate – that is if the services are worth the fare rises.

All I want is a comfortable and reliable commuting experience.

Is this too much to ask from our government?

If the current two white elephant public transport operators are unable to provide these, are there really no other alternatives?

With COE prices pushing record high (COE prices breach $90,000 mark at latest tender, 19 Apr 2012, Straits Times), the poor and the middle-income are priced out of the car market. The rich can afford to buy multiple cars to play around with, yet family with many kids or elderly who need a car the most are unable to afford.

The trains keep breaking down – 5 times in the last week (MRT breakdowns, like floods, are now part of Singapore life, 20 Apr 2012, Yahoo! News). In fact, it breaks down so much nobody seems to bother keeping track anymore.

Seriously, why bother? There is nothing we ordinary Singaporeans can do about it as there are only two public transport operators in Singapore monopolizing the market. As consumers, we cannot vote with our wallets, but are demand inelastic.

One option is to buy a car. Can you afford one? I can’t.

How about taking a bus?

The buses are always late, irregular or extremely overcrowded. Yet our two public transport operators, SBS and SMRT got away with a fine of just $100 and $300 each for their breaches on overcrowding regulations (SMRT and SBS fined over overcrowded buses, 21 Apr 2012, Straits Times). If I am the CEO of SMRT or SBS, I would just pay the fine. Why bother improving services if you can get away by just paying pocket changes?

How about taking a cab?

Try flagging for one between the “non-peak” hours of 9am to 6pm. Good luck to you.

I am thankful my workplace is just two bus services away from my home currently. I dread commuting in Singapore nowadays.

Yet what can I do?

I can only suffer in silence, for I still need to commute daily, just like I need to breath air.

Minister Lui Tuck Yew, dear sir, I like the strong statement from you seen on the cover of Lianhe Wanbao today:

Lianhe Wanbao cover, 21 Apr 2012
Lianhe Wanbao cover, 21 Apr 2012

Sir, as a humble minion who needs to commute by either SMRT or SBS daily, I sincerely hope you will be the beacon of light to lead us to the end of the tunnel for our transport woes.

Thank you.

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