Singaporeans have taken to Facebook to express their distress over a recent notice published by the Land Transport Authority concerning the reason behind its withdrawal of certain bus services. Many have called for public transport to discontinue being privatised.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Wednesday (August 4) published a notice on its Facebook page, addressing the public concern over its withdrawal of Bus Service 700/700A as well as the changes of the routes of Bus Services 171 and 972. “This has been a difficult decision for us as we are facing a tough dilemma to balance both the availability of bus services vis-à-vis the justification of public monies for which we are entrusted with,” the LTA wrote.
We are aware that there is some public concern arising from the withdrawal of Bus Service 700/700A and the route changes…
The LTA explained that when the Downtown Line (DTL) Phase 2 opened in December of 2015, the ridership of bus services that travel parallel to the MRT line fell. While Bus Service 171 dropped by more than 30%, Bus Service 700 dropped by more than 50%.
In response to this, the LTA said, “(W)e have been subsidising the services through public funds. For Service 700, it comes up to $5 million of subsidy a year. If this is the only transport option in the area, we can justify the public spending. But given that DTL is available as an alternative, we need to exercise prudence in the use of public funds, and hence have to make some adjustments to the services in the area.”
The LTA also said that since 2016, it has been undergoing consultations with grassroots advisers in order to come up with solutions that match the needs of residents. Bus Service 973, which was launched in February of 2017, was cited as a result of such consultations.
“We understand that the changes have led to longer travel times for some residents,” the LTA wrote. “But we need to balance the needs of different groups of commuters, while taking into account the availability of alternative travel options, and the burden on taxpayers.”
The LTA assured Singaporeans that it would continue working with grassroots advisers as well as hearing out the concerns of residents “to explore mitigating measures.”
“We also seek Singaporeans’ understanding that while we do our best, it will not always be possible to provide direct bus connections.”
However, after the LTA’s post was shared on the Facebook page, Wake Up, Singapore, with the caption, “It’s called public transport for a reason,” other Facebook users followed suit and called for Singapore’s public transportation to discontinue being privatised.
While some took it as a prioritisation of profit over the needs of the people, others called for public transport to be nationalised, arguing that the money of taxpayers is involved.