Friday, July 15, 2011

Up no down

The transport companies have finally opened their corporate mouths. They want to increase their fares because of rising oil prices and manpower costs. Well, of course manpower costs have gone up. SMRT paid its CEO S$1.85m last year and ComfortDelgro CEO got more or less the same. Going by Wall Street's standards, that's a pittance. But then bench marking against those crooks in NY isn't all that great an idea anyway. In the context of this tiny island where your average Joe in the bus/train earns no more than $35,000 a year, and inflation galloping at 4-5%, S$1.8m a year is a princely sum. And she dares to asked for more? Even Oliver Twist will blush at the thought.

So what's new? Nothing, really. After blowing their trumpets about how they will increase the number of trips and frequency of their buses and trains, I, the man in the street from Mondays to Fridays, hasn't seen, much less felt, any improvements in bus/train frequencies at all. In fact rush hour intervals on the East-West line has gone up from 3 minutes to 4 minutes - I kid you not. And bus frequency? Sorry, I don't take them anymore. I am taking private buses. These buses cost more, but at least they serve me well. And that's really what commuters are looking for, really. If bus/train services provide noticeable and sustained improvements, I will not grudge a couple of more cents increase in fares. Its really when you are asked to pay more for the same lousy service that you get boiled up every time the issue is raised. The PTC is reportedly studying the proposal. Well, I hope the PTC takes their time and start taking the bus and train first before they make a decision, as a brave MP and the Transport Minister Lui has done. But just don't take it for a day, or a week. Make it a month. Then you begin to understand why hardworking people find it so very hard to go to work nowadays.