Monday, August 3, 2009

Trashy promises

Well, as expected, SBS Transit has NOT been able to keep to its commitment of its widely reported 10-minute schedule effective August 2009. I had hoped it would be later rather than earlier. Today, I arrived at the bus stop just below the Dover MRT station at 8.15am. As I expected, the Service 74 bus had just arrived and I missed it. That's ok. I remembered what I blog about it yesterday (Fast Commitment) and decided to test out the promise - schedule-wise. This is, after all, the peak hour of the day. So I SMS'd the bus arrival service and was informed that the next Service 74 will arrive in 10 minutes. That was to be also expected. That was the plan. Well and good.

But I ended up waiting 25 minutes for the next Service 74 bus to arrive. This isn't a good start for the public transport company's commitment to better service. Like I said, it is the doing that proves the promise, and sadly, SBS Transit cannot do what it promises, and so soon at that. And this is not the first time either. In fact, it stretches way way back from when I was a student taking the bus to school. I blogged about this before.

One day, my classmate arrived late for lessons in the morning, and upon enquiry, said that the bus was late. The whole class roared! The teacher ticked him off, implying that the bus cannot be late, that the student is. I thought my teacher made sense. If you want to be punctual, be early, even at the expense of doing nothing when you arrive early. But over the years, I think my classmate, who today is a lawyer, was right. Its the bloody bus, stupid. And so I ended up being late for work today. Fortunately for me, I didn't have to walk into my boss' room to announce my arrival, but it does prick the conscience that I owe my employers so many minutes of loss time (multiply that by the same number of people at the bus stop waiting for the same service this morning and you've got major national productivity issue here). But I comfort myself to know that it is not I but the bus that was late.

Well, so much for SBS Transit's promises. You can throw their commitments into the next long-kang you come across. If it is urgent, you can flush it down the toilet bowl the next time you visit the loo.

But of course, SBS Transit will come out saying that it is the traffic jam though they can't blame the weather. It was sunny and clear this morning. Traffic jam? It really won't hold water because the number of stops between the Dover Bus Interchange and the Dover Bus Stop can be counted on the palm of one's hands. They will insist that the jam is the other direction, resulting in shortage of buses. If what they announced over the weekend is true, they'd be slapping themselves on the cheeks. So what went wrong? My guess is - it is the bus captain - the weakest link in the grand scheme of things. And the shocker is that SBS Transit doesn't seem to realise this. They keep buying new buses, tweeking the satellite links, thereby building up excuses for the next fare hike. The window of 10-minutes is very tight, so bus-captains must be ever so sensitive to the passing minutes, if not seconds, when they board their buses, start the engines and leave on their journeys.

Sadly, this is one thing that does not work, and continues not to work, in Singapore. Nevertheless, in this August month,

Majullah Singapore!

We keep on hoping, even after 36 years!