I am trying to put myself into the shoe of the devil and to understand his logic and motivation as the master planner of our transport system.
Let me start with cars for motorists. Being the devil, he would want to make as much money from the motorists as possible. These can come from road tax, PARF, ARF, petrol tax, car parking and even motor insurance. But the two schemes for easy money must be COEs and ERPs. For COEs, make sure that the supply is always limited. And this must be the easiest thing to do and all the right justifications given the space constraint. The pumping in of more foreigners is a god sent backup that would ensure that the number of cars on the road would always be critical. Then play on the rich who are able to afford to pay more and more to have the roads for themselves. At the same time tell those who cannot afford to take public transport. At $50k per piece of paper, without production cost, negligible manpower and material cost, what a sure win formula.
As for ERPs, just keep shifting the gantry points. Another easy scheme to make money. Put up one and shift the jam to the next bottle neck. That would be good justification for a new ERP. And when the jam builds up at the peripheral roads, more good reasons to erect more ERPs. It is kind of a never ending opportunity to make more money by simply putting up money collecting points.
What about public transport system? Just make it look good but never allow it to undermine the price of COEs and people wanting to drive their own cars. What does it mean? Don’t make it too comfortable or cheap enough as a substitute. It must look like a substitute, but weighing all the costs and inconvenience, the motorists will still want to pay the $50k COEs and the multiple ERPs to get around.
Also, it will increase the profits if the buses or trains are packed like sardines. It will be maximization of every inch of available space, for the same number of drivers and trains or buses.
The public transport system and the availability or convenience of private transport must be carefully managed to give the best yield in terms of profits. The ability for both systems to lay the golden eggs must not be undermined.
The above scenario is only valid in the minds of the devil. Luckily we have a good govt constantly trying to improve public transportation and to minimize the cost for the good of the people. And a minister had to pay the price for the people’s unhappiness in public transport. Actually it is very unfair. Why remove a minister who have made our transport system world class? The same logic should apply to our world class healthcare system that made Boon Wan an icon.
We now have a new minister who even tried to feel how it is to travel in public transport, off peak and during peak hours. More improvements will be on the way.