Just when you think that you won’t have a chance to walk on railway tracks after KTM’s Tanjong Pagar station moved to Woodlands, we celebrated SMRT’s first breakdown in 2014 on 11th January. Yahoo news reported that crowds of passengers were seen at Yew Tee MRT station and as late as at 1:20pm, passengers were seen walking on the train tracks, a significant distance from Kranji MRT station. Remember this song?
Just one week after the incident, the Public Transport Council made an important announcement and the buzz it made on social media kept me awake on Thursday night. The Public Transport Council According to Wikipedia, the Public Transport Council (Abbreviation: PTC; Chinese: 公共交通理事会 is an independent regulatory statutory board under the Ministry of Transport of Singapore, established on 14 August 1987 by the Public Transport Council Act of 1987. PTC regulates the public bus and rapid transit network in areas such as fares and service standards.
PTC is also authorised to issue and do (sic) amendments to bus service licences, and advises the Ministry of Transport on areas such as conditions on licensees and imposing of penalties on non-complying licensees. It regulates public land transport, differing in terms of roles from the statutory boards under MOT, which represent the mode of transport. PTC was established to develop an integrated public transport network, by assuring quality services and by surveying the fares suitable for the public.
An application to increase transport fares has been made to the PTC. I thought people were being cynical when they predicted the outcome. Then, a couple of days ago, I read something like this:
Details of concessions to make transport fares more affordable for low income workers and the disabled will be announced on Thursday, together with the Public Transport Council’s (PTC) decision on the fare adjustment, said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew.
PTC’s Independent decision was already known to the boss. Fire anticipated. Get sand buckets ready. Isn’t that like announcing the outcome already? Should anyone be scratching his or her head if we’ve predicted the outcome based on this piece of news? True enough:
The PTC accepted their proposals to adjust fares by 6.6 per cent
Starting from April 6, adult fares for buses and trains are set to increase by four to 20 cents, announced the Public Transport Council (PTC) this afternoon (Jan 16). Those paying by cash will pay more, with fares set to rise by 20 cents per trip.
For senior citizens and students, fares will increase by two to 10 cents per journey, with those paying cash having to pay more.
Poly students get their concession fares equivalent to that of secondary school and ITE students and there’s even a cool $120 per month unlimited card.
Yao mo gao chor ah?
1. Which privately-run business with genuine, meaningful competition can afford to increase rates/charges in spite of poor performance?
2. Which privately-run transport operator with genuine, meaningful competition can have its “competitor” applying for fare increase at the same time. Those hawing their Chinese New Year goodies now would have loads of competitors thinking of how to undercut them and seize market share if they decide to increase their prices.
3.Increase senior citizen fares at a less visible end and make us feel bad about not giving up our seats at the other more visible end?
4. Increase student fares and let kindergarten kids ride for free so we’ll be encouraged to lock up our older kids at home and bring the younger ones out?
The public outcry is all over social media. Former NCMP Steve Chia predicted that the transport minister’s Facebook wall will be “cleaned up” overnight. He was spot on.
What can we do? Nothing. Someone said on Facebook that no matter how many times or how badly we’ve been blatantly screwed, we would not dare hit the streets and protest. A lawyer friend on Facebook described all this ranting as “bitching and moaning”. Maybe we could learn from anarchist Suthep Thaugsuban and demand the replacement of the PTC with our own appointed council comprising senior citizens, students, NSFs and disabled people. People who actually take the MRT. But wait a minute. The PTC was not even elected by us in the first place. What is so anarchistic about demanding their replacement? Still, we can only dream on.
Is it any wonder why K Pop Hunt 3 finalist Stephanie Koh (who is so vocal and articulate) pronounced that she is not proud to be Singaporean? The more people call her a cocky brat, the more her judgement of Singaporeans being unhappy, uncreative, submissive etc are going to be proven true in the coming days, months and years. If anybody is still scratching his/her head wondering why people are angry, I suggest that he/she changes his/her shampoo.
© Chan Joon Yee