Monday, August 16, 2010

Four Legs Good, Or Two Legs Better?

It was with great fanfare earlier that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced the switch to distance-based fares from 3 July 2010. LTA had claimed that "It corrects an inequity in the previous system - where those who make transfers ended up paying more for their journeys than those who make direct journeys for the same distance traveled on the same mode." Distance Fares, LTA tells us, is a fairer system as commuters pay the same fare for the same distance travelled on the same mode of travel, regardless of whether they make transfers.

Then someone pointed out that LTA's computations of the distances were wrong in several instances. Commuters soon discovered that they had been paying extra - for between 0.1km and 2.4km more than their actual distance travelled. LTA quickly covered up by saying the errors were due to "changes on the ground" such as road diversions. Are we daft enough to believe contractors can dig up public roads without informing LTA?

When more discrepancies were brought up, they ran out of credible excuses, and invented the line that "travelling time - and not just distance - is also used to charge train commuters under Singapore's distance-based fares system." Apparently this takes into account walking and waiting time. Nope, they did not specify if walking was assumed at tongkat speed or Olympian speed [insert shameless plug for YOG here] .

Any motorist with a decent GPS system knows he has a choice of route selection based on shortest distance or shortest travel time. The former may end up with wasted time at traffic lights, and the latter favours expressways which usually result in longer road journeys. The driver has the discretion to over-ride the onboard computer in light of real-time traffic conditions. Public transportation is less flexible.

Train tracks and bus routes are predetermined by the experts at LTA. As are train and bus schedules. If there was a mix-and match-opportunity with the previous transfer system, the new distance-based method, which discourages transfers, effectively puts an end to the discussion. It was either four legs good, or four legs bad. Or is it two legs better now?

The bottomline is the Public Transport Council promise that the majority, or 63% of commuters will see average fare savings of $0.48 a week (or $25 a year), based on data LTA supplied from purportedly actual weekly travel profiles of commuters. And when commuters end up paying more for public transportation than they did before (some computed fare increases from the new Distance Fare system range from 3.75% to more than 7%), they know that another dose of the Orwellian doublespeak in Animal Farm is being unleashed on the public.

Just listen to the yarn that Minister for Transport Raymond Lim spun in parliament on Monday about both SBS Transit and SMRT expecting to lose $32 million this year alone, relative to how much they would have earned without distance-based fares. How can they dare to lose money if SMRT revenues grew 9 percent to $235 million from last year, and SBS Transit grew 6.5 percent to $179.83 million? If the distance-based fares will cost public transport operators $88 million a year in revenue as he claims, why did Lim go ahead with the exercise? Is he getting tired of the millions clogging up the bank account? Is he authorised to dump money like Temasek? In time, we'll know the truth whenthe directors' fees and bonuses are totalled up at the end of the year.


  1. The whole exercise is a fare-hike in disguise.

  2. Last time they say those who make transfers pay more, now it's the 27% who pay more. Whatever the formula, they end up making more money from the people.

  3. 1 out of 3 pays more and 2 out of 3 pay less than before with the new fare system.

    Is it true ?

  4. The logic failed me here. How did the PTC previously justified that those who made transfers should pay more? The crux is why was this 'unfairness' sanctioned/approved by PTC? And why is it now deemed necessary to be corrected to the extent of the service providers claiming they would forgo huge profits to implement the changes? What happened to the govt FAVOURITE saw that 'no one owes you a living'.

    Indeed, truth is stranger than fiction. But, I think they should tell it to the marines!!!

    The Transport Ministry, LTA, SMRT/SBS and in particular the PTC ARE ALL A BAG OF BALLS!

  5. In what sense were those who made transfers 'subsidizing' those who don't? We are to believe that this is true? If the extra paid by those who transfer is unjustified why did the LTA/PTC allowed such practice? Don't forget the extra/excess collected went into the coffers of the train service providers. They are the people who owe the 'transfers' by 'overcharging'. So why should one-third of commuters be now made to shoulder higher charges? Why should we believe any one of them now?

  6. It's a SHAM.

    Shameful meanisters hoodwink all.

  7. PTC, SMRT, LTA all are part of the familee lah. Just playing musical chair, each round ends with sucking more money from the public and never a fare drop. Welcome to S'pore under the PAP.

  8. Do you know what are the really interesting things about distance based fare is that it actually works in many countries, but of course those countries actually got the guts to ratify their convulating bus route, a more dependable feeder services. But as Uniquely Singapore, we got idiots like Rayray doing a half ass job and labeled Singaporean as complaint king & ungrateful lots, and we should continue to grovel at their lumpar like servile subjects.

  9. MP for Jalan Besar Dr Lily Neo was right to question him why should one in three seniors have to pay more, "Is the Minister aware of the frustration and anger of many on the ground?"
    Probably not, he just pretends to be deaf like Lim Swee Say.

  10. It first began with the argument that our Ministers must be paid well enough so as not to squander our reserves away.

    Then :

    COE is to help manage the car population
    ERP to help manage the jams
    GST increase is to help the poor
    CPF life is to help those who live longer
    Casino levy is to help those hardcore gamblers control their gambling habits
    etc, etc.

    What they have conveniently forgotten to tell us is that all these measures are in place actually to help themselves become the final beneficiaries.

    Do you agree ? Are they not being shrewd and cunning just like Shylock?

  11. The system sucks from the time they monopolised the public transport system.
    Now these people who never take the public transport system are trying to fool those who depends on it in their everyday life.
    Now are paid sky high salary to tell despicable lies.