Pressure public transport operators to be more efficient

The latest adjustments to public transport fares, which kick in on Dec 30, should be applauded as a big step in the right direction ("Equity, clarity in public transport fares, at last"; Nov 21).

The move towards absolute distance-based fares based on the shortest path between origin and destination is welcome news. So is the general 4.2 per cent reduction in fares across the board.

However, more could be done.

Greater effort should be put into reducing overheads, which could translate into more cost-effective public transport.

The golden rule for public transport operators (PTOs) is to achieve the lowest operating cost per passenger-kilometre, while still maintaining high standards of safety, reliability and customer service.

The present public transport system does not put sufficient pressure on PTOs to streamline their operations; competition on any given route is trivial, penalties for service disruptions are less than damaging, and proceeds from fares are all but guaranteed.

The Land Transport Authority's move to a contract-based model, which will take into consideration operational efficiency and service standards, is timely.

Experienced and competent overseas operators entering the Singapore market and providing high-quality services at competitive cost is also a welcome prospect.

That said, PTOs should be encouraged to step up their game even before their current operating contracts expire.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi