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Public transport misery/gridlock: a big money spinner for Singapore government too?

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Old 17-09-2013, 06:08 PM   #1
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Smile Public transport congestion/gridlock: another cash cow for the Singapore government too?

Public transport congestion/gridlock: another cash cow for the Singapore government too?
- Money (taxes) collected from the opportunistic licensing of public and private transport, shouldn't it be returned in the form of infrastructure to encourage cycling or other forms of healthy, nonpolluting commute options e.g. walking etc?

Correct me if I'm wrong but I understand that SBS/ TIBs (public) bus services probably have to pay COE, road tax and ERP whilst operating their respective public bus services, MRT also has to pay LTA royalties for the use of the MRT carriages and tracks, +/- physical infrastructure.

In 'Nine private bus operators bid to run City Direct routes' [ST, 03Sept2013]: "Transtar Travel, along with four of the nine, also vied for the Jurong West City Direct tender... That two-year contract was won by ComfortDelGro Bus for about $1.06 million. ": "S$1.06million" was collected from the winning bidder for a contract to provide 'public transport'.

According to 'The COE money making machine (BY DAVID R. HARDOON)' the ballpark average COE revenue is between S$1 to 2 billion p.a. (chart) whilst the 'Singapore FY2012 Budget Highlights' (pdf link), Chart2.1 shows 'Motor Vehicle Related Taxes' to be S$1.8B and 'Vehicle Quota Premiums' to be S$2.0B for FY2011. (amounting to approx 4% of govt revenue each (Chart1.1)).

Road use related taxes can only rise as numerically more citizens, PRs and 'foreign talents' strive to own cars in Singapore, whilst belly bulges (obesity.pict) exceed exercise rates as people work longer office hours just to afford public or private transport to or back from work. (Global warming will also make air-con a costly luxury)

In regard to healthcare expenditure, "By 2050, Singapore may have as many as one million diabetics. Every one in two people, by age 70, will be diabetic - up from one in three today" '1m diabetics by 2050 as Singaporeans get older, fatter' [ST, 02Oct2012]. Given the socialization of healthcare costs through 'MedishieldLife' insurance national risk pooling, I wonder how costly subscription to MedishieldLife (a compulsory scheme) would eventually be.

In its letter to myself in LTA/CC/PCF/FB/F20.000.000/13623/VT (dtd29Jan2010), LTA gave a whole bunch of legalese and excuses why proper bus lanes couldn't be implemented and why public cycling on roads should not be actively encouraged (focusing upon defending their lousy band aid standard 'Give way to buses scheme').

Unfortunately, no matter how efficient LTA might think its public transport to be, the truth is "Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo revealed ... bus speeds have gone down from 19.1kmh in 2007 to 17.8kmh...." - see full discussion at 'Public transport in Singapore?: Ride bicycle is faster.' [HWZ18Jan2012]

Indeed Singapore is a playground for the rich. For the rest of us, our freedom to commute freely on bicycles is discouraged. We are promised affordable healthcare in a society where "Every one in two people, by age 70, will be diabetic".

Traffic will certainly grid lock as the LTA relies desperately upon flimsy, conflicting, ad-hoc/band-aid traffic schemes (such as 'Give Way to Buses scheme' which results in delays consequent of more accidents) whilst striving to optimize license fees collected from public transport operators.

The state in its efforts to enrich its coffers, has both held hostage and moneytised the health, safety and freedom of its people. Singapore is not the state to live in.

More for cycling, more for freedom please.

Tags:
Singapore, public, transport, licensing, tax, fees, poverty, freedom, cycling, MRT, LTA, affordability, costs, government, privatized,

"I'm Hungry": "Stop talking politics":

In return for the "first class political leadership", we pay our leaders very well:

The future of the average Singaporean moving forward (1 in 2 have diabetes):[pict source]
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Last edited by cherry6; 17-09-2013 at 07:05 PM..
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Old 18-09-2013, 04:28 PM   #2
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Smile [Mahbubani.K]: LTA transport masterplan- as successful as "a dog chasing its tail".

[Mahbubani.K]: LTA transport masterplan- as successful as "a dog chasing its tail".

"Paradoxically, the high prices of cars have made them even more desirable as status symbols. This is why luxury brands trump cheap brands in Singapore sales. If the desirability of cars keeps rising, our efforts to curtail car ownership will be as successful as a dog chasing its tail."
"The former mayor of Colombian capital Bogota, Mr Enrique Penalosa, put it very well when he said: 'A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It's where the rich use public transportation.'"
"There was a time when Singapore's experiments in improving its urban environment would get global attention. Today, it is a man like Mr Penalosa, with bigger dreams than our dreams,..."

---
My take home message: Since public transport in Singapore is far from acceptable for the rich to use- Singapore is not yet a "developed country"... Singapore has much to learn from Mr Enrique Penalosa (former mayor of Colombian capital Bogota) about town/ city transport planning. Transport public/ private in Singapore will probably continue along the path of either high cost, high inconvenience, long delays or all of the above- the leaders of Singapore need to wear their thinking caps- soon if Singapore is to progress forwards.
- And have they thought about cycling anyone?- See: 'Public transport in Singapore?: Ride bicycle is faster.' [HWZ18Jan2012]
====================

Full text:
The Straits Times, Published on Sep 14, 2013
BY INVITATION
Fewer cars, fewer roads
I have a dream for Singapore
By Kishore Mahbubani
A few weeks ago, on Aug 28, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the famous speech given by Martin Luther King Jr entitled "I have a dream". He said: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character."
The goal of his speech was to open the roads to advancement for his fellow black citizens. I too have a dream for my fellow Singaporeans. However, while the goal of his speech was to open the roads to advancement, my goal is to close the roads to advancement for my fellow citizens. The only difference between him and me is that while he was speaking metaphorically, I am speaking literally. We do not need many more physical roads or much more physical road space in Singapore.
One undeniable hard truth of Singapore is that we live in one of the smallest countries in the world. This is also why we have one of the most expensive land costs in the entire world. Apart from Monaco, no other United Nations member state has land as expensive as Singapore has per square foot. Hence, we should value every square foot. Every square foot we give up to road space is a square foot taken away from other valuable uses: pedestrian walkways, bike paths, green parks and so on.
To be fair to our road planners, they are caught in a bind because Singapore is continuing to grow its population of cars. If we expand the number of cars, we have no choice but to expand the amount of roads to carry more cars. So the real solution is to reduce the demand for more cars in Singapore. How do we do this?
The problem here is that a car remains an essential part of the Singapore dream. Yet, if every Singaporean achieves his or her dream, we will get a national nightmare. To prevent this national nightmare from happening, we have created harsh policies to raise prices and reduce the demand for cars.
Status symbols
Paradoxically, the high prices of cars have made them even more desirable as status symbols. This is why luxury brands trump cheap brands in Singapore sales. If the desirability of cars keeps rising, our efforts to curtail car ownership will be as successful as a dog chasing its tail.
So what is the alternative solution? The solution is obvious: Change the Singapore dream!
Yes, almost every Singaporean reading this article will laugh out loud at this suggestion. How can any well-off Singaporean deprive himself of a car? It serves as the most reliable form of transportation as well as a powerful status symbol. The minute you own a car, especially a Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Lexus, your friends know that you have arrived.
But for 10 years of my life, I have actually lived on another even more crowded tiny island where it is not rational to own a car. In fact, it is considered downright stupid to buy and own a car if you live in Manhattan. All this came home clearly to me one evening in Manhattan when I saw the former chairman of Citibank, Mr Walter Wriston, and his wife Kathryn standing on First Avenue with their arms raised and trying to hail a cab.
Clearly, Mr Wriston was then one of the richest men on our planet. He could have easily bought a car in Manhattan. Yet, it just did not make sense.
The eco-system of public transport that Manhattan had created with a combination of subway trains, public buses and readily accessible taxis meant that in a crunch you could get anywhere in Manhattan using public transport.
More significantly, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, another clearly very rich man, used to take a subway train to work in Manhattan.
The former mayor of Colombian capital Bogota, Mr Enrique Penalosa, put it very well when he said: "A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It's where the rich use public transportation."
I have been to Bogota. When I visited it in 1992, the city was so unsafe that I was given a private bodyguard to walk down its equivalent of Orchard Road. Mr Penalosa transformed the city so much that Latino Fox News described him as "one of the world's pre- eminent minds on making modern cities more liveable."
Mr Penalosa is quoted as saying: "When we talk about car-free cities, we're not talking about some hippie dream. Not only do they exist, but they also are the most successful cities on the planet. The ones where the real estate is the most valuable, the ones that attract most tourists, the most investment, the ones that generate the most creative industries."
There was a time when Singapore's experiments in improving its urban environment would get global attention. Today, it is a man like Mr Penalosa, with bigger dreams than our dreams, who is described by Latino Fox News as a man whose "work and ideas have gained him international attention and a loyal fan base that includes New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg".
Mr Paul Steely White, executive director of New York City's Transportation Alternatives, has also said about New York City that "the way the streets of the greatest city in the world are being used is changing fundamentally… People are beginning to understand that it's entirely possible and really very desirable to lead a life without being tethered to an automobile".
We therefore have to replace the Singapore dream with the Manhattan or Bogota dream.
We have to give up this insane dream of owning a car and replace it with an ecosystem of a public transport system that makes it irrational to own a car.
Singapore's failure
And this is probably one of Singapore's biggest failures in its first 50 years: We have failed to develop a world-class ecosystem of public transport. We do have a good public transport network, but this has not kept pace with the population's expectations, which include a more reliable MRT system with fewer breakdowns, predictable bus services, taxis available in thundery showers, and pools of electric cars for ready rental.
So why did we fail? The answers must be complex. But one fundamental error could be simple. We expected every artery of this ecosystem to be financially viable. The disastrous result of looking at each artery and not looking at the ecosystem as a whole is that while each artery made sense in isolation, the combination did not result in a good ecosystem. Even more dangerously, by looking at each unit in isolation, we did not consider its impact on the island or the nation as a whole.
Let me give a specific example from the area of expanding road space. Many Singaporeans of my generation are still puzzled that the road planners of Singapore destroyed our precious National Library on Stamford Road to build a little tunnel under Fort Canning to save two minutes of driving time. The road planners who designed this tunnel had no idea that they were effectively shooting a bullet through the soul of Singapore by destroying the National Library.
This is why we have to be fair to our road planners. The only key performance indicator (KPI) given to them is to make traffic flow smoothly. With this KPI, it is logical to build more roads or expand road space. Hence, it was perfectly natural for our road planners to announce recently that Clementi Road and the Pan-Island Expressway would be expanded. I am sure many motorists who use that stretch of road daily will approve. But when do we say that enough is enough?
This is why we need a new dream. Does this mean Singaporeans will stop driving cars?
Absolutely not. My dream is to walk out of my house, use a smart card to pick up an electric car on rent and drive it anywhere I want to. We can replace car ownership with car pools. In fact, other cities have begun trying this. In Vauban, a suburb of Freiburg, Germany, 70 per cent of residents choose to live without private cars due to excellent city planning and a car sharing system. Before you scoff at electric cars, let me tell you that electric cars have faster torque than petrol-driven cars.
In short, we can have an alternative dream for Singapore. Let us dream of an island with fewer cars and fewer roads. It will be closer to being paradise on earth.
stopinion@sph.com.sg
The writer is dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.
Copyright © 2013 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
Fewer cars, fewer roads

Tags: Public, transport, affordability, road, Singapore, Bogota, Enrique, Penalosa, efficiency, poor, car, motor, congestion, pollution
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Last edited by cherry6; 18-09-2013 at 05:58 PM..
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Old 18-09-2013, 04:36 PM   #3
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Removing the bus routes that ran parallel to trains in the name of efficiency was probably a bad idea on hindsight.

That assumed trains can run perfectly and there were sufficient capacity to handle the load, both we all know were grossly wrong. The removal of the bus routes also happened at the time when the immigration laws went up. Ironically, we got back to the parallel thing with BSEPS .(Bus Service Enhancement Programme)
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Old 18-09-2013, 06:44 PM   #4
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Smile

Removing the bus routes that ran parallel to trains in the name of efficiency was probably a bad idea on hindsight.

That assumed trains can run perfectly and there were sufficient capacity to handle the load, both we all know were grossly wrong. The removal of the bus routes also happened at the time when the immigration laws went up. Ironically, we got back to the parallel thing with BSEPS .(Bus Service Enhancement Programme)
Guess the more screw up the public transport system is, the more people people need/ want cars (/ "city direct routes") and the more revenue the govt can earn from COE, ERP, road tax, petrol duties, special license fees etc etc.

Where SBS/ SMRT public transport fails, even the small transport players have to pay license fees to LTA to provide public transport enhancements. (report at bottom).

A paradox really, the worse the situation becomes, the more the government gets paid... the irony of life really.
-------------------------
In 'Nine private bus operators bid to run City Direct routes' [ST, 03Sept2013]: "Transtar Travel, along with four of the nine, also vied for the Jurong West City Direct tender... That two-year contract was won by ComfortDelGro Bus for about $1.06 million. ": "S$1.06million" was collected from the winning bidder for a contract to provide 'public transport'.
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Old 20-09-2013, 10:10 AM   #5
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The one thing I do not condone is using taxpayers' money to buy public buses for SBS and SMRT.

That is ridiculous! Both bus operators are PRIVATE companies for crying out loud.

Anyway, we are just peons in a country where decisions are made by politicians who think they are elite and intelligent that require the peons to obey them obediently.
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Old 20-09-2013, 10:52 AM   #6
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Typically money collected from taxes are spent on Defense and rainy days. Only some are spent on healthcare, and education. So, of cos money collected from ERPs, COEs and charges on public transport companies are not returned to tax payers through infrastructure building.

If anyone wants the excess taxes to be returned or less tax to be collected, they better vote in those parties that promises these things.
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Old 20-09-2013, 10:54 AM   #7
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The one thing I do not condone is using taxpayers' money to buy public buses for SBS and SMRT.

That is ridiculous! Both bus operators are PRIVATE companies for crying out loud.

Anyway, we are just peons in a country where decisions are made by politicians who think they are elite and intelligent that require the peons to obey them obediently.
Agreed. You don't see the bus operator using their profits to benefit us during the good times.
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Old 20-09-2013, 11:01 AM   #8
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The one thing I do not condone is using taxpayers' money to buy public buses for SBS and SMRT.

That is ridiculous! Both bus operators are PRIVATE companies for crying out loud.

Anyway, we are just peons in a country where decisions are made by politicians who think they are elite and intelligent that require the peons to obey them obediently.
You got brainwashed too?

Both transport operators are started using govt funds and have TH or GIC or their related companies as major shareholders, with (I guess) Govt related directors on their board.

These companies also have infrastructure handed to them FOC. These infrastructures are build using tax payer's money. They generate revenue using these infrstructure.

They also get govt protection in their business.

Hence, these companies should not be considered a "private" business.
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Old 20-09-2013, 11:11 AM   #9
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Agreed. You don't see the bus operator using their profits to benefit us during the good times.
Its not just that... The purchase make a mockery of the claim that the operators are private business which should reasonably reward its shareholders through dividends generated by higher fares.

The purchase takes away the need for the shareholders to invest in the business to generate the revenues and remove business risk that should be incurred for the shareholders.

In which business do you get govt to pay for the infrastructure that generate revenue for you and protect you from competition, and you come up with minimal investment to make maximum profits? If there is such a business, I aim to start one...
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Old 20-09-2013, 11:33 AM   #10
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government still owns over 50% of SMRT and SBSTransit through T-holdings iirc

these firms do not have public interest at heart when considering their service quality. which is mostly a result of having been protected for so darn long.

the market needs to be fully opened up.
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Old 20-09-2013, 12:18 PM   #11
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50 more goods years to go for the ruling party!
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Old 28-09-2013, 01:00 AM   #12
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Their salaries have to come from somewhere
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Old 28-09-2013, 06:48 AM   #13
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50 more goods years to go for the ruling party!
Your means those area run by WP does not have these problem or have these issues fixed already?
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Old 28-09-2013, 06:53 AM   #14
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government still owns over 50% of SMRT and SBSTransit through T-holdings iirc

these firms do not have public interest at heart when considering their service quality. which is mostly a result of having been protected for so darn long.

the market needs to be fully opened up.
Correct. In the first place, these company should not even get listed in stock exchange.

When it get listed, profit is the first objective. Worse is this expectation become higher each year. We have almost no population growth, so where do they get the extra from? The quicker way has to come from day to day maintenance. Waiting for the fair to increase is too slow!
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Old 29-09-2013, 06:59 PM   #15
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Your means those area run by WP does not have these problem or have these issues fixed already?
Lol. So walking into an opposition ward means every damn thing different? Pavements also different issit? Trees also different issit?

If opposition ward allowed to do things differently then Potong Pasir and Hougang would have had their HDBs upgraded long long ago.
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