The Straits Times
Published on Dec 13, 2012

SBS Transit has better buses?


AFTER observing both SBS Transit and SMRT buses on the roads, it seems to me that SBS Transit's buses are in better shape ("Bus fares may go up to help improve drivers' pay"; Dec 7).

They are newer, quieter and cleaner. Their interiors are roomier, and have better furnishings as well as systematic and optimal seat layouts. They are also better maintained overall.

I wonder if the Transport Ministry, Land Transport Authority (LTA), Public Transport Council and other commuters agree with this observation.

With the ministry and the LTA having conceived of the current public bus financing system, and allocated the assets and routes, SBS Transit appears to have fared better than SMRT in terms of profits on its bus operations.

Before asking commuters to pay more by tweaking the bus fare formula, we ought to know:

- Were there overhead costs or allocation discrepancies leading to the disparate financial performances of the two bus operators?

- Could SMRT learn from SBS Transit's best practices to become more profitable and provide better service?

- Are there specific deficiencies in the current financing system of unilateral asset and route assignment scheme that the new financing system is designed to address?

Cheang Peng Wah