SINGAPORE: Former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Yee Jenn Jong asked questions about a new initiative at Marine Parade cluster, the free shuttle bus service for residents starting next Monday (July 8).

The initiative talked about in videos posted online by Marine Parade GRC MPs Tan See Leng, Edwin Tong, and Seah Kian Peng, as well as MacPherson SMC MP Tin Pei Ling, is said to be a response to feedback from residents and is aimed at helping them get to venues such as polyclinics and grocery stores easier, especially perhaps for senior citizens.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday (July 2), Mr Yee, who belongs to the opposition Workers’ Party, called the initiative “interesting” but wondered what it would mean for Singapore’s public transport and transport funding policies.

“Singaporeans have often been told there is NO free lunch. Someone pays. Who is paying for the services? PA and CDC? Or the MPs (whose images are on the buses),” he asked.

See also  Pritam Singh Advocates for Strong Opposition in Parliament

Furthermore, Mr Yee addressed the issue of gaps in connectivity, which has been mentioned as the rationale for the initiative. If there are such gaps, he asked if solutions should not come under the funding for public transport.

The same need to bridge connectivity gaps exists in other areas in Singapore, as the ex-NCMP pointed out, asking whether a similar push would also be made at Limbang, Ang Mo Kio, or other neighbourhoods.

Mr Yee also asked that if the initiative is indeed under the purview of the People’s Association (PA) and the Community Development Council (CDC), “are they in the best position to sustain the operations, even if they had tendered out to a private bus company to run”?

He pointed out that “There is no economics of scale compared to that of public transport companies,” with drivers who sometimes get sick and buses needing maintenance.

“Why restrict to only Marine Parade residents for free usage, if indeed it is paid from the national funds? Do the PA and CDC need more manpower for their own internal operations for this?

See also  WP's Sylvia Lim video goes viral but Shanmugam calls opposition videos "slick PR"

Good as the intent may be, is it sustainable?”

Mr Yee also wrote that a similar pilot to improve connectivity had been launched in 2016 in Tampines, although that was a private initiative, and people who used the service were charged a S$1 fare for trips between HDB neighbourhoods and the Tampines Round Market.

However, he added that this did not last long.

“Awareness and keeping a localised operations sustainable remain as challenges,” wrote Mr Yee. /TISG

Read also: Free shuttle bus service for Marine Parade cluster residents starts in July