Take me for a ride, NSP…

… and I mean it in the nicest way!

Amidst all the yada-yadaing about our transport system — with a few million $ promised to be spent here and another few hundred million $ there over X number of years — only NSP or the National Solidarity Party has come out with some suggestions that tap right into my heart.

I am referring to NSP secretary-general Hazel Poa’s suggestion (see below) to let market forces decide fares. In particular, what resonates most with me is her idea of a licensing scheme where any bus operator, regardless of size, would be free to register to ply any route. Duplication of routes – either between bus companies or between a bus and an MRT route – would be permitted, and bus firms may propose their own routes.

That’s the most refreshing proposal in a long long time and may it one day materialise! Never mind if naysayers stuck in yesterday’s notion of competition warn of cherry picking and that unpopular routes won’t be served or be very costly.

Cherry pick? Haha, if every operator cherry picks the popular routes then no one would make any money. Some would quit; others would turn to less popular routes to survive or carve out a market for themselves.

Market forces will prevail!

I say this with some self interest. I live on a road where for the longest time I’ve had a North-South line station just two bus stops away but have used it a dozen times in the last 15 years as to get there, I’ve not only to catch a bus but also to cross an overhead bridge that spans six traffic lanes plus a river.

Soon, there will be a Downtown line station also two bus stops away in the opposite direction. There are many buses from outside my home leading to the new station and I should have no problem using the new station to get into Orchard Road and elsewhere, unlike the North South line station.

But returning home is another story. There is just one bus outside the North South line station that goes past my home and this particular bus runs on a time-table that’s whimsically unreliable.

Now if the NSP proposals gain traction, with more innovative and responsive bus services, I should be able to use the North South line station too. Which in effect means overall I will use public transport more!

One last thought: since the government doesn’t regulate the price of rice, bread, sugar, petrol, health care or even property prices — preferring market mechanisms and subsidies — why not free our transport system too, and provide a safety net only for those who can’t afford to pay?
PS: Just in case anyone reading this thinks me unreasonable to expect many bus services to run past my home, let me say I don’t live in Henry Park (where there are actually many services!) but on the main trunk road that divides Singapore from north to south! :lol:

PUBLIC TRANSPORT DEBATE

NSP calls for more competition in sector

Public best served by letting market forces dictate fares, it says

By Elgin Toh

TAKING a diametrically opposed position from the Workers’ Party (WP) and dismissing the Government’s stand, the National Solidarity Party (NSP) yesterday called for more competition in the provision of public transport.

NSP secretary-general Hazel Poa said in a statement that as ‘undersupply’ was the crux of the current problem, plans by the People’s Action Party (PAP) government and the WP would ‘fall short of commuters’ needs’.

Reorganising bus and MRT services so operators must constantly look out for competitors would instead best serve the public interest, she said.

‘Let market forces determine the supply and set the fares,’ she said in a statement.

On buses, the NSP called for a licensing scheme where any operator, regardless of size, would be free to register to ply any route.

Duplication of routes – either between bus companies or between a bus and an MRT route – would be permitted, and bus firms may propose their own routes.

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