Friday, July 29, 2011

I've copied this news from here:,-says-Lui

Multiple transport operators could see commuters paying more, says Lui

SINGAPORE - In response to the National Solidarity Party's (NSP) call for greater competition in public transport - including opening up bus services to small private operators - Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew has warned that this could hurt the interests of commuters in the long run.

Speaking at the Choa Chu Kang LRT Station - where he also announced improvements to the LRT system - Mr Lui reiterated that the "cherry-picking" of lucrative routes by multiple operators could end up with commuters paying more.

Mr Lui noted that the two public transport operators - SBS Transit and SMRT - run a mix of profitable and loss-making routes which they are obliged to do so under their universal service obligations.

The minister added: "There is a certain amount of cross subsidy that is taking place from the profitable routes to the non-profitable routes ... if you allow cherry-picking to the profitable routes - and certainly everybody who wants to run one or two buses will want to ply on those routes - then the challenge is what happens to the non-profitable routes? And in the end, would commuters end up having to pay more overall?"

Mr Lui noted that the contestability of bus routes "is a very complicated issue", and its implication on fares has to be studied.

On Wednesday, the NSP suggested multiple smaller bus operators who will propose their own routes and respond faster to changes in demand.

NSP secretary-general Hazel Poa also suggested tenders for trains to be awarded based on service and cost - which Mr Lui pointed out yesterday is being done "and nothing really new".

More trains for Bukit Panjang LRT line

Yesterday, Mr Lui rode the LRT during the morning rush hour. Speaking to reporters later, he announced that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will buy 13 more trains to ease congestion on the 7.8km-long Bukit Panjang LRT line.

The additional trains, which will be put into service from 2014, will boost capacity by 50 per cent and increase train frequencies. For instance, the waiting time for the loop service between Petir and Senja stations will be reduced from five minutes to 4.4 minutes.

As it will start the procurement process later this year, the LTA said it was "premature to provide cost estimates at this stage".

In the meantime, the SMRT will run a parallel bus service to Choa Chu Kang Station that serves the Senja, Jelapang and Segar LRT stations.

To improve reliability of the LRT system, SMRT will also spend S$3.12 million over the next 12 months on improvement works. These include the replacement of the data communication system, a review and redesign of power system so that it is more stable, upgrading of the trains for greater reliability and increasing the signalling system capacity.

In the event of a severe disruption, the SMRT will also activate bridging bus services earlier for affected passengers.

Expressing concern over the delays and disruptions, Mr Lui noted a number were "technical in nature" and that the system has been running for the past dozen years. "What we need to do really is to sit together with SMRT to make sure they are making the right investments and to do their utmost to improve the reliability of the system," he added.

New flats and developments - such as the Institute of Technical Education College West campus - in Bukit Panjang have resulted in increased LRT ridership in the last few years. Average daily ridership on the LRT has grown from 43,700 two years ago to about 51,000 currently.

While the added trains would only be rolled out in 2014, the ward's Member of Parliament, Mr Liang Eng Hwa, welcomed the enhancements. He felt the "big game changer" for Bukit Panjang would be the opening of the Downtown Line in 2015.

"Once the MRT lines come in together with the enhancements, it would largely solve the increased demand from the population increase," Mr Liang added.

Ah yoh!! How to resolve this transport issue? If I remember correctly, WP suggested to nationalise the public transport system but Mr Lui also said cannot (but I can't remember offhand what reason he gave). So what is his brilliant solution? Going by the current situation, by the time the added trains start rolling in 2014, there will still be human congestion coz there are new flats/condos (which equal to more people/passengers) being built in Bukit Panjang area. Then the same issue will rise again.

I can only hope for the downtown line in 2015 now lor.


robin said...

more trains and shorter waiting time will be good

Anonymous said...

I really hope that things can improve.

elderflowertea said...

we shall see~