Responding to a question on how the Government might try to mitigate any rise in fares, Lui said any fare increases will take effect later this year. Talk about tunnel vision, he can only conceive of price increases, not price reductions. And he would not touch the sacred cow of a flawed formula that has brought in millions to the state coffers, and finances his personal Swiss standard of living. According to his fellow MP Lim Wee Kiak, it's below his dignity to accept anything less.
The formula used for calculating fares, for some strange reason, factors in inflation besides average wages and productivity of the operators to arrive at the fare adjustment. Inflation, a.k.a. consumer price index, is computed using a basket of inputs, including cost of transportation. Think about it. Fares increase will nudge up inflation, which in turn, thanks to the formula, hike the fare further up. Control engineers will recognise this as the mutant negative feedback signal that, instead of modulating the dynamic behavior of the system to a desired level, spirals it out of control.
At fault is the official dictum that "fare rises keep pace with what people can afford". In plain English, what commuters can afford to be ripped off. They actually say it in print, "it ensures operators can earn enough to improving service". Highest paid SMRT CEO Saw Phaik Hwa, 55, was rewarded with $1.67 million in 2009, and her gem of a comment on the state of the transportation system was “We've yet to push people into the train”. Look like the push from 66.6% to 60.1% is not enough to change things for the better.
The Public Transport Council is responsible for using the formula to "regulate" fares. That's Gerard Ee, the same fellow reviewing the salaries of the Ministers to ensure that the end result is dignified for the beneficiaries.
|SMRT is the name, profit is the game|