I have to say most Hong Kong public transport service is generally better than Singapore.
Posted by: zcf2k at Wed Oct 24 10:11:10 SGT 2007
One cannot help but wonder, with such frequent public feedback like this letter, what the emasculated authorities are doing to justify their top paycheck.
Posted by: mystykyl at Wed Oct 24 09:53:04 SGT 2007
If LTA claims our transport system is World Class, the one in Hong Kong must be Beyond World Class then.
Posted by: npolhp00 at Wed Oct 24 09:43:33 SGT 2007
Anyone who has been to Hong Kong would know that their transport system is efficient, business-like and will take you where you want to go, efficiently and economically. Here we have a lot of cosmetics but no substance. Fares keep increasing and the taxi service is a joke. There are so many surcharges that even the taxi drivers themselves are confused.
Nowadays, you have even Foreign Talent bus drivers and they drive like they do back home. When they come out from the bus bays, they really don't care a hoot what's behind.
All in all, the transport system in Singapore is a blight on its otherwise good reputation as an efficiently run city.
When will all the jokers responsible for this state of affairs wake up?
Posted by: yangchaohuangdi at Wed Oct 24 09:26:42 SGT 2007
The only reason we do not improve is that the would be decision makers have blinkered arrogant views on how good their system is and when feedback (cristicsms) is raised, the reaction is one of denial and boasts of how good the system really is. How refreshing if they can admit to the limitations and shortfalls and pledge to improve. Don't hold your breath.
Last edited by Wisarut on 20/01/2010 11:33 pm; edited 3 times in total
Posted: 22/01/2008 9:46 am Post subject: ระบบรถไฟฟ้า - รถเมล์สิงคโปร์เจ๋งสู้ระบบที่แวนคูเวอร์ไม่ได้
Land transport reforms in Singapore - at last
January 18th, 2008 by mrbiao
It's a relief to hear that Singapore's LTA has finally woken up to the reality of the less than effective public transport system we have. While I agree that we have an efficient system in terms frequent bus trips, it is far from efficient and effective, with overcapacity and inefficient bus routings. Also, we have the long debated issue about whether a duopoly (SBS and SMRT) is efficient. Here are some of the shortfalls of our public transport system as I see it:
1. Inefficient bus routing - Quite a number of years ago, I remember bus routes being more direct. Nowadays, most services take commuters on a long ride around the neighbourhood, although there may not be many passengers at the stops along the longer routes. Bus companies do this as a way to increase their profits - by going a longer distance, passengers pay more. For example, it now takes me 1 extra fare stage to get downtown from where I stay, compared to in the past. Money is one thing, time is another. It takes an extra 10 minutes to ply the longer route.
2. Frequency of MRTs - Despite our claims of having a world class public transport system, the frequency of our MRTs is laughable. With the exception of morning and evening peak hours, we have to wait 6 to 8 minutes easily for a train (รอตั้ง 6-8 นาทีกว่าจะได้ขึ้นรถไฟฟ้าสิงคโปร์สักขบวน), despite there being lots of commuters at other hours too.
For some reason, trains always seem to be full, no matter whether it's peak or off peak hours. Again, this is about public transport companies trying to optimize loads to maximize their profits. (Hey, we are talking about PUBLIC transport isn't it? Shouldn't it be more of serving the public/country rather than putting profits first? Granted, a profitable operation is essential to avoid having loss-making operators that rely on government subsidies - however, I think they got their priorities wrong).
3. Cost of 'concession fares' - It's a big joke. Tertiary students pay $50+ for a month of bus concession, or $80 - $90 (จ่าย เกือบ ร้อยเหรียญสิงโปร์ หรือ 2พันกว่าบาทไทยต่อเดือน - not sure) for both bus and MRT. That's a concession? Compare to here in Vancouver where students pay C$22 a month for unlimited travel on all public transit services (Bus and Skytrain, our MRT equivalent).
4. EZ-Link system - This is another big joke. A "world-class" country like Singapore needs to regulate its commuters so tightly that they have to implement a tap-in-tap-out payment system to ensure that people cannot cheat on their fares. Compare to a real world-class city like Vancouver where most often nobody checks whether you are holding a valid fare or not when you board the bus, where commuters can board from the back of the bus, and where Skytrain stations have no entry/exit gantries to make sure people actually pay. I think to be fair, maybe gantries at MRTs is not a bad idea but EZ-Link certainly sucks. Why can't we have some level of trust in our commuters? I am sure only a small percentage of people actually cheat on their fares, given the strong laws (jail/fine for not paying the correct fare?) governing it. Perhaps EZ-Link doesn't make it slower when boarding or exiting from the bus, but during peak hours it would be good if commuters can board from the back which given the EZ-Link system it is not possible.
5. Accessibility - A world-class country like Singapore only has a handful of buses equipped for wheelchair use. (รถเมล์และรถไฟฟ้าสิงดปร์ไม่ยักกะมีที่สำหรับคนพิการที่ต้องนั่งรถเข็น) And really, how effective is that? How many wheelchair-bound people do we see use public transport? In contrast, here in Vancouver so far all the buses and Skytrains I see are equipped with space for wheelchair users. Also, buses have some kind of hydraulic function that bus drivers can use to lower the bus to the pavement for wheelchair users to board. Bus drivers are also very patient and used to helping such commuters. It's not just for show. It is actually effective, because very often I see wheelchair users use public transit. Other able-bodied commuters are also civic enough to give up their seats at the front of the bus so that wheelchair users or those who are less mobile (like the elderly, parents with strollers, even people with huge suitcases) can have them. It is possible to push a 30″ suitcase effortlessly on board a bus here instead of relying on taxis to get home from the airport.
Oh, and buses here in Vancouver are also equipped with anti-slip flooring. This is really useful for everyone and not just less mobile people.
Accesibility is not only about wheelchair users, though. It's also about the less mobile categories of commuters I mentioned. How often do we see parents with small children and strollers use the bus? Here, they can simply push the strollers on board. In Singapore, one has to fold it up and then find some way to manage when boarding the bus with a small kid, a stroller, shopping bags and to top it off - uncivilised, selfish and unsympathetic people pushing and shoving and not giving way.
5. It's about the people - Seriously, no matter how we reform the transport system, a large part of a comfortable ride depends on the people - commuters, bus drivers, MRT station staff, etc. If we have rude, uncivilised people, or if people cannot be more civic-minded, the transport system will still suck. Very often buses are not really that full, its just that some selfish people refuse to move to the back of the bus. Boarding buses or trains can be a more comfortable and efficient affair if everyone just stand in line and quit being selfish and wanting to push and shove.
I foresee that Singapore will still be a long way away from having a truly efficient and effective transport system Unless public transport truly becomes a service to the public and not just purely business concerns.
Posted: 27/01/2008 8:28 pm Post subject: รถไฟฟ้า สิงคโปร์คนแน่น เปนปลากระป๋องเพื่อเอาใจผู้ถือหุ้น
Darth Grievous' Dark Domain 鸟话连篇
SMRT = Sardines MRT
Filed under: Rants Darth Grievous @ 10:11
If you are getting the feeling that the trains are getting more packed, it's not an issue of personal perception, it's real! Just take a look at the chart below.
All you need to do is take a look at the figure 'Growth in car kilometers operated (%)' figure, and you will noticed that it has only increased 2%. But compared that to 'Growth in passenger-trip numbers (%)' and 'Growth in weekday passengers (%)' and you will notice that there's an increase of 5.1% and 5.5% respectively.
The figures would suggest that SMRT has not adjusted their train frequencies according to the rise in demand. Apparently, the lessons of SARS have been forgotten and that means, if you get a flu, you can logically blame SMRT because they the chances of more sick people in the same cabin on the same train has increased.
Anyway, I would also suggest you buy some SMRT shares when the price is right. Then at least you can earn some money back from all that fare increments and misery you and your fellow commuters are suffering from SMRT's lack of concern for the people they claimed to serve.
In simpler terms, if you can't beat them, join them. Above which, you can also turn up at the AGM and ask some tough questions make sure their CEO don't laugh all the way to the bank thinking that her job is done because it doesn't matter what the commuters think as long as 'shareholders are happy' .
So Singaporeans walk a lot less than people in the other cities surveyed. Since we have a high ranking for public transport usage, they probably didnt count walks made to/from public transport stops as trips made on foot. I find the sedentary habits of people here quite shocking - many would consider even a 200m walk far. And I think these habits are at least partly a result of urban planning that does not, for example, encourage you to walk to the grocery store instead of driving, even if its only 1/2 km away.
For example, many of my walks would be a lot more pleasant if they didnt involve crossing large busy smelly arterial roads where I either have to wait for ages for the green pedestrian lights or detour (both horizontally and vertically) to an underpass/overpass. Small roads are far more friendly to pedestrians.
He also said Singapores garden city concept does little for nature and biodiversity - a view echoed by many environmentalists here, including the Nature Society and its president Geh Min.
Instead, planners ought to think about urban biodiversity. Part of this, ironically, is to consider packing more people into a smaller area.
Yes. Singapores urban planning seems to be modelled after American urban sprawl. The only difference being we have somewhat better public transport linking suburbs to hubs. But we have the strip malls, the centralization of services within each suburb, the car-centric design of each suburb, the channeling of all traffic through a few often-congested arterial roads, the expressways linking suburbs to other suburbs with few other transport options available, etc.
Dr Kog, who is president of East West Engineering Consultants, also said many buildings in Singapore are built in ways that force occupants to rely on air-conditioning, due to lack of ventilation.
The country cannot mandate against use of air-conditioning, but could legislate for building conditions that are less dependent on air-conditioning, he said.
This is another of my bugbears. Many buildings in Singapore have completely air-conditioned interiors. This seems to be quite unnecessary. Supposing that it is necessary for office productivity to have air-conditioned workspaces, we could still design buildings to have outward-facing, well-ventilated corridors (a la HDB flats) or common non-work areas like pantries and lobbies.
Like it or not, the whole world, and that includes us, has a responsibility to the environment. Sadly the economy does not provide its own carbon tax, so inefficient, inconsiderate building designs arent penalised. And one doubts the government would want to penalise the construction industry thus (besides, non-air-conditioned corridors are so third-world).
Posted: 28/01/2008 11:38 am Post subject: การตอบโต้คำวิจารณ์ว่ารถไฟฟ้าสิงคโปร์ชักเสื่อมคุณภาพ
Making rail king commute
By Editorial Desk
The Straits Times
Publication Date: 26-01-2008
London, Tokyo and New York are highly liveable environments defined by rail commutes, not by the car and not much by bus even. It is pleasing to know that Singapore's rail coverage and network density will, by around 2020, have grown to levels that will match those of London and New York and exceed Tokyo's.
There will be a doubling in the rail network, from 140km to 280km. In practical terms, this says that most Singaporeans can expect to be able to move about efficiently for their daily business, at modest cost and at little polluting damage to the environment.
These are the Transport Ministry's reckonings. It is still an imponderable whether Singaporeans will, like those cities' sensible inhabitants, surrender the use of their cars for the convenience of using public transport. The transport policy direction is clear and it is correct. What is to be determined is whether the extent of the network planning and the daily running of rail services by the operators will meet requirements so well that taking the train becomes not an option but the most natural thing to do. However, unlike in conurbations such as Tokyo, the bus network in Singapore will have to be integrated more tightly with rail, both as a complement and an alternative.
The state will be investing about S$40 billion (US$28 billion) all told on existing extension works, like the Circle and Downtown lines, and new lines to link up remoter points of the island, such as Tuas and Woodlands. There will be more interchanges for passengers to make connections and reduce travel times. If the expansion programme released yesterday is not thrown off schedule by budget or other unforeseen reasons, there is a fair chance the MRT can over time be established as the unrivalled mode of transport. The decision to start phased operations on the Circle Line next year, a year sooner, is part recognition of the need to get the public on the side of rail.
There are other enabling factors to consider. The smooth movement of commuters from rail stations to bus interchanges and taxi stands and vice versa, and between stations and commercial buildings, can be better planned. Raffles Place station is an example of underground links that connect to all main buildings; Orchard is not. Woodlands and Toa Payoh stand out for bus-rail connectivity.
Design of new lines should have these features, whereas existing stations should where feasible have link connections built. Another factor is to anticipate demand in accordance with the national development plan and the growth of new population centres. For illustration, is it feasible to build above-ground tracks through the vast empty tract of Yio Chu Kang-Yishun and Upper Bukit Timah before full-scale development challenges budgets and design flexibility?
This paper seeks to highlight problems and provide suggestions for improving the public transport system in Singapore. It is based on the authors own experiences as a middle-income commuter who relies almost exclusively on public transport, with input received from fellow commuters.
Land transport a key focus for 2008
In his New Years Day message, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that a key focus for 2008 for the government is to improve our public transport system, so that more Singaporeans will take buses and trains instead of driving cars. He acknowledged that the government can do more to make public transport a choice mode of travel.
Among the proposed measures PM Lee highlighted were long-term goals like building more rail lines. However, he pointed out that there are some changes which can and should be made more quickly like improving bus services, making transfers more convenient, as well as running more trains at peak hours. This policy focus by the PM is certainly welcome news for the millions of Singaporeans who depend on public transport to get around.
In January, Transport Minister Raymond Lim unveiled a series of short and long-term changes to the public transport system, a culmination of the Ministry of Transports Land Transport Review. This paper builds upon these proposed changes and offers more recommendations for further improvements.
Good is not enough
The standard of Singapores public transport system is generally good compared with other major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and Sydney. However, simply being good may not be enough, because of the unique constraints that Singapore faces.
It is the governments stated goal to make public transport a choice option and a viable alternative to the car . With just 617 sq km on our main island (much of which is set aside for water catchment and SAF training areas), it is untenable for Singapore to have the same proportion of residents driving their own cars as in, say, Los Angeles, which has a much larger land area.
Hence, with private cars priced out of the reach of most of the population, they are left with little choice but public transport. It is therefore inappropriate to just
benchmark Singapores public transport system against other cities in developed countries. In most of these countries, a car can be purchased for as little as $3,000, making private transport a viable alternative for a much larger percentage of the population. Most Singaporeans enjoy no such luxury. Furthermore, we should not be comparing Singapore with countries that are known to have overcrowded and inferior public transport systems. If there are improvements to be made, Singapore should strive for them rather than look backwards.
There are two broad categories of commuters who regularly take public transport:
Category 1: People who cannot afford to buy a car or take taxis except during emergencies;
Category 2: People who may be able to afford a car in the near future.
For the Category 1 commuters, who are likely to comprise the bottom 50 per cent of income earners, the government has a moral obligation to ensure that the cost of public transport is kept affordable, and that most parts of the island (especially where workplaces are located) are within reach of the bus and rail networks.
Public transport operators SMRT Corporation (SMRT) and SBS Transit (SBST) need to continually explore ways to improve the efficiency of their services, so as to keep their costs and fares affordable for this group of Singaporeans.
Category 2 commuters are probably the target of the governments efforts to make public transport an attractive alternative to cars and cabs. For this group, comfort, convenience and speed are three main factors besides cost that influence their decision whether to take public transport or to drive.
Once these people switch to driving, it is very unlikely that they will return to using public transport. A recent Singapore Press Holdings survey of 295 people who drive cars showed that only two per cent reverted to taking the MRT or buses .
With the expected increase of Singapores population to 6.5 million from the current 4.3 million and the growing affluence of the population as a whole, it is imperative that improvements be implemented soon to make public transport a more attractive option than cars.
Ride or Drive?
For most commuters, the decision on the mode of transport is dictated by three main factors:
Lower travel costs are usually the only reason for taking public transport instead of driving. Remove the cost factor, and the comfort, convenience and speed offered by cars or taxis make public transport a hands-down lose.
The key for the government, therefore, is to ensure that costs of public transport are kept low, while increasing comfort and convenience.
As illustrated in Figure 1, as fares and commuters income increase, the scale will be tipped in favour of driving. Since fares and income will inevitably increase in the long run, the government and public transport companies need to put in more effort into increasing the comfort and convenience of MRT trains and buses.
Problems and Solutions
As a commuter who relies almost exclusively on public transport, I have observed the following key problem areas in our current public transport system:
· Overcrowded buses and trains;
· Inadequate trip planning facilities;
· Inconsiderate commuters;
· Lack of genuine competition, resulting in ever-increasing fares
This paper offers two sets of suggestions on improving the public transport system in Singapore. The first are the quick wins measures which can be implemented quickly and with minimal cost. The second set of suggestions, while not asking for the moon, will require some policy and perhaps mindset changes to implement.
The Quick Wins
1: Lengthen peak hour timings
Unlike many other major cities I have travelled in, including Tokyo, Singapores MRT is crowded at almost every hour of the day, including late evenings and weekends.
It has become a norm to be standing sandwiched between other passengers for the entire ride. Passengers jostle for personal space. Women passengers clutch their handbags closely to their chests to preserve their modesty. At least 20 per cent of standing passengers have nothing to hold on to, as the grab poles are located at the centre of the carriages. Whenever the train comes to a sudden stop, many of them get thrown off balance. The situation is magnified for pregnant mothers, senior citizens and people with disabilities. It is simply not safe, in many cases, for them to board these crowded trains.
Is it any wonder that many young Singaporeans will swear to buy a car as soon as they can afford it to escape this madness?
The most distressing times to take public transport are during the morning and evening rush hours, or late at night on weekends. According to SMRT, peak hours are defined as:
Monday to Friday, between 8 to 9 am and 5.15 to 6.30 pm
Saturday, between 8.15 to 9 am and 1 to 2.30 pm
During these times, the train frequency is about 2 to 5 minutes. However after peak hours, train frequency drops to about 7 to 8 minutes. Disappointingly, SMRTs peak hours do not seem to coincide with the full evening rush hour timings, and curiously neither do they coincide with the taxi peak hour surcharge timings (5 to 8 pm).
Busy professionals rarely leave work in time to make it to the MRT station by 6.30 pm. Many (particularly Category 2 commuters) leave work between 6.15 and 7.30 pm. The result is a space crunch as passengers try to get on the trains between 6.30 and 8 pm. Commuters find themselves packed like sardines on both the North-South and East-West lines.
Later at night between 10 and 11 pm, especially on weekend nights, this crunch situation is repeated when people head home after an evening out in town. Unfortunately, train frequency is not as high as during peak hours and the trains are often packed to overflowing.
SMRTs 2007 annual report  (see Table 1) revealed that while the number of passenger-trips has increased 10 per cent from 2003 to 2007, the number of car kilometres operated actually decreased by 14 per cent. This explains how average car occupancy increased 23 per cent in that same period.
Is it fair for commuters to be paying higher fares yet having to squeeze into much more crowded trains?
SMRT should be compelled to increase its train frequency and extend its peak hour timings.
In response to my suggestion on 23 Sep 07 to extend peak hour timings, SMRT responded:
(T)he current train service frequency is sufficient to meet commuter demand during these time (sic).
On the perception of overcrowded trains, we would like to point out that, although our trains are designed with an engineering limit of 1,800 commuters, we rarely carry more than 1,400 commuters per train during peak hours. In fact, the actual typical average passenger load per train is about 1,200. Furthermore, when benchmarked against 15 of the worlds top metro operators from major cities, we are ranked among the top five with one of the lowest density of passengers on our trains. During peak hours, we have an average of four passengers per square metre, as compared to six passengers per square metre for metros located in other densely populated cities.
SMRT has admitted that during peak hours, there are up to 233 passengers squeezed in to each carriage, and that peak hour passenger density is 4 passengers per square metre. Based on my experience commuting at peak periods, it appears 6 passengers per square metre would be a more accurate estimate.
In any case, even 4 passengers per square metre is too close for comfort. As explained earlier, it is immaterial to benchmark our passenger density against other major cities if we want public transport to be the desired option for most Singaporeans.
To solve the overcrowding problem, SMRT should extend the evening peak hours to 8 pm every day (even on weekends) and have a higher frequency during the late evening from 10 to 11 pm. During peak hours, the train frequency should be 2 minutes. After peak hours, a frequency of 3 to 5 minutes should be the norm. There is no reason to have train frequency exceeding 6 minutes at any time of the day.
I note that it was recently announced that the government will be spending $40 billion by 2020 to extend the rail network, and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will be working with rail operators to run 93 additional train trips per week from February 2008. These are positive steps in the right direction.
Recommendation 2: Develop a harmonized trip-planning e-portal
The available trip-planning facilities on our public transport network are dismal relative to the level of technological advancement of our country.
Although a printed bus guide is available for purchase, it is not convenient to carry around and it is not easy to plan ones trip using it. SMRT and SBST run their own online bus and MRT guides. However, most people plan their trips based on where they want to go, not which transport company to use. To have to run a web search on both sites is excessively time consuming and confusing.
LTA, SMRT and SBS Transit should jointly develop a harmonised online bus and MRT guide with intelligent features that help commuters plan the fastest, most convenient way to get from point A to B be it on the MRT, buses or a combination of both. This online guide should be viewable even on small mobile screens and should be able to accept queries via SMS.
In order to ensure the best possible product is built using the most appropriate technology available, the government should fund part of its development costs. In addition, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) should grant permission for the free use of their road maps in this portal.
Recommendation 3: Tackle inconsiderate behaviour
There is an appalling lack of courtesy and consideration among many commuters. This contributes much of the unpleasantness of taking public transport, especially for less able-bodied people.
Some examples of discourteous behaviour include:
· Not giving up seats to the elderly, pregnant mothers or parents carrying infants;
· Rushing into the train without giving way to alighting passengers;
· Not moving to the centre of the carriage or the back of the bus;
· Leaning against grab poles, preventing others from holding on to them.
Although it is not the core business of public transport operators to teach commuters manners, inculcating a culture of courtesy among commuters could help to make the ride much more enjoyable.
Many commuters do not seem to be aware that they are obliged to abide by certain unofficial rules. For example, the sign located above the corner seats on the MRT, Please give up this seat to someone who needs it more than you, is ambiguous and comes across as more of a suggestion than a requirement. It is not surprising that many passengers find it perfectly acceptable to fall asleep (or pretend to do so) on those seats and not give up their seats even if a heavily-pregnant woman is standing in front of them.
The approach of the public transport companies ought then to be
i. Making clear to commuters the behaviour expected of them;
ii. Feed societal pressure to encourage good behaviour;
iii. Work with the Ministry of Education in implementing a social graces programme in schools .
A list of suggestions on how to do this is in the annex at the end of this article.
Recommendation 4: Introduce genuine competition into public transport
SMRT and SBST form a duopoly over public transport in Singapore. Not only do they control both the bus and rail networks, they control the taxi fleet as well. The rationale for the governments decision to privatise public transport was to reduce costs to the government and to promote greater efficiency brought about by market pressures.
However, market pressures only work if there is genuine competition. This cannot happen when there are only two players in the market.
The recent move by the government to introduce a tendering system for bus routes is sound in principle. However, unless more independent bus operators are allowed to enter the market, the tendering exercises will serve only as window dressing for the same oligopoly.
The governments concern about allowing more entrants is that it would impede its efforts to have an integrated bus and rail network. This can be addressed by establishing a common set of standards that different operators are obliged to adhere to. For example, ezlink card readers should be installed on all buses, regardless of operator, and these readers must be able to calculate transfer fare reductions. With the LTA taking over the centralised planning of public transport routes, it would not take much more effort to plan for more than two bus companies to cover all the necessary routes in Singapore.
A similar bidding process should be implemented for MRT lines as well. As there are no other local companies with the expertise to run MRT lines other than SMRT and SBST, foreign operators should be allowed into the market to compete with the incumbents. Ultimately it will be commuters who will benefit from lower fares and better service.
Recommendation 5: Appoint only officials who are accountable to Singaporeans to the PTC
The Public Transport Committee (PTC) is seen, rightly or wrongly, by many Singaporeans as a rubber stamp committee which only executes the wishes of the public transport companies.
It would be better to appoint to the PTC land transport professionals (e.g., LTA officials) and elected Members of Parliament from the two largest parties in Parliament. This will ensure that the PTC is both cognisant with the technical complexities of public transport, sensitive to the needs of the people and accountable to them.
While few will deny that Singapores public transport system is above average compared to most of the world, there is still much room for improvement if we are to achieve the aim of making it an attractive alternative to driving.
Transport companies need to pay closer attention to comfort and convenience on public transport, and the government has a responsibility to ensure that there is sufficient competition so as to keep prices affordable. Having an affordable, efficient and comfortable public transport system will increase the quality of life for millions of Singaporeans, while easing the congestion on our roads.
Listed in the Annex is a summary of the above-mentioned points as well as further suggestions on how public transport companies can address the problems faced by commuters.
SUMMARY OF PROBLEMS AND SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS
1 Overcrowded MRT trains and buses
· Increase frequency of MRT trains and buses.
· Lengthen the peak hour timings.
2. Jerky and uncomfortable rides on buses.
· Provide training for bus drivers to start and stop their vehicles more smoothly.
3 Above-ground MRT station platforms hot and uncomfortable during daytime.
· Install fans at all outdoor MRT station platforms.
· Ensure that soon-to-be-installed platform screen doors allow wind to pass through.
4 Passengers not giving up their seats to elderly/disabled
· Clearly demarcate seats designated for the elderly or disabled.
· Paint these seats a different colour.
· Place unambiguous signs at eye level (for seated passengers) instructing not merely suggesting that they give up their seats.
· For example:
For the elderly, disabled, pregnant women or parents carrying infants
· Work with schools to organise educational behind the scenes tours of the MRT, and teach students the virtue of considerate behaviour from a young age, encouraging them to lead others in following their example.
5 Passengers (esp. teenagers) playing music aloud on the trains and buses.
· Have signs indicating that playing music aloud is banned. This is also implemented in the Tokyo metro.
6 Passengers not allowing others to alight from trains before boarding. Cutting in front of those considerate enough to allow others to alight first.
· Paint queue lines outside train doors requiring passengers to queue while waiting to board. Tokyo metro stations have these queue lines.
7 Poor trip-planning facilities
· Develop a harmonized bus and MRT trip-planning e-portal.
8 Lack of connectivity between MRT train lines and bus routes
· Situate bus stops closer to MRT stations.
· Post bus guides at MRT stations so commuters know which bus stop to head to and in which direction.
9 Lack of genuine competition, leading to ever increasing prices
· Introduce genuine competition by allowing more players in the market.
10 Lack of public accountability of public transport regulators
· Appoint to the PTC only LTA officials and elected MPs from the Government and Opposition who are accountable to the electorate.
11 High operating costs for SMRT and SBST, leading to increases in fares.
· LTA to allow more space for advertising in MRT stations and bus interchanges.
· Space on MRT station walls is not being fully utilised for advertising.
· SMRTs Tunnel TV is an innovative way to provide more space for advertisers in MRT tunnels. This should be expanded upon.
Posted: 11/09/2008 9:44 am Post subject: PTW Week: World class service?‏
PTW Week: World class service? by Andrew Loh
The Onelien Citizen - 9 September 2008
Tuesday, 9 September 2008, 7:58 pm | 322 views
Service people, passion and purpose. These are what will make our transport system world class.
Andrew Loh / Deputy Editor
The focus point for TOC's Public Transport Week is the idea of a world class transport system. This is the aim of the Government, as declared by ministers and the prime minister himself.
Thus, it is by this standard that we should judge and scrutinize the issue.
To be fair, over the years the Government has announced plans designed to achieve this focusing its effort on infrastructure improvements to give better access to trains and buses. These include expanding the rail network, constructing the Circle Line and the Downtown Line, integrating bus interchanges with shopping malls and introducing the bus lanes idea.
It has also allowed bus services to run parallel to MRT lines, punishing transport companies with heftier fines for non-compliance with certain service standards, having the Land Transport Authority take over as the central bus planner from 2009, and increasing bus and train frequencies, among many other measures.
Thus, it is hard to fault the Government and accuse it of being oblivious to the needs and problems faced by commuters. Indeed, the Government should be commended for its effort. So, why aren't Singaporeans jumping with joy but instead seem to have even more complaints?
One reason could be that dissatisfaction is actually with the transport companies and not with the Government but because the Government is so invested in the issue that Singaporeans, perhaps, feel they are one and the same. This is, of course, not without good reasons, as we shall see in Thursday's article here on TOC.
There are many areas where Singaporeans feel service is nowhere near world class. Anyone who uses public transport will tell you about the over-crowding, the jam-packed trains which now appears to extend beyond peak hours, the long waiting periods for buses in certain areas of Singapore, the difficulties handicapped people face, especially in taking buses, dirty and stuffy buses especially when it rains and even complaints about how children above a certain height are being discriminated against when they use public transport. Indeed, there are many grouses. My personal beef is with TV Mobile which I find to be a total and utter nuisance! I wish they'd just pull the plug on that damn thing!
And the biggest complaint and source of endless frustration throughout the years has been the ever-increasing fares which run parallel to the ever-increasing (record) profits of the service providers.
Though some of the above complaints or unhappiness may seem trivial or even petty, one must remember that it is the daily experience of each individual commuter which will determine if the system is world class. The shiniest trains or buses and the expert engineering which goes into constructing the stations and interchanges do not necessarily make the system one.
This is where the Government and transport companies should pay more attention in the level and quality of service of public transport. It is no use to keep repeating that we aim to be the best in the world in ferrying people from Point A to Point B, or to say that transport companies need to make profits in order to stay afloat. Every Singaporean already knows that. What they're looking for is better service.
While infrastructure is indisputably important, service is perhaps what will assuage the anger and frustration of commuters when they experience the shortcomings of public transport in their daily commute.
For example: to take a bus at night and then have the frustration of trying to determine where you are by looking through the glass windows or panels which are plastered with advertisements obscuring your vision. TOC reader Kiss Dani wrote to us about this. "These screens limit what we can see from inside the busses. Imagine looking out for block numbers through these screens," he said. "Often, I have missed stops because of them."
It is experiences like this which makes commuters view the transport companies as money-sucking monsters blindly chasing profits and blinding commuters in the process. If customers were treated as valued clients, the first thing the management would do is to see how such placement of advertisements would affect its customers.
It is in the daily experience of each individual commuter which determines if the system is world class.
Put people first - always
So, how can service be improved? Well, it must start with the recognition that each individual is a treasured customer and not a lemming which needs to be carried from one spot to another in the shortest possible time. The importance is in the experience of the journey and not in how short the journey should be per se (which seems to be the pre-occupation of the authorities), though that is also desirable, of course.
Here are a few suggestions, made with the perspective that each commuter is a treasured customer, which perhaps can be considered in this respect. Lets start with those who face the most difficulties in using public transport children, elderly, and the handicapped.
- Allow children who aren't of school-going age to travel for free and not base their fares on how tall or short they are.
- Remove the concession conditions for the elderly to travel at all times of the day, instead of limiting them to certain hours in order to enjoy concession. Isn't our government encouraging Singaporeans to work as long as they can and till as old as they are? In any case, limiting our elderly to certain hours of travel if they're on concession smacks of disrespect, really. Especially when we are an ageing population.
- Install hydraulic ramps or platforms for handicapped persons to board buses easily. Some countries already do this, I understand. London, for example.
- Remove advertisements on the glass panels of buses. It obscures one's vision, especially at night.
- Remove TV Mobile so that commuters can travel in peace in the morning and have some peace after a day's work at the office.
- Have station staff provide a hand to elderly people when it rains or when a train breaks down for a long time or when something unexpected happens. Ask them if they need help and see to their needs. Lets see some real faces in our stations.
- Have train drivers greet commuters over the speakers in the morning and evening. This could be done in the station as well, over the speakers. It costs nothing.
- (This is one which I personally hope will be implemented.) The Public Transport Council will either open its deliberations or minutes of its meeting to the public OR hold free public forums for members of the public to voice their opinions before increasing fares! Why are all PTC deliberations so secretive? Where is the people's voice in all of it? Does the PTC value Singaporeans and their opinion?
At the end of the day, treating commuters as treasured customers (which they are and should be viewed as) is what makes the system world class. Just ask Singapore Airlines. There must be a genuine interest in wanting to do so. Service through artificial gimmicks, such as giving away discount breakfast (the real aim: to alleviate the over-crowding in the early hours), makes one feel cheap and even cheated. ("If they have so much money to give out free or discounted breakfast sets, why the need to increase fares?" a friend asked me.) Not a treasured customer at all.
People. Passion. Purpose.
Treat people as valued clients or customers.
Staff, especially the top people in the companies, must have a passion for genuine service.
Transport companies must realize that their purpose is public service and not reaping profits from the public.
The 3 P's : Providing genuine service to people as their main purpose and passion, our transport companies will gain much public praise.
Only then will they be truly world class.
So, my message to Mr Gerard Ee, Chairman of the PTC, is that it is not a matter of whether the fare increase is 3% or 1.8% or that "it is still affordable". It is a question of whether the transport companies' service standards justify any increase at all!
Mr Ee and the PTC should ask themselves if the service commuters experience daily is world class before they approve another round of hikes with the usual dismissive "it is still affordable" routine come October 1st.
The PTC too should remember that it should serve people first.
Responses to "PTW Week: World class service?"
1)Vacuum State on September 9th, 2008 8.42 pm
Can we make it compulsory that all the members of the PTC take public transport twice a week? Once during the weekday, another during weekends.
If they refused, they are removed from the PTC.
Can we extend this to the Ministers and senior bureucrats?
2)Victor on September 9th, 2008 9.01 pm
now only 4.something million,already so much pp STill want to be until 6million pp stay in sing..
is it CRAZY???
hai THEY JUST don understanding our feeling .
vote is impt,vote will awake them,,
3)6.5 mill to swallow on September 9th, 2008 9.40 pm
To be bluntly blunt, with currently number of people in spore, I am already feeling overcrowded.
Let action speak louder than words :
Have you been to :
1. PC Show?
2. Used our roads each morning , evening?
3. Go to Orchard Road?
Just open your eyes, and take a look.
Enjoy more good years.
Sometime say Swiss standard, othertimes say Sweden Standard.
Is your pay 1st world?
I see that many hdb playground exercise equipment imported from China.
I also see China's housing have excellent exercise equipment for its people.
Spore, please catch up. 1st world leh.
Coincidentally, China only woken up about a couple of decades only. Younger than spore. Look at China. Wonderful.
4)Turtle on September 9th, 2008 11.28 pm
I actually take the train and a bus (a longer and more expensive route) to get to school because the direct bus service which plies the same route is plagued by TVMobile, lol. It's really stressful to listen to noise for an hour, twice daily.
5)Daniel on September 9th, 2008 11.39 pm
"Service people, passion and purpose. These are what will make our transport system world class."
But our gahmen think otherwise. Instead of 3p, they have 3m which they believe work for them yesterday, today and tomorrow.
"Service money, money and money. These are what will make our transport system world class."
Greed of money not only make transport world-class but also world-class kangaroo court and MonkeyPeople. Money can buy their conscience and moral authority.
6)Obamaosama on September 10th, 2008 12.31 am
I do not blame the govt for the lousy transport service but it is the uselss two companies running the business like shit and still want to make money with no intention of offering value to the commuters. I personally emailed feedbacks but got delayed reluctant response. Here are some hopeless and good for nothing service now in existence. (1) Bus Captains reaching bus stop suddenly often apply brake and let go and everybody standing willl be off balance or accidentally make contact with others. Female commuters would be disadvantaged and you know what I mean..(?).Unintentionally touched !
When the packed like sardines trains arrived at the station, commuters cannot see the station signboard because they are blocked with bodies..left..right..and front or back. You must open your ears and listen to the announcements but in a situation where body contact is easier done than said, you are on the look out to avoid being cheapened. The announcements of the next station are made only when the trains moves away or nearing.
While cant we have small lighted stations blink- lighted above the door or mid-section as they do so with similar trains in Hong Kong ! Sacrifice one or two advertisements revenue to provide better service. I once wrote feedback about Busés and received an email about SMRT fare. My reply to it was "the staff is barking up the wrong tree ! " I have given up providing feedbacks with such idiotic professionals working in the public transport supplier.
There is a phrase which people love to say ."Let them hand themselves lah"
Vote for PAPaya but not Our Transport System.
For Singaporeans who think theirs is the best in Asia outside Japan, think again,
TAIPEI'S CITY Hall is so proud of its mass rapid transit (MRT) system that it runs a competition every year, asking people to send in poems about the MRT. I can see why.
The MRT is clean and comfortable (in addition to chewing gum, the nasty habit of betel chewing nut has been banned).
People queue up in a civilised fashion before boarding trains. And, when the doors open, they don't barge in before passengers can exit.
Signs and announcements are in Chinese and English and all carriages have electronic displays showing which station is coming up next.
Every carriage has special seats for old folks, pregnant women or people with disabilities. I've never seen fit, young people pretending to be asleep in these seats.
However, the best part about Taipei's MRT is its frequency.
According to Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC), the company that runs the system, trains arrive at two to four-minute intervals at peak hours. Off-peak, it is four to seven minutes.
In reality, it is much more frequent. I know because I've timed it. At peak hours, trains come as often as every minute.
As for off-peak hours? Well, I've never had to wait more than three or four minutes. As a result, even during the morning rush hour, the trains are never as packed as they are in Singapore.
TRTC has won praise not just locally but internationally. It has been ranked No 1 for reliability for four straight years (2004 to 2007), according to the Nova/CoMET International Railway Benchmarking Group (of which Singapore's SMRT Corp is also part).
All this got me wondering just how TRTC is able to deliver such a world-class MRT service.
Perhaps, it doesn't have to transport as many people as in the crowded Lion City? Perhaps, it's government-owned and isn't under pressure to make as much money as possible and can run more trains?
So, I pulled up some numbers (see table below). And the broad conclusion is that Taipei proves it is possible to offer a high-quality, high-frequency and affordable MRT service without losing money.
Tracking the MRTs
Singapore population: 4.6m
Length of MRT: 109.4km
No. of MRT stations: 66
No of MRT lines: five
Average daily ridership: 1.56m
Average ticket price: S$1.00
Average trip distance: 11.2km
Total passenger-trip distance
(passengers times km traveled) annually: 5,714.5km
Average daily train runs: Just over 1,000
Taipei population: 5.5m
Length of MRT: 74.7km
No. of MRT stations: 69
No of MRT lines: eight
Average daily ridership: 1.14m
Average ticket price: NT21.9 (S$1.00)
Average trip distance: 7.9km
Total passenger-trip distance
(passengers times km traveled) annually: 3,298.9km
Average daily train runs: 2,171
It also suggests that certain services, such as public transport, tend to function optimally as natural monopolies and ought not to be owned by companies that seek to maximise profits.
Let's look first at the one common element between the two: the cost of taking a train.
Average ticket prices in Singapore and Taipei are about $1. This is pretty low by international
standards, as anyone who has had the misfortune to take the London Underground knows.
Singapore and Taipei are also pretty dense cities, but the latter packs more folks (5.5m of them) into a smaller area (272 sq km). In comparison, Singapore is home to 4.6m residents spread over some 692 sq km.
As such, in terms of coverage, Singapore's network of five MRT lines is more extensive, totalling 109.4km, versus TRTC's 74.4km network.
However, TRTC has more stations on its smaller network, which means less distance between stations and greater convenience for commuters.
More trains in Taipei
Just how many people take the MRT each day? In 2007, Singapore's MRT moved an average of 1.56 million people a day. That's just over a third more than what TRTC transported last year. So yes, TRTC's network is smaller and it moves fewer people, which is one reason it feels les crowded.
However, what is illuminating is the difference in frequency. Last year, TRTC made an average of 2,171 train runs a day.
SMRT clocked in at just over 1,000 a day for its fiscal year ended March 2008. This is not strictly an apples-with-apples comparison.
SMRT's system is older, has heavier loads and travels further than TRTC's factors which play role in how often trains can be run.
The comparison also doesn't include data from SBS Transit, which runs the North- East Line. But, as SMRT accounts for more than four fifths of total MRT ridership, it is fairly representative of the whole picture.
Since February this year, SMRT has added about 900 extra train trips each week.
According to the company, on average, its train frequency during peak hours is between two and five minutes.
During off-peak hours, it is now between 3.5 and seven minutes. Given the existing signalling system and infrastructure, its average peak-hour frequency puts it among the top 20% of the world's major metro operators, SMRT adds.
SMRT more profitable
Still, it's safe to assume that its bumped-up frequency continues to lag TRTC's. And this, to an extent, is reflected in SMRT's bottom-line, which is much heftier than TRTC's.
In FY2008, SMRT's rail operations saw revenue of $436.9m. Earnings before interest and tax was $129.3m.
In comparison, TRTC saw approximately $415 million in fare revenue in 2007 and just $41.3m in pre-tax profit.
TRTC is 73.75% owned by the Taipei City Government. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications owns a further 17.14% while the Taipei County Government owns 8.75%.
Clearly, public-listed SMRT's returns on its rail operations are far better for its shareholders than TRTC's.
However, TRTC which has been profitable every year except its first two is better for its
commuters, who have been inspired to pen a poem or two in praise of their well-regarded metro.
(Sunita Sue Leng, previously an associate editor at The Edge Singapore, is now based in Taipei and writes on Greater China issues).
Last edited by Wisarut on 20/01/2010 11:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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