The alternative news in 1 day? (part 20) – Give buses and to be rewarded via bus trial?

Bus trial fines or incentives?

Further to my article “The alternative news in 1 day? (part 18) – Fine transport operators” (Jan 7), I understand from Terry Xu, Executive Editor of theonlinecitizen, some of the bus services selected for the trial are under the Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP).

The programme refers to the 550 buses funded by the Government and another 250 added by the Public Transport Operators (PTOs), to increase the bus fleet by about 20%.

The first 15 bus services out of the 22 announced for the trial are: 3, 17, 39, 52, 176, 184, 188, 228, 241, 242, 302, 325, 858, 901 and 911.

Out of the 15, 10 of these bus services; 3, 39, 52, 176, 188, 228, 302, 325, 858 and 901 are existing bus services that are under the BSEP (Sep 2012 – Dec 2013).

Why is it that such a high percentage – 67 per cent (10 divided by 15) are BSEP services? Or 45 per cent based on 22 bus services which is the total number of bus services in the trial. (We are still unsure if the remaining 7 bus services are part of the BSEP till they are announced later.)

Easier to get incentive?

Given that the Government is funding more buses for these services – does it mean that it may be easier to get the “earlier” than schedule incentive with the increased number of buses and being less likely to be fined for being late?

Public should be told of the process of selection?

How were these 15 bus services selected?

What process, criteria or rationale went into the selection?

Can all these be made public information? After all, it is taxpayers’ money.

The commuting public’s interest?

So, first we use taxpayers’ money, S$1.1 billion to help the operators to get more buses for their bus services. Then, we will under the subject trial scheme – reward them (with taxpayers’ money) or fine them (fines passed on to commuters) – and we are also expecting the transport operators’ applications to increase fares to be approved?

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Where on earth – is the commuters’ interest in all this?

LTA to charge rail operators more?

Oh – and I just read in the newspaper today “Rail operators to pay higher fees” (Straits Times, Jan 8) – “Rail operators in Singapore will pay as much as 2.5 times more in annual fees to the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

In all, the regulator will collect $7.53 million or $1.75 million more from April, when the increases take effect, said a government gazette.

The sum, however, excludes the fee of the new Downtown Line 1, which opened last month.

Must pay more to get better regulation?

Explaining the hikes, an LTA spokesman said yesterday: “The main reason is we have stepped up our regulatory oversight and put in place more stringent monitoring of performance standards.” This was necessary “to bring about a better travel experience for commuters”, she added.

The move follows recommendations from a high-level Committee of Inquiry that called on the LTA to improve its oversight of rail maintenance, after two major breakdowns in 2011″

- So, many things connected with public transport will increase – to the detriment of commuters, or to benefit us as the media reports are trying to portray?

Increased fee will not be passed on to commuters?

As to “The fee rises are unlikely to be passed on directly to commuters.

Said Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport chairman Cedric Foo: “In the scheme of things, the fees make up a very small proportion of operators’ revenue.” He added that any cost increase “does not automatically lead to higher fares” because the Public Transport Council’s fare formula limits how much fares can be adjusted each year. The formula calculates this cap based on such components as inflation and national wage increases.

SMRT Corp which bears the brunt of the fee rises said: “These regulatory costs are part of the higher costs that public transport operators have to bear.””

- Do you believe and accept all the above explanations that the increase will not be passed on to commuters?

With the billions that we collect every year from COE, ERP, vehicle taxes, fines, etc – and we still want to charge rail operators more in order to better regulate them?

Rewarding “poor” regulators?

The fact that there were so many breakdowns and other problems, may indicate that the regulators were not doing a good job in the first place. So, instead of “fining” them (the regulators) – we may end up having to pay them more in order to do a better job which they may have arguably, failed to do in the first place and giving the PTOs a free rein over the monopoly they have on the industry?

Uniquely Singapore!

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