The Straits Times
Published on Jan 16, 2013

Reconsider raising bus fares


TRANSPORT correspondent Maria Almenoar has hit the nail on the head ("The facts and figures about bus ops"; last Thursday).

In many commercial organisations, there are services or products that are not necessarily profitable but, most of the time, play a role in the overall profitability of the organisation.

As pointed out by Ms Almenoar, bus operations are meant to feed into the train system. Thus, it will be hard to justify any raising of fares for such an essential service.

Hong Kong's MTR was run efficiently as a public transport organisation for about 25 years before it became a public-private partnership. It is a well-operated system with affordable fares.

Both SBS Transit and SMRT are profitable. They have done the right thing by adding to their bottom lines through other means. But it is because both organisations need to look after shareholders' interests that there is a conflict of interest.

For some time now, the Government has voiced the opinion that if SBS and SMRT are run as public enterprises, efficiency will be lost.

It is hard for me to accept this as many of our public services are run very efficiently.

The crux of the matter is that buses and trains are public services provided for the betterment of the overall transport infrastructure.

With frequent train breakdowns and crowded buses adding to the woes of commuters, fares should not be raised.

With sky-rocketing certificate of entitlement prices, more people will be taking public transport, which should help make the bus aspect of the business profitable.

Thomas Richard Prakasam