Academic explains science behind Mediacock's meme about betting on MRT breakdowns


The MRT system was hit by 2 disruptions within 12 hours which affected many commuters in the North-South Line. Commuters made fun that the only electronic machinery running during the power trip in the MRT stations were the fare gantries.
mrt breakdown fare gantriesA Facebook troll page Mediacock responded to the MRT disruptions suggesting that commuters should bet on when the MRT would breakdown.

Prominent academic Donald Low shared the troll pages meme in his Facebook and suggested that a betting system will be useful for the public transport operators.

Mr Low said:

“This is actually a very good idea. It allows the commuting public to hedge against the risks of train disruptions. Meanwhile, if the regulator makes the train operator pay, it’s an incentive-compatible way of getting the operator to reduce disruptions. With the current system of fines, the government never knows if these are set at the right level. With a market such as this to price the cost of a breakdown to the commuting public, this information problem disappears. The more the public is concerned about a breakdown, the more “insurance” it will buy, and the more costly it is to the operator when a breakdown does occur.

The second benefit of such a market is public education. Because of our saliency bias, we are prone to think that MRT disruptions are more frequent than they actually are. We remember the infrequent major breakdowns and ignore the vast majority of days when there are no major incidents. This causes us to overestimate the likelihood of train disruptions. Currently, there is no way for the government or the operators to correct people’s misperceptions. Creating a market that allows people to bet on train disruptions is a very good way of correcting people’s errors. People who overestimate the likelihood of disruptions will find out very quickly that they are not making money; they will then be forced to adjust their beliefs.”

Mediacock responded to the academic and said, “First time our memes are being explained until so professional siah.. Got study one is different.”