Thursday, August 07, 2003

we are surrounded, -surrounded- i say, by idiots. have been blasted out of my idle musings mode by this particular piece of crap:

Govt Backs Bus Route Changes Along NEL

gimme a break here. how is this better for consumers? hello -- we all know what's going on here. SBSTransit has realised that they are cannibalising their own consumer base along the NEL, and the NEL is running FAR below full capacity, so of COURSE they go running to the regulator and say -look, we were stupid, now we need to 'rationalise' our bus routes IE close them down so that we can force people to take our brand new bloody expensive trains- and the regulator and ministry say -ok, the markets must be allowed to work and people must just suffer-

how could this have been avoided, you ask me? well for starters it was STUPID to let SBS have the NEL: they have no experience running a train line, it doesn't break any monopoly; if anything it created a whole corridor in the northeast where SBS now has a monopoly over transportation in general with attendant ability to neglect competitive pressures on pricing -not that we have any since transportation in singapore is at best a oligopoly, which acts like a monopoly thanks to our beloved regulator, LTA. i shall refrain from airing my views on the LTA; they aren't fit for public consumption. they should have realised right from the start that this would happen; the trains are going to take some bus riders -like me- away because of the location of the stations, the speed of transit, and the ability to ignore increased cost; but the convenience of the bus stop situation and the relatively straightline ride to downtown via upper serangoon road means that people are less willing to change their habits and walk to a more expensive, and perhaps more inconvenient train station [both on the entry and exit].

we return to the idea of 'public transport' - is it a market tt shd be private in the first place? now certainly it's not a public good in the sense that street lamps, or storm drains are public goods. but in the sense that there would be market failure if govts did not intervene -certain routes would not have service because they would cost too much to run, but people who are living there desire the services-, govt intervention is necessary in the mkt to make sure people get necessary services. in that case shd public transport be in the public interest or in the interest of the private companies that provide the services? where shd the govt stand on the issue of 'rationalising' bus routes? certainly people are going to be unhappy abt it -- the kids who have to find another way to go to school, the grandmothers who don't want to have to walk three extra blocks from the mrt station because they're ninety years old and might break a hip. who's going to take responsibility for these people?

the transport industry has always been a touchy spot with me; it infuriates me how our ministry and regulator can be so silly and inconsistent and unversed with reality. i mean, HONESTLY, who believes that SBS is more fit to run a train line than SMRT; who believes that trains can be anything but a natural monopoly in a market the size of singapore? and who has the best interests of the people in mind? the private transport companies? the regulator? the govt?

they sure don't act like it.

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