Why Singaporeans shun services

Too expensive, unnecessary and touristy. This was the perception Singaporeans had of the river taxi services offered by the bumboats plying the Singapore River.

When asked if he would consider taking the bumboats to get to different points along the river, analyst Poa Choon Keong, 27, who works in Raffles Place, said "no".

"Walking is free and quite fast," he said. "I may take it for the experience once or twice, or if I'm taking guests around Singapore. But probably not as a mode of transport."

Marketing manager Alvin Lim, 34, found the $5 fee for the river taxi services "too high". "I thought it was just for tourists," he said.

Before it ceased operations on Jan 1 last year, river taxi operator Singapore River Explorer had said 70 per cent of its customers were tourists.

Those who live around the Singapore River tend to drive or have chauffeurs, and did not need to make the daily commute on bumboats, its operations manager had said.

The take-up rate would also drop when the weather was bad, such as during periods of haze or rain.

National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der Horng had previously said that given the service's frequency and the boats' small passenger capacity, "it is not possible for the river taxis to be on a par with other modes of transport".

Singapore River Cruise general manager See Toh Yew Leong would say only that its services attract "a good mix" of locals and tourists.

Having operated for less than a month, whether Water B can create a buzz among locals remains to be seen.

Melissa Lin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2017, with the headline 'Why Singaporeans shun services'. Print Edition | Subscribe