There has been news that SMRT and SBS, the duopoly in Singapore's transport system, has applied to the PTC for another round of fare hikes. The usual were cited, such as:
- Price of Diesel and Petrol
- Increase in Operating Cost
I would strong urge against approving a fare hike at this stage, as
1. The cost of Petroleum has sharply gone down since the record highs of last month. At least, they are now back to March 2008 levels. Ever since crude oil prices went down, the Main Petrol stations in Singapore has also responded by reducing their fuel prices across the board. If the duopoly argues that the fuel prices has increased for the past few months, the cheaper fuel prices for the next few months will improve their fuel cost/profit efficiency, and ultimately translate into bigger profit margins. To approve of an increase in fares at this stage is to allow them to take advantage of cheaper fuel costs and increase fare costs to present to the public another year of record profit for FY2008.
2. The increase in Operating Costs is what all companies face, not just the duopoly. Corporations must do their own part and take steps to maximise cost/profit instead of being a arrogant, pampered kid who go to its parents everytime profit is reduced.
3. Record inflation and stagnant wages - Singapore is experiencing an era of unprecented inflation since the 1980s, and amid stagnant wages. The wages for most menial and temporary jobs is still S$5/hour, and basic necessities such as food and transport takes up a huge chunk of their wages. Unless concrete solutions are found to increase their income without compromising on their quality of life, any increase in neccessities will markly increase their Operating Cost and reduce their Net Profit. Now who do they cry to? Noone, unlike the duopoly, who still has the PTC to cry to. Singaporeans can only rely on themselves.
4. SBS Scania buses not up to stratch - The new fleet of SBS single deck buses are meant to replace some of the existing Volvo single deckers due to wear and tear. Although the Scania buses are impressive looking, some of its qualities arent as friendly to the commuter as compared to the Volvos.
- Decreased seating capacity compared to Volvos
- Increased standing capacity compared to Volvos: Thus the commuting experience got worse than before.
- Increased jerkiness compared to Volvos: Probably due to harsher brakes
- More ambient noise compared to Volvos: 1. Engine is louder, might be due to less sound buffers used; 2. The metal air vent plates always clatter, but this can be solved by adding a thin strip of rubber or foam.
I implore the PTC to give this matter serious consideration before your final decision in a month's time.