Khaw Boon Wan draws immense flak for suggesting that linking public transport fares to reliability could worsen situation

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Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan’s remarks in Parliament yesterday that linking public transport fares to reliability could worsen situation drew immense flak from netizens who felt that his suggestion is “rubbish”.

The Minister was responding to parliamentary questions on whether the new public transport fare formula, which is slated to go into effect at the end of this year, will capture rail reliability and service standards.

Khaw revealed that the new fare formula does not factor in reliability and service standards but claimed that he will personally deal with operators and apply “the sort of focus and pressure I exert on the operators” to ensure rail reliability is maintained:

“Even though it’s not in the fare formula, I deal with it directly myself through the sort of focus and pressure I exert on the operators to make sure the rail reliability is brought about because that is my priority. And I’ll see to it that it happens, whether or not it’s included in the fare formula.”

Insisting that public transport fares and reliability are two separate matters, Khaw suggested that including a reliability component to the fare formula in a bid to penalise operators not performing up to standard could worsen the situation:

“When a system is very unreliable, in fact that is the time to pump in more resources … and if you punish them through reduced fares, you are withdrawing resources from the operators and you’ll be doing exactly the opposite. The wrong thing. Rail reliability is important but deal with it separately.”

Khaw added that it is impossible to improve the public transport system without pumping in  more resources that will go towards recruiting manpower needs. He appealed:

“All those things come with money and I really hope Singaporeans understand that I want to do my job well so that we can have a first-class transport system and we will get there. 
“But I do need money because it is not realistic to hope that you get a first-class, reliable train with no need of any injection of resources.”

Besides, Khaw said, the Network Capacity Factor (NCF) – a new inclusion in the fare formula – will indirectly address service standards. The NCF assigns a positive or negative rating depending on whether the rail network can cope with the commuter crowd. If the network is not expanded and demand grows, the NCF will be negative. The NCF can be positive if rides are more comfortable even if costs rise. Khaw said:

“Service levels may not be picked up directly through the fare formula but the sentiments will be picked up by me very quickly, because engineer Lee Bee Wah will make sure that I fully understood what is happening on the ground. And I’m very attentive, of course not just to Yishun but the whole Singapore.”

Netizens responding to Khaw’s speech derided his comments, opining that commuters should not be penalised for poor service:

Khaw Boon Wan contradicts PM Lee’s claims that Singapore has a “first-class transport system”

76 COMMENTS

  1. “When a system is very unreliable, in fact that is the time to pump in more resources … and if you punish them through reduced fares, you are withdrawing resources from the operators and you’ll be doing exactly the opposite. The wrong thing. Rail reliability is important but deal with it separately.”

    This is the concept of paying high bills to stem out corruption.

    If this is the concept.. Then even college students can run big Corp.

  2. 1. I rather trust an agreed upon fare formula than a man to deal with reliability.

    2. Worsen whose situation ? Operator’s profit or passenger satisfaction / safety ? Why should i continue to pay more n pray hard hard that you will improve when even the minister takes group pic with SMRT often which gives an impression of collusion ?

  3. i always learn new things from our “garmen” that I “can apply” in my work life eg – Never say sorry even if you are wrong, strongly deny even if oneself is wrong, blame someone or something else.. answer Z when ask A… these are “important life lessons” from our “esteemed well-respected garmen”…

  4. hahahahaha… i would suggest KBW, his minister of states and his Perm Secs commute to work using the SMRT EVERYDAY!!! This includes the new SMRT CEO and his group CEO. maybe.. just maybe reliability and services can improve marginally.. Or are they too afraid to use their own services?? or too afraid to do what they preach??

  5. Now getting complacent and the most important component are not tied. Who is he that is responsive as he may move out from transport portfolio by then he will say it is nothing to do with me…also he has already helmed the ministry for so long but the reliability of the train services still in doubt…

  6. I quote from his statements “When a system is very unreliable, in fact that is the time to pump in more resources … and if you punish them through reduced fares, you are withdrawing resources from the operators and you’ll be doing exactly the opposite….. unquote

    Finally something that I can agree upon with … indeed service reliability may not necessary be the cost of higher fares ….. on a contrary , reliability of a public transportation service SHOULD be of 101% working efficiency be it fares are as cheap as cents to dollars ?
    If you cannot keep your service trains to that standard , then what more to talk about drawing more funds ? Are you saying profits collated from the previous fare rate ain’t enough to cater for better trains that you need to import from China ?
    It is so wrong to say that fares and service reliability don’t link because as what KNW has mentioned , cutting down on fares will mean lesser resource for the team ….Resource which is mentioned at this point of time isn’t money ? So if “resource” isn’t here to boot the working efficiency of the over train system ? What are you implying here then ?…… pockets of your fellow CEO , directors , managers ? Or is it time for a pay increase for smrt staffs ?

    The only way to convince us your allegations , perhaps it is time for you to disclose the over cost running , cost spent in full to the public at the same time let third party audit to be screened before disclosure .

  7. Boss : This is your bonus for your last year performance. Are you satisfied with it?
    Mcgyver : I not satisfied. How can my bonus this year is lesser compare to previous year?
    Boss : That was because you have made one mistake last year causing company nearly lost a business deal.
    Mcgyver : Boss, if you are linking my bonus with the mistake i made last year, you could worsen the situation by demoralise me to work harder for the company.