07 August 2007

Public transport model needs a rethink

The Public Transport Council will require the bus companies to increase frequencies during peak hours. But instead of imposing new demands on existing operators, what about inviting new ones in? Full essay.


Anonymous said...

your idea of using independent operators to provide additional capacity during rush hours does not sound practical: what do they do during the rest of the day? a large operator can schedule crew shifts with the end of an earlier shift and the beginning of a later shift coinciding with the rush hours; a small operator cannot do this

a lot of the problems are the consequence of the operators being listed companies with public shareholders that need to see profitability: they minmize cost and maximize income by having infrequent services that are jampacked; I assume they receive some government subsidy in the sense that they need not recover the capital construction cost incurred before the services start; how substantial this subsidy is in terms of recurrent accounting (e.g., they cannot charge depreciation as expense if they do not own the capital setup) is not clear


Sillyporean said...

You raised a few interesting points that I haven't considered before. Just a few quick comments:

"There is a valid concern that in a privatised market, districts with low residential density will be ignored completely"

As it is, bus services in low-traffic areas are being steadily withdrawn. The 2 bus companies have their cake and eat it too.

Good point on the peak hours. As the roads get more packed (thanks to an over-supply of COEs), drivers will start their journeys earlier in the mornings, and later in the evenings.

Who knows, the bus companies might also revise the definition of "over-crowding".

Anonymous said...

I think you ought to be fair about rail coverage, as the plans are indeed underway to address that.

Could the extension of the rail system have been done earlier? I believe so. Should? Perhaps. That will lead to the question of how much should the issue of profitability play in the decisions.

Teck Soon said...

I disagree with sgsociety's comment about the practicality of independent operators during rush hours. During the rest of the day, they need not do anything. They can charge enough extra during the rush period to compensate for not operating during slow hours. If they choose their routes competitively then the price will be set by market demand for the extra rush hour service. In any case, sgsociety, can you see any downside to allowing more competitors? Even if you think they will not be able to survive as small operators, shouldn't the market decide this instead of you? Wouldn't the market decide this more efficiently than a communist-style central planner?

Anonymous said...

Have nobody been to army?

Hehe. Private operators do operate

(probably illegally??) to ferry book in and book outs (peak hour) for personnel all across the island - especially near industrial areas, where they can also ferry "shift workers" to and fro the MRT.

They are efficient, probably profitable and I think can play a more substantial role if given the chance.

Anonymous said...

dear teck soon: you were talking to me as if I was the government; pick on someone the right size; I dont "decide" whether to allow competition

you think the idea is practical, so go and start one of those companies (and lobby the right people, not me, for permission); I dont think it is practical; so let's leave it

Anonymous said...

Dear sgsociety,
I didn't intend for my comment to sound like a personal attack. Sorry about that. Whether practical or not, I guess I should have the freedom to start a bus company without lobbying anyone. It looks like you might agree with me on that. Well, I am poor, so I couldn't do it anyway...
Teck Soon

Tan Lien Chiow said...

We need to approach the transportation woes with an open mind. Please refer to my paper "An automated way out of transportation woes" which you can download from this link http://www.MonicPRT.com under the latest news and information section.

Thank you,

Tan Lien Chiow

Anonymous said...

i am living in Hong Kong now. I have not studied the details about the transport here or in Singapore,, but I must say after being in Hong Kong, the Public transport in Singapore Sucks. Very long waiting time, always jam pack ( in Singapore). It may be jam packed in hong kong during peak hours but the buses and trains run so frequently the waiting time is significantly reduced! And taxis are so much easier to hail over here. I think some one should look at the hong kong model vs singapore model.