Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Operators Formulating Fare Hikes

Well managed corporations usually address tough market conditions by implementing cost cutting measures such travel freeze, reducing new hires, trimming executive perks, etc, depending on the severity of the situation. Not so SBS Transit and and SMRT Corp - they simply ask the accommodating Gerard Ee (same fella tasked to "review" ministerial salaries) at the Public Transport Council to rubber stamp another hike in bus and train fares. EVP for trains Khoo Hean Seng is going for broke, "With uncontrollable cost increases due to rising fuel costs and manpower costs, we have applied for the maximum fare adjustment of 2.8 percent." It's uncontrollable by the commuters that's for sure, when the greedy buggers pay their CEO obscene salaries and tell you to take the next train if you don't like it.

SBS Transit even went on to enlighten us that they faced cost pressures "despite its efforts to raise productivity." Can management's abject failure to improve productivity, a nation wide goal, be justification to penalise the consumer? That Saw Phaik Hwa must have the easiest job in the world.

The albatross on every commuter's neck is the opaque formula that inputs inflation rate to adjust transportation fare, latter an item in the CPI basket of indices which defines inflation. Go figure. Maybe some kind whistle blower will leak us the formula, and we get to see if it's as flawed as the one used for calculating ministerial salaries.

Recently Brendan Wauters, president & CEO of Senoko Energy, said the new gas turbines which replace 3 decades-old oil-fired units at Woodlands are 2 per cent more efficient, and "reduces the fuel cost and allows to provide more competitively priced electricity for end users." Unfortunately, another opaque formula used by the EMA seems to index prices to current cost of oil, and Wauters' accomplishment will unlikely translate into lower energy cost for lesser mortals. Has someone forgotten about the 325 MMcfd of Natuna gas bought from Indonesia's Pertamina under a 22-year purchase agreement? Those long term contracts were supposed to hedge against the roller coaster ride of oil price fluctuations. Singapore's first deal to buy gas from Indonesia's West Natuna fields was signed in January 1999, worth some $8 billion for Indonesia. Surely that should have provided some relief to the relentless tariff hike.

An ex-PSA staffer told of how an international dredging company once ripped off the statutory board when they charged for the extensive reclamation work contracted. In that formula, which was not carefully vetted by the civil servants, the rate paid by PSA was indexed to the price of coal in Holland. Problem is, the fleet of dredgers run on oil, operating in Singapore waters. And we thought the best brains were in charge.

One thing's for sure, with the present Minister of Transportation installed, aptly name Tuck Yew!, Singaporeans can look forward to be over charged again.


  1. Their reasons for justifying fare increases are ZERO!

    1) With the increase of 2m foreigners, the ridership has gone up significantly across the board. Not forgetting the newly opened circle lines. So, SMRT /SBS must be making profit

    2) FY2010 profit is $168mil. Really, which transportation company in the world has an IPO, is a listed entity with the aim to make profits from its citizens? Yes, only UNIQUELY in Singapore.

    3) The CEO was paid $1.8m last year for her salary. This is running a public service, not brain surgery or rocket science. Why does she deserve so much ? Becoz SMRT GLC forms part of Temasek "portfolio" to maximise earnings/profits so that the CEO & PAP Cabinet Leaders are awarded for their "bonuses" as part of their "stock options" plans.

    4) SG's ranking in 2011 #18 on the journey experience. Look at the crammed-sardine in MRT and buses. Despite these crappy experience on the ground, they have the audacity to ask you to pay for more?? What kind of justification is this?!!!!

    Ms Saw has the easiest con job in the entire civil service(GLC) in the whole wide world I can tell you that!!

  2. Maybe Lim Swee Say should tell our monopoly SMRT chiefs to offer a "gaga"experience on commuters' traveling before they raise their fares. The only after taste we have now is just like the funpack saga..bitter and unamused. I'll raise the red/white flag this NDP if only they raise their white flat first.

  3. As one Minister says "Dont throw rocks and stones" at us and give us ideas to reduce the operating cost - cut CEO pay, reduce bonus, etc.

  4. i can now appreciate Tuck Yew's black faces while travelling on public transport recently..sigh

  5. PTC is bloody run by Gerald Ee on the board as well. Just a month before election his team claimed that our SBS/SMRT are all running on tracks, yada yada. But the truth is otherwise, and have since been tested by MP Lim & Tuck Yew. So are you going to trust this bunch of cronies who will rubber stamp the increase surely. When the govt gives you lemon, they will squeeze every drop out of it before you have time to make any lemonade to quench your thirst!!

  6. GE 2016 is a long time away.

    Date of GE is a part of the formula for calculating fare increases.

    Pity poor Gerard Ee. He finally got his wish to get out of AAS. Out of frying pan into the fire.

  7. If Khaw Boon Wan's move from the Health Ministry to MND make some Singaporeans happy and think highly of him(Khaw). Tuck Yew will bring equal consolation to some Singaporeans as well, old brooms sweeping new places are better, seem to be a unique Singaporean trait.
    As for Gerard Ee, he had been so impressive with his track records, he even got a say with our rulers' remunerations. Can anyone imagine an eunuch shall decide what the emperor and his palace members should be remunerated.

  8. I say, nationalized the SBS & SMRT ! What competition ? It is always a joke to suggest that competition will benefit the consumers . Well not in Unique Singapore anyway. All rules of Economics Do Not apply in SIN. Eg: buy high , sell low, make more profit with 'competition'.

  9. I think they not only thought that singaporeans are DAFT, but also has short term memory.......


  10. Notice the revenue collected from the letting out of commercial space in the MRT stations (built with taxpayers' monies) now become the income of SMRT. And this income has never offsetted or lowered the SMRT fares since time imemorial. Instead it ended up as the part of the profitability of SMRT.

    See how public money is used to shore up the profit of such companies. Just wonder who are the real beneficiaries of such privatisation. And if we indeed have professional journalists who have enough integrity, maybe we can also dig out a mystery as big as the News of the World scandal, who knows ?

  11. There are already 2 disruptions on the NS line this week during the morning peak hours. Can somebody explain this service lapse and will heads roll? And why does the Shit Times not highlight such screw ups? Saw Phaik Hwa needs to be replaced asap.

  12. The cycle repeats. After every election, PAP makes you pay more for everything but the 60% were very happy when paid growth bonus with their own money. They have till 2016 to repent.

  13. All the people living in Sin must repent lah,
    top to bottom and bottom to top as many seem to Sin along one another.

  14. do the smart thing people..go buy some shares/stocks of SMRT and you'll get least get back some dividends to offset what you pay out on the other pocket lah..

  15. Great thoughts you got there, believe I may possibly try just some of it throughout my daily life.

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