The public transport companies have been increasing their fees steadily over the years, in response to the rising price of oil and the overall rising cost of labour. Or at least, that is what they claim. However, service standards such as train frequencies have in fact dropped, as Mr Goh Meng Seng, a member of the National Solidarity Party, explains in the following article.

By Goh Meng Seng
23 Jan 2010

The following is a Table compiled to show the contrast of population growth vs MRT development.

(Data compiled from Table 3.1 of the Yearbook of Statistics 2009 and SMRT Annual Report 2007/2008)

From the table above, we can gather the following facts (from 2003 to 2008 as the population figures for 2009 is not available yet):

Total Population Growth 17.6%

Resident Population Growth 8.2%

SMRT Total Number of Passenger Trips (Million) Growth 19.0%

SMRT Car Kilometres Operated (Million) Growth -13.0%

SMRT Average Operating Car Occupancy Rate Growth 35%

What do the above statistics tell us?

It is quite puzzling to me actually. The public transport companies like SMRT has been increasing their fares for the past 7 years but it seems that their service standards have dropped with respect to the population growth.

It is very disturbing to note that while demand on MRT has increased steadily for the pass 7 years (We are unable to get the 2009 figures for population growth yet) in tandem with the increase in population growth, SMRT has actually DECREASE their train service frequencies by as much as 13%!

An increase of 19% of demand couple with a decrease in supply of 13% will naturally result in packing the MRT cabins with more people! This is reflected in the increase of occupancy rate from 56 persons in a carriage to 76!

It means that on average, Singaporeans will find the MRT 35% more crowded than 2003! I guess the LTA is sleeping on this development while agreeing to PTC and public transport companies’ demand in increasing their fares!

I hope this is not another “Caught Off Guard” situation for the Ministry of Transport as it is for Ministry of National Development. Someone up there have to be accountable for mismanaging the whole situation for Singapore.

WP NCMP Sylvia Lim has categorically questioned the PAP government on whether they are doing enough to cater to their aggressive FT policy which has artificially increase the population by 17.6% from 2003 to 2008.

Yet, the PAP has continued to sleep on this important issue. We have seen how Ministry of National Development under Mah Bow Tan has totally mismanaged the housing needs in view of the expected increase of housing demand due to influx of FT. Now it seems that the Ministry of Transport has also totally mismanaged the transportation sector.

There is no silly excuse of “Caught Off Guard” as the opposition party has already raised the alarm as early as 2006! Singaporeans have to see clearly that we are paying TOP WORLD CLASS salaries for these ministers but yet, we are having them mismanaging the situation here.

The Ministry of Transport and LTA are only concerned about setting up more ERPs all over Singapore because that is the SACRED CASH COWS that will make money. Who cares about the general welfare of Singaporeans in squeezing in MRTs and Buses (yes, I believe we can show the same inadequacy if we build the statistical table for buses) everyday due to their mismanagement. The Ministers have hardly experience the frustrations of normal Singaporeans who take public transport daily. The MRT train frequency is really third world standards!

It is about time Singaporeans should give PAP the wake up call! Vote the respective ministers out, give a clear signal to the PAP government that we want accountability!

We want ministers who put Singaporeans’ welfare as their top priority, not how much money their ministries could save or make as their top priorities.

If the above analysis is not convincing enough for you, then please take a look at the following table:


For the period from 2003 to 2008, SMRT profits have increased 107.9% from $72.1m to $149.9m!

What does this mean. There is an increase in demand, increase in fare but SMRT continues to reduce supply by a drastic reduction in 2004. While the demand continues to increase, it suppressed the corresponding supply while continued its demand of fare increase. The so call “improve in services” is just lip service. Service standards has dropped while SMRT just let the trains get more cramp!

LTA under the Ministry of Transport, kept both of its eyes closed for all this while! This is totally unacceptable for a world class government with top pay! It seems that our PAP government only takes good care of corporate profits while neglecting the welfare of Singaporeans, allowing them to be reaped off by suffering sub standard services with increased prices.

Do we continue to let them be or give them a wake up call? The choice is yours.

Goh Meng Seng

* I have added the figures of the SMRT side without the figures of population data here. The increase in the car operated per kilometer is partly due to the opening of circle line. This means that frequency of trains in other older lines might not have improved at all. Besides, this is offset by the increase in the demand, partly due to the increase in population (estimated about 3% plus if total population is to reach 4.99 million). As the result, the occupancy rate is just about the same. This result doesn’t change the main point that since 2003, the trains are getting very cramped, about 35% cramped.

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