Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Bus, Train Fare System Is So Unfair

Forum letter writer Gregory Lou lamented that while two out of three commuters will supposedly see cost savings in the new bus/ train fare system to be implemented from 3 July, one third of the commuters will be paying higher fares. Specifically those who prefer a direct route to their destinations, who want to be spared the inconvenience of getting on and off bus and trains, particularly in the foul weather of the monsoon periods. Lest we forget, the wheel chair bound is inconvenienced even in fine weather.The public had raised their objections when Second Minister of Transport Lim Hwee Hua Wah announced that as the Government takes over the planning of bus routes, it will not add any new cross country routes on the flaky logic that these tend to be delayed by traffic jams, ignoring the fact that shorter bus routes are just as susceptible. As usual, they listened, but paid no heed, confident that, with the gerrymandering system in place, they will never be voted out of office.

Gregory says it's not fair. The reality is that these scholar elites drafting policy don't have that word in their vocabulary. They have a lame idea, and they ram it through. Besides, it's consistent with the party philosophy: what the left hand gives, the right hand takes away. The 2.5 per cent overall fare reduction trumpeted by the press assumes that 63 percent will break their journey to save 48 cents a week, while the targetted 34 per cent who prefer longer single leg journeys will have to pay 31 cents more a week. That's just punishing the group that dare challenge the minister's decision, that's the familiar message of "do it my way, or the highway."

There's another gotcha. The fare bands will be narrowed. Bus fares are now divided into wide bands, each covering several fare stages of 800m each. From July, when commuters pay by distance traveled on each short leg, fares will increase more often. Journeys without transfer will cost even more. Overall fare reduction is just another myth.

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