I don’t know why public transport companies bother giving excuses for fare hikes. The only argument they need is “because you can’t walk there.” And if they say anything else, we’re all going to insist it’s a weak excuse for their greed anyway. They can’t win. Not without a truly unheard of approach, like actually giving the customers what we want:
1. More Frequent Bus Services
What is the point of giving out concessions when the freaking bus never comes? Don’t tell me this hasn’t happened to you before:
You go to the bus stop in a rush to get to work (or school) and you’re 30 minutes early. But due to heavy rain, heavy traffic, heavy drinking, etc. the driver’s handling his vehicle less like a bus, and more like a badly overloaded oil tanker.
Low speed + low number of buses = waiting times long enough to frustrate a clam
So you get desperate, hail a cab, and pay whatever surcharges they invented that week. It’s either that or be late to work / school. So much for saving money – your “concession” was about as helpful as a subsidised cabin on the Titanic.
It’s always easy to take a moral high ground, and claim people want concessions. People always want concessions. But next time, the survey should ask questions like: would you pay 10 cents more to ensure the bus is more frequent? I’m pretty sure that will get just as much support.
2. Trains Less Prone to Break Downs
Ever since 2012, the MRT has been notably prone to breakdowns. And yes, I understand there’s a new CEO to make a difference, that the trains are getting old, etc. I also get Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew’s claim that a system servicing two million passengers a day is going to break down.
Given that those arguments are true, we should be spending the bulk of the money on upgrading the system, not on concessions.
The other argument for more trains can be found on YouTube. Remember the ah lian and auntie showdown? The trains are so crowded, the reserve seats are more disputed than China’s airspace. Most of us will be forced to stand, and our faces are inch deep in each other’s bosoms and armpits by the time we reach City Hall.
Then there’s the number of trains we miss while going to work, because they’re all packed – two million a day, remember? That results in a fair number of give-up-and-take-a-taxi situations.
3. More Feeder Services / Transport System Synergy
What we could use are more feeder buses that just make runs to MRT stations, or maybe even more LRTs for those hard-to-reach places.
Authorities like to brag about how interconnected our transport system is. I’m sure they’ve surveyed much of it, probably from the inside of a chauffeured car. But unless you’ve waited 15 minutes for the bus, and then spent 15 minutes waiting for an available train, you won’t understanding how slow and frustrating the system really is.
Transport companies seem to worry about nice buses and trains, and about concessions.
But who’s really complaining that 10 or 20 cents more is too much, or that every bus isn’t a work of art? Listen to every transport complaint you’ll hear, and you’ll see they’re about availability and reliability.
The point of public transport is to get is where we need to go. If the system can do it fast, with minimal degree of fuss, that’s good enough. So let’s focus the spending on acquiring more vehicles, making sure they work and ensuring we can get to places on time.
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