4/06/2015

The Great Singapore Train and Bus Robbery


And it’s perfectly Legal!

Commuters today hardly notice that they have been “robbed”. Each bus and MRT train trip will merely add 2 - 5 cents depending on distance.  Overall, public transport fares increase by about 2.8% from today, in accordance with the Public Transport Council (PTC) decision made on January.   

It has been argued and evident by facts and statistics that the public transport fare hikes for 2015 have no compelling rationale and basis. The PTO did not produce any justifications as to current or impending profits reduction; they could not because they actually enjoyed windfall profits due to unprecedented oil price drop last year.   

About $48 million will be taken from commuters over the next 12 months to feed highly profitable public transport operators (PTO) in 2015 and part of 2016. Serious public trust issues are raised but never fully addressed.

The generosity of commuters in acquiescing to the fare hikes, though few in fact have any alternative transport choices, will deliver the whooping additional $48.5m in revenue to the two public transport operators - SBS Transit and SMRT.  Never mind that they will have to contribute $5.5 million and $8 million respectively to the Public Transport Fund (PTF), from which $7.5 million from the Fund would provide 250,000 vouchers of $30 each to low-income households (one-time?), which act merely to postpone but did not eliminating its impact on the lowest of the low-income earners. These vouchers basically returned their PTF contributions to the PTO to retain net-neutral revenue impact

For SBS Transit, this $5.5 million represents about 25 per cent of the additional fare revenue, while for SMRT, the $8 million they are setting aside accounts for about 30 per cent.

As predicted, commuters hardly feel the mosquito-bite pinch of the transport fare hikes today.  My son reminds me that it amounts to about $2-$4 per month for regular commuters, or nearly $25-$50 per year, for no assurance of improvements in the prevalent poor customer services.  The only clear purpose of the public transport fare hikes is profiteering by the PTO.  

Singaporeans must be protected from the unequal powers of monopolistic – in the case of public transport, duopolistic – companies in the marketplace.  Every economic student knows that monopolistic and duopolistic companies are the most inefficient with respect to resource use in their operations. They furthermore generate huge profits from the captive marketplace is such disproportion to the privilege of providing a needed social service.

Both PTO have announced dividends for their private share-holders from their windfall profits. Their shares are expected to out-perform the stock market.  Currently, the shares of both PTO are the darlings of the Singapore Stock Exchange, even before the fare hikes!

Public transport commuters, mostly for middle and lower income households, have few affordable transport alternatives.   Where is the social justice when private companies are allowed to derive huge windfall profits from operating with assets largely invested by the Government ie people of Singapore? 

Granted, when considered in the totality of its entire assets, which include the transport infrastructure invested by past generations of Singaporeans, no strictly private and profit-oriented company could be profitable under the normal circumstances.  So, why are the PTO  profit-driven instead of guardians of social investments and public assets?  Why are they allowed to skimmed from the commuters a few cents here and there even though they are already highly profitable? It is because they can do so with impunity, to “rob” commuters in broad daylight and night, and to get away with it because it is NOT a crime.  It is in fact criminal to simply take from the less and lower income, basically the weak and vulnerable people, in order to enrich oneself.  In this instance, and every day for the next 12 months, day or night, when you board a public bus or MRT train, you will be “legally” robbed.  

Public transports should be managed by more socially responsible National PTOs beyond the current obsessive profit-seeker types of companies. We need Public Transport Social Enterprises that have embedded social responsibility values into its leadership and management. 


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26 comments:

agongkia said...

S$37.50 ct per annum mean a lot to poor folk like me.
Public transport should be kept low as that is the only mode of transport for many to travel.
Increasing fare just to generate more profit is unethical ,chek ark and bo leong sim.
One of the many way to keep cost low is to retrench those redundant office chia leow bees and save on unnecessary cost .It can easily help to reduce fare, not to mention increase.
However I am not concern about increase for the working class .At least have some pity on poor like me.

Poor , less advantage or jobless local senior citizens should ideally granted a concession and only pay a token of 20 cent per trip if we cannot allow free travel.

Have to agree with the writer.

agongkia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...


Not here to debate whether public transport fare hikes for 2015 are compelling or rational or not.

The trouble is when you look at the individual price/fee/fare hikes on its own, they may look quite reasonable and very small.

However, in this tiny city state we have "here UP little bit, there UP little bit".

So, when you total up all the small increases/hikes, the increases/hikes can be quite a large amount.

This is what the people faced!

Anonymous said...


hello anonymous 9.33am......

very the sorry lah....what is.....

"chek ark"
"bo leong sim"
"chia leow bees"

cheers.....

Virgo49 said...

When other private companies form a cartel to their pricing, the government will step in with the Anti-Competition Act.

But for the MRT, HDB, MOH, and other government agencies, there is no Anti-Competition Act against them.

Charge what you want, if wrong figures, ooops honest mistakes, we redo the sums.

But for Ajunied TC, wah piang- criminal you know.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Why stop at only calling public transport a "monopoly"/ "duopoly"/ "cartel"?

Singapore is a PLUTOCRACY, with it's own Head Poo-Bah sitting atop the lucrative gravy train (pardon the pun).

The State's business is to create monopolies and cartels, and The State's Top Dog's job is to ensure that this happens effectively.

Here are a few more either "little choice" or "no choice" monopolies/ cartels specifically administered by The State:

1. CPF --- no choice, you have to pay, even if you have your own private retirement plan.

2. MediSave --- no choice, you have to pay even if you're paying high premiums in private insurance

3. The Courts --- no choice, you have to accept State justice. In the private sector there are independent tribunals and such for conflict resolution, and enforcement of standards. To practice law, you must qualify for "govt. issued license".

4. Legal tender --- no choice, you must use the local "official" currency for internal commerce, and financial dealings with the govt.

5. Highway robbery--- aka ERP. No choice, a rock solid, super lucrative monopoly.

6. Banks --- must be govt approved/ licensed. The result: a very lucrative cartel.

7. Public education, and standardised syllabi even for private institutions, to accord with govt standards of "accreditation". How's that working out for the 100's of thousands who are jobless or under-employed?

8. Govt. controlled and OWNED press and media. Got alternative views? Good luck to you!

9. Unions --- NTUC, govt awarded monopoly.

10. HDB -- total control. Can be used to affect your vote at elections. Since the govt. controls and essentially "owns" the HDB, they contribute to the scarcity of land in an already land-scarce territory. This awards a "free kick" to the wealthy PRIVATE LAND owners making owning private property in Singapore one of the best investments or "stores of wealth" for globe trotting billionaires and such.

...feel free to add...

patriot said...

'The generosity of commuters.......".
Do the Commuters have choice?

Profiteering is against the Law or at least not allowed. At it's most lenient, discourage. But, the Transport Minister(Crrently Lui Tuck You) had justified and sanctioned the Fare Hikes.
He of course represents the GOVERNMENT.

So, how do the People concile with the Fare Hikes versus the Anti-profiteering Stance of the Rulers?

I am scratching my head, however, I amNOT the least surprised by double talks of folks in the Cabinet. They are true pros at doublespeaks.

patriot

patriot said...

Btw, I do find that Sinkies are generous whence they are abroad. They do feel most things cheap whence spending outside Sin, the Reason why they pissed off the Locals whenever they exclaim this cheap that cheap when abroad.

Another trait Sinkies are fond of is swimming in boiling water. They enjoy it greatly. It has become an intrinsic part of Sinkies, maybe the Whole Lot are sadistic to varying extend.

patriot.

Anonymous said...

"But for the MRT, HDB, MOH, and other government agencies, there is no Anti-Competition Act against them."
April 06, 2015 10:20 am

Got.
Got anti-competition act against the.
It's called 'Vote Opposition" to reduce the cost of PAP fees.

Heil Hitler!
Fark Yew!

Anonymous said...

Agongkia, don't bluff and ask for sympathy lar. Knn u always boast fucking here and there some more free type means u have a lot of time on hand. Knn complaint about 5 cents here and there and just one condom u pay over $1 already. Some more complaining here. Knn u sarcastic or what?

Anonymous said...

Maybe agongkia is a gigolo.

That means he is a professional
Toy Boy or Playboy.

Maybe he's also an IB.

Who knows ?

patriot said...

All robberies are unlawful whether they are committed in broad daylight or in total darkness.
BUT, if they are legalised as said, then commuters are just unlucky to be held at ransom.

Anyway what can commuters do when their Rulers approved the Ripoff?

patriot

agongkia said...

anon 2.52pm
Hehe...5 cents oso money ok.40 trips of 5 cents is 2 dollar. Can go tote board and turn yourself into millionaire or do charity through them.
If 5 cent not money then why they need increase fare.Dun be khongcum and think its a small amount and as such allowing others to increase bit by bit and dun feel it.
Dun understand why still need to use that...
Learn to save.Those plastic bag use to tapao kopi can actually be re use if you know how.
Every drop of water can form an ocean.
I am concern about the poor like me .Who's complaining:-)

agongkia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
agongkia said...

anon 3.38pm
Ever heard of surrogate father?1st time hor?
Nong time ago heard there is such a thing call karn teeko...I am just like that teeko.... love to produce babies. Whats wrong with having more babies?

agongkia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
patriot said...

Few men have the Attributes to be professional lovers.

Agongkia must be tall and rosy liked Lee Kuan Yew, as described by Virgo 49.
A man for all Seasons.
Maybe Redbean should invite
Agongkia for tea one day to see his 庐山真面目, to see if Agongkia is 番安再世。

patriot

agongkia said...

Patriot
Thanks but I am just the opposite, ugly like a toad.
I just love to produce more babies. Whats wrong with having more concubines.

patriot said...

@Agongkia;

Why You did not ask Lee Kuan Yew whence he imemented the 'Stop at Two'?
Now that he is gone You ask Big Question.
Lolx.

patriot

agongkia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
patriot said...

My apology

'imemented' in my above comment to be corrected to
'implemented'.

patriot

agongkia said...

patriot.
Unclr.I was just a little toddler when they talk about stop at 2.
The only inconvenience caused to me is I have less local mei mei to choose from, resulting in me having to travel oversea to look for wife.
I thought the idea to stop at 2 is mooted by one Yong Nyuk Lin all the while. Maybe I am wrong .But thats history.I am more interested to have oversea mistress n babies now since bigamy is not allowed here.Thks for your interest.

agongkia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

You buggers don't talk cock here.
Geylang meimeis where got free one ?
Pimp may be got service free, ah pek snf uncle give themselves free, Geylang unties oso doe want lah. The Geylang meimei only like uncles pockets. Uncle wu lui boh? No money no fuck ok.

Anonymous said...

Why Yew never advocate Stop At Two Terms Of Prime Minister?

The last 20 years of Yew's Leedership is like a repetitive grandfather's story.
Non stop series of books.

patriot said...

THE ACTION OF THE PAP GOVERNMENT, IB PARTICULAR TO AWARD INCENTIVES TO THE DUOPOLY TRANSPORT OPERATORS NAMELY; SBS TRANSIT AND SMRT, IS BLATANTLY GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN OF REASONING.
THE GOVERNMENT IS TAKIBG THE PEOPLE FOR GRANTED KNOWING THAT MANY ARE AGAINST THE FARE HIKE EFFECTIVE ON THE 5TH OF APRIL 2015.

AS NOTED BY MICHAEL HENG PBM, THE TRANSPORT OPERATORS ARE DUOPOLIES MAKING PROFITS IN THE TENS OF MILLION SIN DOLLARS PER YEAR. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON FOR THE AFORE-MENTIONED FARE HIKE AND TO SPITE THE SINGAPOREANS, THE GOVERNMENT WENT FURTHER TO AWARD A MILLION MORE SIN DOLLARS TO THE TWO OPERATORS.

IT IS HIGH TIME FOR SINGAPORE TO RETALIATE FOR THE DISFAVOUR THE GOVERNMENT HAS SHOWN TO THE PEOPLE LIKED SHOWING US ITS MIDDLE FINGER, BY SACKING THE PAP COMPLETELY IN THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTION.

I SHALL DO ALA AMOS YEE ON SINGAPOREANS IF THE PEOPLE FAILED THE MISSION.

patriot