Thursday, April 29, 2010

When size and distance do NOT matter for a Little Red Dot

This new transport fare system is giving commuters confusing 'joy-rides' and headaches. I have been following it closely for quite a while. No matter how you permute it, the commuters are just gonna 'get the shaft' (or get treated the wrong way). Whether you take the train or the bus, you are NOT going to get a better ride with less crowd and traffic congestions.

I was rather bemused by the way how the local newspapers 'hurray-ed' the transport fare reduction. Felt like some euphoric and orgasmic news: Public transport fares to go down by 2.5%! (Full report here). I don't want to go into analysing the statistics and details. But many doubt if it is really possible to have 2.5% reduction. Google a bit and you will find many websites and blogs challenging it.

My grouse then? Distance-based fare system. As mentioned in the same TodayOnline article:

That is when commuters will be able to take advantage of a new distance-based fare system where transfer penalties are removed, announced the Public Transport Council (PTC) yesterday.

This means fares will be calculated based on the distance travelled, regardless of whether a commuter decides to make a direct trip or multiple transfers between buses, or between buses and trains.

"Depending on the decision, you can save money or you can end up paying a bit more, but for the benefit of faster travelling time," said PTC chairman Gerard Ee.(bold mine)

Seriously, sir, how big is Singapore that is befitting of a distance-based fare system? Singapore's land area is ~700 km2 and the main island is about 42km in length and 23 km in breadth. The coastline is a mere 193km. I have travelled from Melbourne to Sydney 800+km one way and then back. That probably constitutes going around in circles 8 times around Singapore altogether.

My point? Perhaps Singapore is too small to have a distance-based fare system. I can understand countries like Australia and Japan. But hey, Singapore? And the fare calculations are really, really fishy. Whatever happened to the word 'public service'? I also doubt the 'benefit of a faster travelling time' promise.

Let me spell it to you in simple terms - the commuters only want to have a CHEAPER, BETTER and FASTER transportation (as coined by a certain 'deaf frog').

Don't talk so much smack. Can you do that?

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