Ten reasons why the transport fare hike commencing today is anti-Singaporean and greedy:-
1. Transport companies still profitable – the two transport companies SMRT and SBS Transit are still profitable. For example, SMRT third quarter net profit surges 58.4% as group revenue increased by 6.8% to $312 million. Operating profit from train operations increase to $3.2 million from $0.4 million a year ago.
In fact, SMRTprofits average $160 million for the preceding 3 years.
As public transport ought not to focus on generating profit, the yearly fare hike is a worry that our transport companies have gone greedy corporately and forget about its social mission on providing a efficient reasonably-priced transport system.
2. Train break down – train break down is a common phenomenon now and is no longer breaking news.
People are fed up when they need to pay more for inefficiency. It also creates stress and too much train break down will cause the public to distrust the transport system altogether. Where’s the rationale then to increase fare now when there is monthly even weekly train break down these days?
3. SMRT CEO pay – Desmond Kuek, the CEO of SMRT received close to $305,000 just for 6 months on the job when he started out in 2012 and a performance bonus of $274,000. He also receives $32,000 as benefits. This works out to a renumeration of $611,000 for just 6 months of work, a sum which many takes a decade or more to earn.
He is also given 156,000 shares and based on the average SMRT share price of 1.59 in 2013, he will gain another $445,000.
High-salaried ex-general CEOs is a worrying phenomenon as not only do they lack experience in running a corporate giant but they may stay on a job just for the salary.
Civil servants are highly paid now and it may cause them to just do their jobs well enough without the need to take risk to solve certain corporate organisational hiccup for fear that they may screw up.
4. Congestion – Singaporeans are also pissed they have to rush to and fro work daily in congested train, stressing them out immensely.
No one feels like going to work if they need to wait for the third or fourth train every day and smell one another’s hair in the cabin.
Moreover, many women commuters were violated in peak hour congestion but few ever launch a complaint for fear of embarrassment.
And now they have to pay more fare for all the mess!?
5. No other alternative – as there is no other alternative transport option, many Singaporeans have no choice but to bear the brunt of yearly fare hike and feel helpless about the whole situation.
The government has monolise the whole system here and the people are now looking at viable alternatives for change.
6. Public transport council – one often wonders what is the use of having a transport council which only knows how to recommend transport fare hike?
Do they know that the people now is struggling with the daily high cost of living?
Are the committee linked to the government, do they ever take public transport to work daily or merely cruise around in their private cars in comfort alone?
7. Decline of fuel prices – interestingly, fuel cost has decreased by more than 40% over the past years but our transport cost still has to go up.
The government has previously cite fuel cost increase to justify fare hike in 2011 but remained silent when fuel price went down last year.
8. Ridership increase – train ridership has gone up by an average of 33 million per month to 53 million due to the population white paper and it is a wonder why the transport companies could not benefit from the economies of scale here.
Many new incoming foreign workers use the train to work and this can only improve the corporate profits of our transport companies but the odd thing is we still need to pay more each year.
Where’s the justification?
9. Temasek Holdings – the government sovereign fund owns 54% or 824 million shares of SMRT and this is proving to be a cash cow for the PAP.
Its total dividends since listing amounted to $568 million in 2011 and its initial investment has been more than recouped.
It is strange that the government seems to have benefitted from the fare hike in such a unusual manner and once again shows to the people that making money rises above the interest of the people.
10. Income not solely on fares – non-fare income has also risen significantly and prime properties belonging to SMRT have been reaping increasing returns.
One also wonders why they did not use profits from non-fare to ensure that the yearly fare hike is not being implemented.
Corporate greed seems to permeate the whole transport system and Singaporeans are the ultimate losers in this monopolistic power game whereby there is no alternative way out.