Jun 18, 2008

Up, Up And Away - The ERP Takes Off

Two years ago, I wrote a post entitled Money & Material Things. I mentioned then that I lived in a HDB flat, did not own a car and did not plan to.

Two years later, I still live in the same HDB flat, still do not own a car and still do not plan to. Relatives have given up asking me why Mrs Wang and I, two quite successful & established professionals, do not even aspire to move to a condo or own a humble secondhand car (Mrs Wang is a lawyer).

There are a few reasons. One is that a car is largely unnecessary to our lifestyle. Our HDB flat is two minutes away from an MRT station, which is extremely convenient. Also, the nature of our professional backgrounds means that our offices will almost certainly be in the CBD, and it is quicker for us to get to the CBD by train than by car. Furthermore CBD driving has its own problems, including higher parking costs, heavy road traffic and ERP costs.

Another reason why we don't want to own a car is that in Singapore, car ownership just makes you a rather easy victim for the government's Pay-&-Pay policies.
ST June 17, 2008
ERP charges up at 32 CBD gantries from July 7
Five more new gantries coming up along Singapore River
By Maria Almenoar

THE roads are getting pricier from July 7. Five new gantries, forming a cordon along the Singapore River Line, will go live to regulate the evening traffic flow from 6pm to 8pm, bringing the total number of gantries to 65.

In what is seen as the most extensive revision of Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) here since its implementation 10 years ago, another 32 gantries in the Central Business District (CBD), including those around Orchard Road, will also have their charges increased.

Rates are being revised mostly during the evening time slots because speeds have fallen steadily during the home-rush hours.

The Government is going to fix this by doing three things.

The biggest change is that if you pay, you will get to enjoy a smooth flowing ride - which is not always the case now.

Motorists can expect to pay as much as $1 more at existing gantries and $2 at new gantries ....
The above changes are going to cause some loud howls of protest among the public, considering the price of oil nowadays and the inflation situation. Actually, if you had plans to destabilise our society, raising fees at 32 ERP gantries would be a positive first step in the right direction.

(P.S That was just my way of saying that the Transport Minister has a very bad sense of timing. But since I do not drive, I shall not comment any further. Car-driving readers may now proceed to the comment section of my blog).

(P.P.S I invite my driver-readers to share some details of their lifestyle (for example, how often they drive, and from where to where) and also how much they spend on car-related expenses. It might be interesting for such readers to compare notes).


Anonymous said...

My wife and I used to stay in one of the western subburbs. We used to spend about $60 in ERP, $120 in parking (near Bugis), and about $200 in petrol per month in our 1st year of marriage. About last year, we when our office locations changed, our parking rose to almost $300 a month and petrol to about $250. And the roads were getting more and more crowded. We figured it made sense to move nearer town and an MRT station, so now we're spending only about $80 in MRT fees. It takes about 10 minutes to get to town by MRT, rather than about 20 minutes in a taxi, which cost maybe 15 times as much. Glad I'm no longer driving into town! No more jams and other commuting madness.

Anonymous said...

So they want to ensure a smoother ride, and yet yesterday's Today paper said that SMRT was reporting another record increase in the number of commuters.

So either both car drivers *and* public commuters have increased or...what gives?

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

That would hardly be surprising, Alvin. To achieve such an effect on our little island, you basically just have to induce a big influx of foreigners. They could come as nurses, bankers, teachers, IT professionals, study mamas, doctors, undergrads, secondary school students, hawker centre beergirls etc. If public infratructure isn't properly expanded to cope, well, the problems begin to show.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wang, this Leegime has got away with almost everything they forced onto Singaporeans for 50 years ( since Jun 1959). Even if they lose in the polls, they have a plan to stay in power - call in the Military as per Lee Kuan Yew's public speech. So they don't give a dam about what Singaporeans think, so long as THEY think that's the way to go. Singaporeans should seriously ask themselves how they have dealth themselves into this little corner.

Anonymous said...

The suggestion that if you pay you will get to enjoy a smoother ride may or may not come true. Just as past experience shows, upping ERP for road A creates another congestion on road B, and upping ERP for road B drives motorist back to road A. It is a never ending situation and the one laughing with glee will be the toll operators.

Anonymous said...

ermm, call in the military sounds hardcore. In terms of being a driver, I was enticed into buying a car due to convenience and ease of driving to work, not need to take bus, train, bus before reaching office.
But with the increase in ERP, petrol, etc, I have no choice but to leave my car at home and commuting via public transport daily. The extreme volume of people squeezing in the train and breakdown of train services are not in line with the increased in charges.

Anonymous said...

You will now enjoy the dignity of travailing on a world class public transport system.


You will now enjoy the benefit of paying ERP.

Either way, they win.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

One potential solution that remains largely unexplored in Singapore is flexible working arrangements.

For example, if more employees are able to work from home, say, one day or three half-days per week, this could significantly lessen road traffic and the pressure on the public transport system.

Nowadays, many CBD companies have already outsourced some part of their everday operations all the way to some department located in Mumbai, India. It's entirely plausible that a Singapore-based employee doesn't have to come to Shenton Way to do his work, but could do his work from his home in Ang Mo Kio or Tampines.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, I have some observations on why the roads are so conjested. Actually, all they have to do is compare the road images for Chinese New Year (while many of us are overseas, even more of us are driving, and the red plates are out in force) and the normal days.

I will not give my direct observations, let can earn their own pay without us telling them what is so wrong.

And it's got NOTHING to do with ERP.

Anonymous said...

i agree on the flexible working arrangement.

there is a limit to how much improvement to the public transportation after taking into consideration the influx of foreigners and land size.

having flexible working hours or working from home might increase productivity and provide cost benefits too. it is also family friendly.

Anonymous said...

This is not the end yet. I have been travelling around the island. They have prepared additional ERP gantries on some open roads for future activations.

I have also noticed that the entries and exits of the newly developed KPE's operational (and soon-to-be operational) tunnels have ERP gantries.

It can be 100% or 110% assured that they will be activated. Now, let's see how they spin their tales to justify the charging of fees for the KPE tunnels. It will be the traffic congestion, blah, blah, blah. But, it is likely to recover the costs of building KPE.

So much for the budget surplus.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments on flexible working conditions Mr Wang.


...employers should be encouraged to accept the Soho (small office, home office) concept, to reduce the worsening peak-hour traffic jams. Knowledge workers — the source of Singapore's value-add labour force of tomorrow — can apply their knowledge for work, without being in the office.

And in another source, employers in US are looking towards more "work from home" arrangements to defray the demand for higher salaries in compensation for the higher fuel costs of travelling to and from work.

BUT Mr Wang, did you not already realised that the Singapore bosses are stuck in time warp, where in the 1970s, you must see your workers to justify your pay. Doesn't matter that it was a factory line those many years ago, and internet was unheard of, while telephony was a priviledge for the rich only.

You see, while asking the workers to adapt, our wonderous scholars forgot to turn the mental models of bosses, whom they themselves belong to!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wang,

Even you don't own a car ERP will affect you indirectly. Not only ERP stand for Everay Rob People.Once ERP is up, it will pass it to all of us more or less...

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wang

Even you don't own car. All of us will pay for ERP.Only Car owner pay more but you pay less.. because ERP cause the transport fee go up and it will trigger the transport fee good need transport to be move form A to B. ERP also mean Everyday Rob People...

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,
All of us will need to pay for ERP. Car owner pay more but you pay less.

WhiteDusk said...

Frankly speaking, how many times do we see the lady from HR or those pretty girls from AR/AP? Once a month or twice a year? They can always be based in areas like Tampines or Jurong. 1) The company saves on rental. 2) Workers can avoid the CBD area. I'm sure with e-mails/faxes/telephone/Skype, it will not be a problem to function efficiently.

If I remember correctly, the roads leading to the city on the ECP can be deadstill while the ones on the opposite side can be empty. But thats 3 years ago, not really sure if that applies these days.

Anonymous said...

I learnt what is ERP from a taxi-driver..

Everyday Rob People! ah!

Anonymous said...

Just a few comments on car ownership and some of my experience:

(1) most people really do not need a private car for their work or leisure. This is a small island with a well developed transport system, so alternatives are available. Those who do not think so have their reasons. For those who CHOOSE to have a car, they will need to justify the cost vs benefit.

(2) Private car ownership in other countries can be higher than in Singapore. Of course, with COE, the cost of buying a car in Singapore is the highest in the world. But other things, such as finding a place to park can be very, very expensive overseas in developed major cities. My sister in Manhatten, NY, has to buy a space in a building away from her apartment to park her car. That is why many people in NY city itself do not own cars. They walk and take the subway.

(3) Me and my wife each drive a car. We need it for work as both of us travel extensively during office hours and even non-office hours. The benefit and time saved is worth the cost.

However, I feel that if you work in the city and meet people mainly in the city, it may be faster and cheaper to take public transport or taxis. The cost of the various ERPS and parking and also time needed to find a parking spot is usually quite high. MRT in the city is actually very good.

When I travel to the city, esp for a conference, I would usually consider taking public transport -- mainly MRT. The main reason is simply cost. I can spend $20-30 per day just in parking fees in the city, and the parking can be hard to find in some places, eg Suntec City.

This is quite common. Lawyers and accountants in big firms take taxis to meet their clients for the same reason (and also because they can bill their clients).

(4) One big bill in owning cars is in the purchasing of the vehicle. Most people feel that the vehicle should match one's status.

I don't agree. The vehicle should simply get you from point A to B. How your car looks is only important if you operate a limosine service.

For that reason, I drive a van -- lower COE, lower depreciation cost, and the cost of the van and its maintenance is tax deductible. (Private car cost and maintanence cost is not tax deductible.)

Frankly, I don't really care how I appear driving a van. So this idea works for me.

Vans typically cost about half the price of a small size sedan.

Oh and to stay in topic, vans have lower ERP fees.

(5) The only time I seriously considered ditching my van for a nice car was when I was thinking of getting a hybrid. Unfortunately, at that time, the only hydrogen refuelling station was in Tuas (as I remembered), which is very very, very far from my place near the airport. So I figured the cost and pollution from trips to tuas just to refuel the car is not worth it. I was then quite willing to pay more than 100K to get a hybrid.

(7) One advantage of driving a van is this: it saves fuel. Vans do not have back seat and a lot of other trimmings and a small van is quite light. I typically get 10km for every litre of petrol I use. My wife, who drives an MPV cos she wants it, gets about 7-8km per litre.

In other words, if you want to save on petrol, get a light car/van.

(8) If you spend most of your time travelling alone and needs a motor vehicle, consider a motorcycle. That was my first choice years ago but my wife vetoed the idea for "safety" reasons.

Years ago, motorcycle has zero COE. Now I think it is just around the thousand range. And because it is light, it uses less fuel. Plus if you work in the city, it is easier to get around.

And of course, motorcycles have lower ERP fees.

(9) I always feel that the bicycle is a good alternative if you have no cargo to carry to work. yaya, I know the weather, the accident rate etc. But if you want you can get it to work for you.

And of course, bicycles have no ERP fees...... yet (???).

(10) I did consider taking taxis more instead of driving about a year ago. Taxis still cost more then due to my frequent travels. However, if you only use a car to go to work and back, plus the occassion weekend outing, taxis then can be cheaper, based on my calculations.

Then came the taxi fee revision and the cost of taxis exploded. I now do not think that taxis are a viable replacement even for those who just take them back and forth work (unless your workplace is very near your home and the taxi cost is low due to the short distance travelled).

(11) Many years ago, ERP is effective in getting me to plan round it to avoid the fees.

I no longer do so. This is mainly because there are too many ERP gantries and it is a bit hard to plan your entire travelling live round them. I need to get from A to B quickly and I do not want to be lab rat spending time trying to figure a way out of a maze.

In other words, ERP in the past was effective in reducing my usage of the affected roads because there are only a few of them. When you increase the number of ERPs, people become numb to them as there are too many to remember and it is too troublesome. One simply gets used to the idea to paying and paying.

Now, with so many ERPs, I couldn't care less as it is likely that I will meet an operating gantry and have to pay anyway. So I don't bother.

(12) My ballpark figures for the cost for maintaining a van (mind you just a van):

Monthly installment: 400+
Fuel: 400+
ERPs: 60-80
Insurance and taxes: 100+
Carpark fees: 200-300+
Repairs, inspection and maintenance: 200+

We are looking at more than $1500 per month.

If you intend to just spend 20% of your wages on travel, then you need to make something like $7500 per month before you can commit to a car.

(my cost is a bit higher as my van is old, and my travel is extensive. But if you buy a expensive car with a big engine, your cost will most like be higher).

Anonymous said...

There's really no justification to set up so many gantries within the CBD itself especially since they are situated closely together. Instead they could have resorted to increasing the per entry fee for the whole CBD district and keep monitoring the situation.

Why they did not resort to this really baffles me. The only reason I suspect is that the Gahmen is trying to skim off more money from vehicle owners because by passing multiple gantries per day, the average vehicle owner will now be paying more ERP fees

It's not as if the traffic jams within the CBD district are unbearable. In fact we drivers don't really mind a little bit of conjestion here and there.

I suppose it's time again for the concerned Ministers to spin some story for the increases.

To me, they appear to make very good liars.

Anonymous said...

Traffic congestion is one way to explain why ERP must continue to be increased. Just like not enough to retire is why they increase CPF minimum sum and delay the withdrawal and schemes like CPF Life. Or sky high pay needed to attract ministerial talent. Or big GRCs to safeguard minority race representation. You can think of more examples. This is the "kill 2 or more birds with one stone" strategy. They reason to you only 1 "bird", helped by "under their thumb" media. You have to figure out the other "bird(s)". Of course they use different types of "stones" as well. That's why many election walkovers and 66.6% mandate. Brilliant isn't it?

Anonymous said...

im a student 20yrs old and my dad wanted to buy me a BMW. however, i have discussed with my dad that i wouldnt want a car even though its a lovely sponsored asset.

main reasons, ranked:
1. petrol price. my dad pays $120 per week for Merc petrol.
i reckon BMV drinks petrol like water too.
2. hybrid kiosk is far away from home. i live in the central.
3. i would like to earn my own wages to pay for the car (personal philosophy)
4. ERP. we-all-know. why do gantries keep multiplyin anyway.
5. its quite frustrating to be caught in a jam
6. mrt is 10 mins walk away (its recently a heck of a squeeze though), great substitutue. bus stop is 1 min walk.
7. escalating car park fare, esp in orchard and yes, in hospitals too

bottomline: dont think i need it because public transport makes travelling pretty convenient.

however. personally im unhappy about the authorities constructing so many gantries. they have digressed from the main purpose of buildin ERP.
it first started with CBD (sigh i guess u guys will know already), to lesson the flow of traffic in congested areas. drivers do not travel to CBD areas unless necessary. but now its extended beyond CBD, in the name of congestion.
so, obviously with:
1. increase population on tiny island
2. people avoid gantry areas

bottle necks will be created somewhere else. duh

with our LTA concept of coping with congestion, i wouldnt really be surprised if our beloved island will eventually be entirely covered with gantries...

Ser Ming said...

It will be interesting to observe that there will be ERP from Ang Mo Kio to Bishan. Hah.

Anonymous said...

Taking the MRT isn't much better now.. so freaking crowded.. at 11pm at night!!

I can't imagine what would happen if the population swells to 6.5m

Anonymous said...

I do not mind taking public transport if
1. it is efficient
2. convenient
3. comfortable

Unfortunately, I do not find public transport in singapore
1. efficient
Not many people get to stay within walking distance of mrt. Most people have to take a feeder bus. Feeder bus frequency are pretty unpredictable (due to traffic conditions) and during peak hours can be shockingly packed...
A simple journey from the far eastern or western side of singapore to the city that took merely 30mins by car, can be manified to 1 to 1.5 hrs due to unpredictable waiting times.

2. convenient
getting better with more proposed MRT stations. Would be even better if more is done about 'long-winded' bus routes that goes round and round and round.

3. comfortable.
Comfort never equals MRT.
And frankly singapore MRT has no distinction between peak and non-peak. It is 'peak' the whole day!! all the way until the last train journey...(in particular, EW line and NS lines). It is 'scary' that even if you board the last train that departs from city hall every night, you must be quite lucky to be able to get a seat. And of course, there aren't that many seats left in MRT.
Pity the senior citizens who do not live near the city area. Most of the time have to stand all the way to the last few stations.
They are probably better off taking the 'long-winded' buses. At least if board the bus at the right place can sit and rest.
And BTW news reports always say Japan has very packed trains during peak hours etc, that's fair enough, and the norm for many places. But is it 'peak' the whole day? I doubt so.

Perhaps our constant 'peak' condition is caused by the very significant increase in train waiting times during what MRT perceived as non-peak hours. This thus creates a generally consistent number of passengers per train journey at all times.
Thus the unsual phenomena of 'peak' until the last train of the day.

Anonymous said...

Complain also no use wan la.
Every year in and year out, sure vote in PAP wan la.
ERP = Every Road Pay.
Drivers in Singapore damm sway.
Citizens in Singapore even more sway kwan, always vote in the PAP and they just suck all the money from your blood.

Can vote in Opposition meh?
Where got da power?
The Sin City is already re-engineered to be totally reliant on the Lee family policies and the ministers (extended family).
Ma-ta versue ah-beng? Ma-ta wu cheng (got gun).
PAP got power....

People lan lan, just shut up and pay. Complain also must pay. Talk too loud, then go to court, and pay.

How to win?

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that LTA is doing what Singapore authorities are so good at: looking at a problem, coming up with a plan only to lose sight of it almost immediately. LTA has become reactive in its handling of the traffic congestion problem: every six months it issues an edict - "Oh the speed of traffic flow has decreased." Its all too predictable and by now, tired, answer: "Let us raise the ERP." The ERP has become a whip to flail at each and every traffic problem, real or imagined. In case I am accused of not being "constructive" here is my two cents worth - would LTA consider free transit buses that ply the CBD? Drivers can park their cars outside the CBD or enter by means of the MRT and board these transit buses. The service can be funded by the ERP toll earnings that the LTA is at pains to assure us are not meant to raise revenue. If LTA shares in the vision of making Singapore a genuinely great urban centre then they should not be kneejerkingly reactive but follow the government's mantra of being critical thinkers and think out of the box or boxes they have erected. They should put aside the siege mentality they are slowly but surely putting in place.

Anonymous said...

I stay in the east, I work in the West.

I've learnt to keep my car below 2000rpm, drive safe, be nice, don't let my testosterone levels get overboard, listen to radio on my handphone, switch off the aircon on cooler days, and only use the car for work. wake up earlier to beat the traffic and the ERP.

I take the public transport to town.

total costs, abt 100 dollars a week. ERP cash card? I top up once every 3-4 months. I use it mostly for parking.

Anonymous said...

hey mr wang,
if you want to write a second post-script, it should be pps, and not pss. i've also noticed that of late, your posts are less political, less edgy...what gives? age mellowing you? haha...but i do enjoy your blog.!!Nad

Anonymous said...

Looks like ministar Laymond Lim trying to raise the money for LTA HQ internally. Remember PM told the previous minster to FO when he asked for $500 million? Or maybe Laymond Lim tu-lan after all the stat boards and ministries ignored his Yellow Pages rule and now he fed up want to tekan Mr Regular Joe coz Mr Regular Joe has not choice.

Anonymous said...

Lower end of Geylang Rd and beginning of Sims Ave very slow traffic so why not erect ERP gantries there? It's cheaper than a condom for those people who go there for China chicken.

What next, pay a pollution tax each time you fart?

Anonymous said...

Did we vote in a government to think up solutions for rich car owners?

Anonymous said...

If you don't own a car, this gantry increase won't affect you directly.

In fact, i think it's a great idea - but why stop at SGD1-2? Hell just trump it up by USD20-30! At the rate this is going, why delay the inevitable by going slow? Make it a mega increase! Overnight, the population will queue up to SELL their cars!

*poof* Transport minister Raymond Lim waves his wand and the problem is instantly solved!

Anonymous said...

What the govt does not reveal is the rate of foreigners coming into Singapore. Those of us who travel by public transport already felt this since the late 90s. I suppose it is an issue of national security, same reason why they don't reveal the breakdown of PRs from their definition of 'Singaporeans'.

With their aim to increase resident population to 6 million, things will only get worse.

Anonymous said...

Honestly I think we are all starting to sound a bit spoilt when it comes to public transport in singapore, specially the MRT.

I visited a friend in the UK last year. We stood waiting on platforms that was so small, all you had to do was extend both arms to the sides, and that would have equalled the standing space while waiting for the train. Not only that, I noted standing (there were no benches anywhere) for a full HALF AN HOUR, before the train arrived. Since my friend lives in the southwest where towns are separated by stretches of hills and farm, the nearest train station at a particular town can up to 2 hours to arrive - with the schedules constantly changing at the last minute. I also counted at least THREE times whilst travelling on the London subway periods where the train stopped dead in the middle of tracks, only to resume its journey after FIFTEEN minutes.

Here in Singapore, people start complaining the minute they have to wait more than 5 minutes for the train, or worse, complain that they have to wait for the next one because this one is just too crowded. Adding fuel to the fire, they also insist on pushing their way in without consideration for the comfort and safety of passengers already inside.

I am not happy for the increase in ERP charges, nor am I pleased about taxi fares exploding. But I think complaining about how inefficient the MRT and bus service is, without considering how the recent population boom impacts our existing public transport service - and instead blaming SMRT and SBS - is so typically Singaporean...in the worst possible way.

We all like to make ourselves think we are so pitiful, the minute something inconveniences us, we blame it on everyone else, but don't try to take it in stride. We take ourselves way too seriously, and we are so quick to look at the negative.

Unknown said...

Hi Keen,

Indeed I agree we should appreciate that our SMRT and SBS are most of the time more efficient than other countries'. However, the fact is that our public transport standards have degraded somewhat with the influx of foreign population. From your comparison with UK, it seems that our public transport system is quite good relatively, and has a lot of room to dwngrade before it reaches the lower standards of UK.

But going forward, it doesn't mean that our system has to degrade to the stds of other countries before Singaporeans' complaints can be justified. It remains that the governement doesn't seem to have an effective long term solution to the problem and the situation can only get worse. Rather than viewing Singaporeans' qualms as wilful whining, you can also view it as constructive criticism for the government.

Anonymous said...

Dear Keen,

I have also travelled a lot and while I must admit that Singapore public trpt is much better than a lot of other countries' trpt, there are a few factors why Singaporeans gripe a lot.

1) Minister's pay the highest in the world. We expect value for money esp since our employers and to a certain extent the govt expect this from us.

2) People have a say in the kind of policies they want in the country. More or less they know they have some form of control so even if the end product is nto perfect, knowing that they had a say makes them feel better.

3) Singaporeans are too rushed and stressed. In UK and such, no job still can depend on welfare. Here, no job, u die.

Hope this helps

Anonymous said...

Hey Keen,

If the authorities want to boast and brag that theirs is a world class transport system, then be prepared to be $%^$^% by commuters when it is not so.

The tube does not advertise itself as world-class, does it?

Anonymous said...

oh no! It's PAP's new media strategy! I think you should join PAP or are you already a part of it?

Anonymous said...


you post reads like an anecdotal extract from a ST column or the pm speech at the national day rally.


sg goon du said...

You are laywer? better educated than me so you do understand more deep about policy than other people.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

As far as I can recall (and you can use the search engine at the top right-hand corner of this blog to check), I've never complained about the MRT, the buses or the taxis in Singapore.

Nevertheless I think that the complaints can be legitimate and valid:

(1) if there is a drop in the quality of services provided; and

(2) the government continues with its grandiose claims that our public transport system is world-class.

There isn't anything world-class either, about an ERP system whose strategy of managing road traffic is to impose charges so high that people are deterred from using roads. Kinda defeats the purpose of having roads in the first place.

Anonymous said...

There is room for community movements in Singapore (in addition to the People's association and the Commnity centres) that focus on the day to day running of essential community services such as transport. Taking the MRT, buses, and taxis or driving in one's own car or cycling or walking for that matter is a serious matter as it affects the well being, the economic performance as well as the sense of belonging and nation hood of a people. So why not have community movements that provide essential feed back, monitor performances as well as come up with practical solutions for improving life and well being. Community movements reflect the needs and aspirations of different sectors of Singapore - for example, taking a bus in Macpherson to travel to Woodlands is a very different experience during the off peak hours from te office worker rushing to work in Jurong. We don't need a government or political party to do tis because this is really about making life better for everyone. Such movements are typically manned by volunteers.

Anonymous said...

Guess what google threw out!


7 December 2005


It's not fair to compare

Letter from Ong Lip Hua
In "Public transport is going places" (Dec 5), readers Lim Wui Boon and Liew Kai Khiun concluded that Singapore's public transportation is efficient and we have taken the efficiency for granted, using Australia's long waiting times as the comparison.
Transport providers have been quoting similar comparisons, and concluding that Singaporeans are too demanding to appreciate what is on their table.
I beg to differ. Transportation in Australia, Europe, or the United States relies heavily on personal transportation, due to the long travel distances.
A car there is a necessary tool.
Singapore being a densely-populated, small nation state, relies heavily on our public transport system. Taxes on private vehicles is also higher. Hence, public transportation plays a more important role here.
We cannot use the same yardstick to compare public transportation in Australia, Europe, US or even Malaysia, to conclude that we should be happy with what is given — for the circumstances are greatly different.

Xtrocious said...

Funny isn't it...

When things go bad, "people" compare our services to other countries that are worse off than us and tell us we are "fortunate"...

But when our ministers' pay go up, these same people don't do the same like-for-like comparison?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Singapore you are indeed the
densiest place on planet earth!

7 ooo ppsk with tourists. Land rent must go to the highest bidder - shopping malls? condos? factories? vehicles? offices? etc.

The day will eventually come when only the wealthy can choose to be buried.

Would Singapore cave-in one day given that what's under is slowly being hallowed out?

Life's funny, right?

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, the point is not about the ERP.

Point is: Why are so many COEs being issued so that the road congestion situation has come to what it has become today???

The ERP is not the root of the issue. The root is the number of COEs.

Anonymous said...

When they introduce COE, the reason given is to ensure growth of car population within road handling capacity. When they allow car population to increase at the rate of 3% per year, they probably think that the road space can cope. But now, ERP will eventually the main tool to manage traffic flow. So the mistake made will have to borne by the people. Where is the vision? When thing turn out not working to their vision, they will say there is no single solution to the issue and need more than one method to solve. I hope it will not end up in future that Singapore will be zoned up into sectors and individual will have to pay when moving from one sector to another when "Singaporean resident" increase to whatever the number they envision to be.

Anonymous said...

I particularly like the graphic that you included in this post. It says "Cost of Living". Having lived in Singapore for such a long time, almost everyone I talked to says Singapore's standard of living has gone up. When I tell them that it's mostly the COST of living that has gone up and they give me the blank look.

I realised that this stems mainly from the fact that most Singaporeans just parrot what is printed in the ST. So I am glad that you have put this graphic on your post.

Anonymous said...

Have to start riding bicycle now :(.
ERP is just one of the penny wise pound foolish scheme but then when have they ever listen to their own citizens ,us.
The best part though is this :-
X can fool some people all of the time(elderly), X can fool all people some of the time( MNC, global org) but X can't fool everybody all the time.
And when we finally decided that it happens, ask ourselves what to do and finally move on to better places, jobs and things.
Another person will try to come up with yet another label. and stick that label on us.
A dose of something some person mentioned before.But you see that failure is all his for all to see.
The point is history though warped now will remember that person as something else when enough time pass by.Consider it the long term investment of today memory.

Anonymous said...

Just listen to goverment
They r always "RIGHT"
One ppl One nation One Singapore
Complain no use
Still Vote
Pay n Pay

Vincent said...

The transport situation in Singapore is one of the main reason why I prefer to work overseas instead of staying in Singapore. Though likewise I also have the means to easily get cars, but still if it is not sponsored by my company, I don't see a reason of getting one. As I heard from a friend transiting between Boon Lay and Seng Kang everyday, the time spent travelling during peak hours maybe more than the time spent taking public transport. And you can just sleep on public transport.

If in Singapore, I spent 10% of my time travelling to work as compared to say when I'm in Japan now, only 3%. Secondly, taking public transport in Singapore is quite stressful - overcrowding and long waiting times. A stress-inducing city infrastructure will make the city more unliveable.

If Singapore is importing more foreign workers in and our infrastructure can't take it, I will voluntarily export myself out.

Anonymous said...

The inevitable must come sonner than any country on this planet.

Why? Because you are only a little red dot!

Expectations must be met. Thousands of young people enter the job market with already a HDB roof over their heads now want to own and drive a car to signal that that they have arrived. Though old and not so old these seniors still have the purchasing power to continue to hold on to their cars. Cabs have to be increased to provide employment & earn the tourist dollar.

What the inevitable next to happen will be bloated trains. Train ticket inspectors will then have to double-up as sumos to pack sardines into the coaches. Pretty faces of commuters will then be rearranged due to the pancake effect pressed upon the doors of the trains.

How to disregard the politics of transport in a democracy when people poll every five years. How? How? And this is only TRANSPORT!

Mr MOM - you need to land 1000s of jobs into S'pore for the tertiary & school leavers every year. Mr MINDEF - you need to maintain and pay for an expensive state of art war machine to keep the peace in this green neighbourhood. Etc.

I don't think I want to be a politician in Singapore. The macros look so daunting; the micro in the limping, castrated MSK is also a pain in the ass. Tough lah. Really tough lah.

Isabel Tan Cjinh Ping said...

Mr Wang, may I know how you move around as a family without a car? Do you take a cab when you need to bring your wife and kids to the beach etc?

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

We move around mostly by MRT and taxi.

As the MRT station we live next to is on the North-East line, most of the time we go to places along the NEL - eg Plaza Singapura; Vivocity; Harbourfront; and the heartlander places like Kovan Mall; Sengkang Point; Hougang Mall.

Anonymous said...

in a limited space like our, pple are still allowed to own not just one roof, but other roofs for investment and profiteering from those without one/renting from them. with more influx of pple coming in, this enlarging property bubble will cause many not able to afford a house.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever considered that the GOVERNMENT, is actually trying to stretch out the duration in which the ERP can be used to maximise the collection while at the same time, "educate" the motorists that ROADS are not for free?

When they reach a peak, and there is no more they can tax without an outright protest, then they will then start to use PLAN B. I am not sure if there is a PLAN B, but it could be in the range of making cycling viable, better real public transportation (buses or mass people carriers) and so on.

Now, they are just waiting and waiting.

Since we really do not have an alternative voice or power over what the GOVERNMENT can or cannot do (our voted in MPs are like dogs), then we really have to just wait and wait.
In the mean time, just pay and pay.
And can only rant in the cyberspace.

Foreigners? They add to the cost of living, pollution, f our Singapore girls (SPGs) and then take our money (sometimes illegally).

Cost of life has indeed risen, quality? I think Quality dropped. How can quality be good, when population increase, but nothing else is improved?

Anonymous said...

Billions of tax dollars goes into building some of the most expensive roads and tunnels in the world ... for the convenience of the rich. But it is normal.

The middle buys cheaper korean\jap cars but pays the same amount of COE. Effectively subsidizing the rich. But it is normal.

Reducing the road tax helps the rich more than the poor. But it is normal.

Having road hogs, heavy vehicles on expressways already clogged with traffic is normal. Having low speed limits to speed up traffic is normal. Jam breaking in front of gantry is normal and acceptable.

(Speeding kills ... at 120+ maybe ...)

Stay in a toilet long enough and the stink becomes normal.


Anonymous said...

Oh my, the transport system in Singapore is but one of the best!

1) My husband works in the CBD and his cashcard reader beeps to the tune of $8 daily.

2) Having little patience for steering the locomotive and dealing with snaking traffic, clever little me get around Singapore by flailing my arms (ie. cab). The only difference? Well, at least I'm not the one at the wheel. =)

3) Occasionally, I grit my teeth with the mental strength of a combat soldier and strut into the rattling MRT. Armpit and sweat galore await as a reward for my patience. How gratifying! Oh, the rides come with the complimentary thundering yaks of PRCs.

4) If I should for any reason, suffer a mental lapse, the bus would be the chosen mode of transport. The human zoo on board is quite a sight, what with Ah Ma travelling incognito, swivelling with her rickety cane while seated passengers conveniently glue their eyes to TV Mobile or their cell phones. Additionally, billowing sleeves at nostril levels provide a convenient swab.

Now, what does that leave me with? Why, nothing but my bare feet, of course!

We certainly have the best transport system indeed, don't we?

Anonymous said...

here dig to put new rd,there dig to put new rd,everywhere dig dig n our road still so sucks.
Just be a PAP MP n sometimes wayang a bit in parliment to oppose n say "yes sir yes sir"
Good life have own driver,escort from TP,Gurka for guarding home,everything plan for u.
salary revised.HAPPY

Anonymous said...

/// That would hardly be surprising, Alvin. To achieve such an effect on our little island, you basically just have to induce a big influx of foreigners. //

Mr Wang, just add up all the Foreign Workers' levies and you will see that it adds up to around $2-3 billion a year. Not some small change to be sniffed at. And this for doing absolutely nothing.

The Oriental Express said...

Am glad that you too drive a dream car like me...... I have written about my dream car in my blog. Only wise people like you and me drive dream cars; the rest drive real cars! :-)