"In Hong Kong, there is greater duplication of services between the MTR and the buses than in Singapore because the authorities there believe that this competition will benefit commuters, resulting in better service and more affordable fares." - Han Fook Kwang
"Former NTUC Income CEO Tan Kin Lian yesterday publicly called on Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to "take urgent steps to revamp the public transport system in Singapore by increasing the capacity and encouraging more effective competition among the public transport operators". - Source: Todayonline 23 Jul 2011.
"The transport operators have had less time to do inspections and maintenance due to higher train frequencies for a growing population. One would assume that with increased usage, maintenance frequency has to be increased to ensure tip-top performance. On the contrary, SMRT Corporation did not do so." - Source: Todayoline 21 Dec 2011.
My personal view of the root cause of the flawed transportation in Singapore - Privatisation.
A good blog article by Lucky Tan also give a good rebuttal to Lui Tuck Yew's flawed and self-serving argument.
Another article by Andrew Tan that appears in Yahoo! News also opined that no matter how we tweak the system, at the end of the day it is about numbers, human traffic. According to the 2010 Census, Singapore's population stood at 5.076 million. Also in 2010, Singapore saw a total of 11.6 million tourists visiting the tiny island -- about 967,000 per month. So, on average, at any given month, there are supposedly more than 6 million people on the island. Is it any wonder then that our transport system is straining?
If Lui is not going to think out of the box and tackle the problem fast, he will risk going down in history in the rank of MBT as one of the most hated ministers and the end to his political career.
[Updated Dec 25, 2011: In today's Straits Times editorial "Like buses on water", the idea of using water taxi as a viable alternative for transport is rasied again. It is time the LTA and MOT give the idea a serious look rather than keep building more roads.]
[Updated 23 Apr 2012: Askmelah and many other critics have mentioned that the transport system urgently need to be overhauled and the transport ministry needs to go beyond infrastructure. It is thus puzzling to see Lui Tuck Yui only summoned SMRT chairman Koh Yong Guan and chief executive officer Tan Ek Kia after a spate of frequent train breakdowns in the space of a week, when the responsibility falls squarely on him to overhaul the transport system.]
- Putting joy back in bus rides, The Straits Times, Mar 10 2012, "Govt's $1.1b susidy is not enough; overhaul of bus system is needed" - by Christopher Tan
- "Should transport system go the HK way?", The Straits Times 7 Oct 2012
Overhauling Singapore's public transport model: Giam
Source: Asiaone.com 19 Jul 2011
By Gerald Giam
Editor's preface: We first reproduced Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew's Facebook rebuttal to Workers' Party's proposal to nationalise public transport. Since then, Workers' Party has replied. We reproduce it in full here.
Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew recently criticised the Workers’ Party’s (WP) proposal for a not-for-profit National Transport Corporation to replace the current two listed public transport companies.
Mr Lui claimed that WP’s proposal had “serious downsides, chief amongst which commuters and taxpayers (yes, even those who don’t take public transport) are likely to end up paying more, and possibly, for a poorer level of service over time”.
He added that “it is the profit incentive of commercial enterprises that spurs efficiency and productivity improvements”.
MARKET FAILURES IN PUBLIC TRANSPORT
These are simplistic and tired old arguments about the virtues of private enterprises which fail to fully appreciate the economic reality of the public transport industry in Singapore.
Firstly, taxpayers who do not take public transport already contribute to the provision of public transport in the form of taxes that pay for the construction of roads, the development of rail lines and the purchase of the first set of trains on every new MRT line.
Secondly, public transport is an industry rife with market failures which the Minister seems to ignore. The current regime where SMRT Corporation (SMRT) and SBS Transit (SBST) each provide both rail and bus services provides an illusion of competition.
The reality is that SMRT and SBST have clearly delineated areas of responsibility with no route overlaps. This makes each of them a de facto monopoly provider in their own particular areas.
Commuters do not have the freedom to switch between providers whenever they choose to, nor do we see public transport operators (PTOs) fighting to acquire and retain customers like airlines do with promotions, discounts and loyalty programmes.
The monopoly status is also reflected in the consistent high returns these companies earn. Freed from the discipline of genuine market competition, they have few incentives to raise service standards and keep prices low.
To say that shareholder discipline will create such incentives is naive at best, and wrong at worst. Shareholders seek higher profits, not better or more affordable services. The government must examine whether a public utility should be owned and operated by what are effectively private monopolists earning monopoly rents.
Mr Lui claims that the current regulatory regime is a “robust” one that does not allow operators to benefit at the expense of commuters. This is a remarkable assertion once we consider the profits of PTO’s—$215.4 million last year alone. The fines imposed for not meeting service standards pale in comparison to these profits.
SMRT and SBST have consistently enjoyed high returns on equity (ROE) of above 15 per cent. For SMRT, it has been above 20 per cent in most years. In contrast, the median ROE for a Singapore listed company is about 9.5 per cent.
A company that provides a public good should not earn such excessively high returns, as these invariably come at the expense service quality and benefits to commuters. The overcrowded trains and buses show how companies which do not face genuine competition can increase profits and raise shareholder returns at the expense of the commuting public.
As a result of such profit-oriented behaviour, the two PTOs’ high returns have been enjoyed by their shareholders. For example, SMRT has paid out close to 80 per cent of its net income in recent years. These generous dividends could instead have been used to provide better services or reduced fares. However, it is not possible for publicly-listed firms to do this, as their obligations are to their shareholders.
Public transport as a public good
Mr Lui mentions the “serious” downsides of a nationalised public transport system, while ignoring workable examples—even locally—where the government heavily subsidises public services or even provides services directly to the public.
Schools, for example, are mostly government run. Public hospitals and clinics are heavily subsidised. Even public housing is subsidised by public money.
Yet when it comes to public transport—an essential service for the majority of Singaporeans—the government advocates its provision by listed corporations, whose first priorities are to their shareholders.
Public transport is a public good that serves a national purpose, in the same way as healthcare, education or public housing. Thus running it on a cost-recovery basis will create positive externalities if it benefits the overall economy, for example, by getting people to work on time and in comfort.
In the face of the pressing need to provide this public good, it is clear that the present public transport model needs to be overhauled.
WP’s NATIONAL TRANSPORT CORPORATION PROPOSAL
WP has, since 2006, called for the MRT and public buses servicing major trunk routes to be brought under a National Transport Corporation (NTC), which will oversee and provide universal transport services.
NTC should aim to provide safe, affordable, accessible, efficient and reliable universal public transportation services, on the basis of cost and depreciation recovery. As a not-for-profit corporation owned by the government, NTC will serve the needs of the public and not that of listed company shareholders.
WP’s proposal recognises public transport in Singapore as an inherent monopoly and as a public good. A well-managed NTC can provide superior outcomes compared to the present profit-oriented monopolies. We would expect no less from NTC, in terms of efficiency and cost-effectiveness, compared to the way any other statutory board is managed by the government.
To achieve these outcomes, the government should set stringent key performance indicators (KPIs) for the NTC. These KPIs could include:
- Affordability of fares to ordinary Singaporeans
- Containment of costs;
- On-time bus and train performance;
- Customer satisfaction ratings (through independent surveys);
- Percentage of public transport ridership;
- Productivity improvements and innovation.
To incentivise their performance, the bonuses and pay increases of NTC executives should be pegged to the achievement of such KPIs, and there could be negative consequences for not meeting them. This will be more effective in ensuring service standards compared to the present regulatory regime, where the fines imposed on the companies for failure are a pittance compared to their profits.
Nationalised public transport won't run well: Lui
The current model of provision of public transport has produced many undesirable outcomes, as evidenced by the “crush loads” experienced by commuters every day and the public outcry each time fares are increased.
It would do Singaporeans no good if the government sticks dogmatically to its narrow philosophy of the virtues of privatisation and the profit motive, without considering the true economic reality of the public transport industry in Singapore.
The writer is a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament and chair of the Workers' Party media team.
'Nationalised public transport won't run well'
Source: AsiaOne.com 14 Jul 2011
By Lui Tuck Yew
Editor's preface: We reproduce in full here Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew's Facebook response on the issue of nationalisation of transport.
Both SBS Transit and SMRT have submitted their proposals to the Public Transport Council (PTC) to raise fares. This has generated some responses, including a suggestion for our public transport system to be nationalised.
While this might seem like a very attractive idea, in reality, it has serious downsides, chief amongst which commuters and taxpayers (yes, even those who don't take public transport) are likely to end up paying more, and possibly, for a poorer level of service over time.
A nationalised public transport operator that depends on government funding and which operates on a cost recovery basis would have little incentive to keep costs down. Cost increases will be passed on to commuters.
Over time, this will lead to higher costs for the same level of service, which means commuters pay higher, and not lower fares. Not only would people have to pay more, nationalising the operators could result in a stagnation of service quality or efficiency over time.
On the other hand, it is the profit incentive of commercial enterprises that spurs efficiency and productivity improvements. This is the reason why many cities around the world have moved or are moving towards having commercial enterprises provide public transport services.
Some people have said that the public transport operators (PTOs) should not be making so much profit, although we should also recognise that as public-listed companies, it is not unreasonable for the PTOs to earn fair returns from the sizeable capital investments required to sustain their operations and to invest in future public transport needs.
What is important is to ensure that commuters' interests are safeguarded even as we have commercial enterprises run the public transport services.
Let me highlight the key aspects.
First, we have a robust framework to regulate bus and rail service levels through service quality and operating performance standards so that PTOs do not pursue profit at the expense of commuters. LTA will also continue to work with the PTOs to deliver improvements to the public transport system.
Second, the PTC regulates fares based on a fare adjustment formula (0.5 CPI + 0.5 WI -1.5%) that takes into account macro-economic factors, namely the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and average national wage increases, while delivering a productivity dividend to commuters. The fare adjustment formula protects commuters by capping fare increases - PTOs are not free to simply pass on their cost increases to commuters.
As in previous years, the PTC will have to deliberate on the PTOs' fare revision proposals bearing in mind the interests of commuters and the sustainability of our public transport system. In fact, there have been some years when the PTC approved fare increases that have been less than what the PTOs proposed but we should let the PTC deliberate on this properly and make its decision.
These two elements have enabled us to put in place an efficient, cost-effective and financially sustainable public transport system. Certainly, there are areas for further improvement so we can deliver a high quality public transport system, and I welcome your inputs and feedback.
Finally, the Government has invested heavily in our public transport infrastructure and we will continue to do so. On the rail network alone, we have invested about $20 billion in the existing rail network infrastructure and will be investing another $60 billion in new rail lines by the end of the decade.
Government funding of public transport infrastructure is a key reason why public transport fares continue to be affordable.
Integrate land use with transport planning and don't forget about buses
AN OVERLY cautious investment strategy, failure to integrate transport planning better with land use, and a sudden spike in population.
Academics said these are the main reasons for many of Singapore's transport woes today. And while they acknowledge the effort being made to boost infrastructure to meet demand for public transport, they said there is a need to go beyond hardware to look at some policy issues.
Can underground tunnel provide flood relief?
My friend mentioned that "Singapore should build a similar underground tunnel along the railway track land to resolve the flooding and the north-south traffic problems. There is no need to acquire private properties to build another CTE. As there are no buildings above the railway track land, the tunnel could be built with cut-and-fill method which is very much cheaper than tunnelling.
"The tunnel should have three tiers, similar to the KL tunnel. The lowest tier being the storm reservoir. The upper two tiers are for the expressways which can be shut to form another two more storm reservoirs temporarily. You could also have four tiers and the top tier could be an MRT track, never to be flooded if you want it running all the time.
"The KL tunnel serves to channel water away from flood prone areas when the need arises and functions as expressway normally. If need be, we could connect the end of the tunnel to a huge underground reservoir, similar to that in Tokyo."
Since the railway track runs parallel to the three major reservoirs, pipes could be build to run the water to the existing reservoirs if they are not filled to capacity. Hence, water in any flood-prone areas in Singapore can be quickly channelled to the railway tunnel since it is located in the centre of Singapore.
Hence, we could have a permanent to-and-fro marathon track without affecting traffic every time we have a marathon or running event. The two roads below could serve as an emergency road to ferry emergency cases from any running event to the hospital.
Alternatively, we could link the railway track to a branch park connector to have a one-way 42km track marathon. It will really be a win-win scenario for everyone, besides building up a healthy society.
On a similar matter, two-tier expressways should always be considered since this saves land and provides shelter from the sun and the rain for the lower tier expressway.
If we can have a three-tier expressway, the lower tier can be turned into a sheltered running and bicycle track and for shops, too, if the human traffic becomes heavy.
Treat them as monopolies
Souce: The Straits Times 23 Jul 2011
WHILE Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo ('Public transport model not key issue'; yesterday) focused on how public transport operators are forced by the profit motive and the free market to maximise efficiency, she did not address how service standards are similarly upheld in the current circumstances.
The public transport sector currently comprises monopoly providers for routes in a given sector; there is no duplication of services.
While the operators do not enjoy monopoly rent in terms of pricing because of Public Transport Council (PTC) oversight, they enjoy monopoly rent by being insulated from having to compete on routes. The route advantage allows the two operators to pack their buses and trains to enjoy the maximum bang for their buck, because there are no other services for the route. Transport operators have no incentive to improve service quality.
Improving service quality is likely to incur higher costs for the operators, but these costs can be recovered only through higher fares, which are subject to PTC approval. If operators do not improve their service quality, commuters have no choice either because there is currently no route competition for public transport services. The operators are not in danger of losing commuters if they do not uphold service standards. In addition, the fines imposed on operators for transport disruptions have also been a fraction of their profits. On the whole, there have been minimal disincentives for public transport operators when they provide poor service.
Mrs Teo focused on the efficiency of Singapore's public transport system. But we also need a system that is affordable to the masses, and that does not penalise those who cannot afford private transport, such as forcing them to suffer poor service because they must commute by bus or train.
Public transport in Singapore may be privatised, but it is organised as a duopoly with only the profit motive encouraging operators to be efficient, without correspondingly strict and effective measures to ensure efficient and quality service standards.
We should regulate our current private operators as we would monopoly operators, and empower the PTC with a larger mandate to monitor and enforce service standards strictly, including the levying of punitive financial disincentives that will add more bite.
In response to the National Solidarity Party's (NSP) call for greater competition in public transport - including opening up bus services to small private operators - Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew has warned that this could hurt the interests of commuters in the long run.
Speaking at the Choa Chu Kang LRT Station - where he also announced improvements to the LRT system - Mr Lui reiterated that the "cherry-picking" of lucrative routes by multiple operators could end up with commuters paying more.
Mr Lui noted that the two public transport operators - SBS Transit and SMRT - run a mix of profitable and loss-making routes which they are obliged to do so under their universal service obligations.
The minister added: "There is a certain amount of cross subsidy that is taking place from the profitable routes to the non-profitable routes ... if you allow cherry-picking to the profitable routes - and certainly everybody who wants to run one or two buses will want to ply on those routes - then the challenge is what happens to the non-profitable routes? And in the end, would commuters end up having to pay more overall?"
Mr Lui noted that the contestability of bus routes "is a very complicated issue", and its implication on fares has to be studied.
On Wednesday, the NSP suggested multiple smaller bus operators who will propose their own routes and respond faster to changes in demand.
NSP secretary-general Hazel Poa also suggested tenders for trains to be awarded based on service and cost - which Mr Lui pointed out yesterday is being done "and nothing really new".
Expressing concern over the delays and disruptions, Mr Lui noted a number were "technical in nature" and that the system has been running for the past dozen years. "What we need to do really is to sit together with SMRT to make sure they are making the right investments and to do their utmost to improve the reliability of the system," he added.
New flats and developments - such as the Institute of Technical Education College West campus - in Bukit Panjang have resulted in increased LRT ridership in the last few years. Average daily ridership on the LRT has grown from 43,700 two years ago to about 51,000 currently. Read more.
- Could answer to transport woes lie in immigration policy?
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It might give them more entrepreneurial drive; the plethora of surcharges should also be pruned
Take our taxi system for instance. Despite the fact that we have some 26,000 cabs on the road, people still have a hard time trying to get one at certain hours. Sometimes you can be on the phone for half-an-hour before you get the annoying response that there is no taxi available then.
Some will tell you that our cab fares are too cheap, therefore implying that they are affordable to too many.
Are they really that cheap? Our fares range from S$2.80 to S$3.20 for the first kilometre, with subsequent distance charges of 20 cents per 385m for the first 10km, and 20 cents per 330m thereafter.
Then there are plethora of surcharges: Peak-hour charges of an additional 35 per cent to the distance fares; S$3 for taking a cab from the Central Business District or from the casinos; S$3 to S$5 in airport charges; electronic road pricing charges, waiting charges and holiday charges. Booking charges vary from S$2.50 to S$5.20 depending on how far ahead you make the call.
Opening the sector to more cab companies was supposed to induce greater competition and, hopefully, better service.
The fare and other service charges among the eight companiesare similar. Yet, at least one has a fuel surcharge which has not been removed although oil prices have recently come down.
Is it little wonder then that our cabbies here are often considered cheats (most often through no fault of their own) by tourists who have no idea what exactly they are paying for?
Now go to Hong Kong. Most Singaporeans who visit the place will tell you that there is little problem getting a cab there, despite the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) having far fewer taxis - just over 18,000 cabs.
And thanks to the strong Singapore dollar vis a vis the Hong Kong currency, cab fares there are often even cheaper than here. The flag-down fare in the SAR is just HK$18 (S$2.84), but it is for the first two kilometres, compared with S$2.80 to $3.20 for half the distance here.
For sure, subsequent distances are charged at HK$1.50 for every 200m. And while Singapore has done away with luggage charges, Hong Kong cabbies charge HK$5 per bag.
But in Hong Kong, most cabbies do away with booking charges (which in any case cost just HK$4), as it saves them from burning up costly fuel while cruising. There is also no midnight charge, which in Singapore adds another 50 per cent to your bill.
Has the introduction of the numerous surcharges led to a more efficient system?
Like many of my fellow cab users, I doubt it. In fact many of our cab drivers (and note that one must be a Singapore citizen to qualify for a licence) are not even familiar with routes, popular buildings and landmarks.
Although Global Positioning devices have declined in price, many of our taxis are not fitted with them. Why?
In fact the surcharge system has led to abuses.
Far too often you will see taxis with the "busy" sign on, or just waiting at certain side lanes for calls to come through. An hour before midnight, it is almost impossible to hail a cab as they wait for the witching hour (midnight) charges to take effect.
With a new Minister for Transport in the person of Lui Tuck Yew, perhaps it is time to review our taxi charges.
Indeed the whole cab system should come under scrutiny. At the very least the number of surcharges should be significantly reduced.
I am sure commuters would not mind paying a little - like increasing the distance charge after the flag-down to say, 20 cents for every 300m. Perhaps too we should go back to the system of old when most cabbies used to own their taxis.
The efficiency of the Hong Kong cab system is perhaps due to the fact that most cab drivers own their vehicles. Competition there for cab licences is so keen that the going price for one now is around HK$5 million.
Despite the numerous surcharges, you only hear gripes from our cabbies.
Ownership of the vehicles they drive might perhaps give them a better incentive to work harder as they would be working for themselves, giving them a sense of entrepreneurship.
As with Mr Tay's experience, more than 20 empty taxis went past us with the sign "busy" turned on. It was anyone's guess that these cabbies were just waiting to profit from the midnight surcharge or for people to dial a cab.
If this is happening in an area outside of town, I am sure it has become commonplace practice. It is ironic that the taxi service which is meant to transport passengers in the late hours could be manipulated by these errant drivers for their own selfish means.
This would not reflect well on the standards of taxi services in Singapore. I urge the relevant authorities to look into the problem urgently and find a solution to put a stop to this before these errant cabbies give the country a bad reputation. Letter from Chan Lai Ying
- "The authorities should filter these group of drivers and put them out of business."
- "Reprogram the Taxi meter with one that, if it did not register a booking and if driver switch to "ON CALL", it will register a warning or demerit point, this would require them to pay penalty. Same for "Change shift" ..etc."
- The taxi problems will continue, unless there is a political will from the top to seriously re-look the matter and be prepared to implement fundamental changes to the system. The root cause of the phenomenon observed by the writer is that it is more profitable for the taxi drivers to respond to taxi calls and to earn the surcharge than to pick up passengers by the roadside.")
I REFER to the letters from Mr Peter Tay, "Cabbies still selective of passengers, despite warnings" (July 9) and Ms Chan Lai Ying, "Errant cabbies will give Singapore a bad reputation" (July 12).
I fully agree with the writers and I strongly urge the relevant authority to consider scrapping the midnight and town-area surcharges, at the same time capping the phone booking surcharge to a maximum of S$1 irrespective of the time of booking.
These surcharges have been the perennial problem as clearly some cabbies have exploited them to create a "false" demand which in turn leads to the justification of the endless extra charges by the taxi companies, with the passengers bearing all of the cost.
If the surcharges are eliminated, those errant drivers who are perpetually "busy" cruising and waiting for phone booking and midnight charges will no longer have any incentive to do so.
They will simply have to return to the basic and fair method of earning the fares, that is to pick up any passengers who flag them down.
Singapore is often compared with Hong Kong in many aspects, including public transport.
Hong Kong has a larger population (7 million) than Singapore's (5.18 million). The Hong Kong Transport Department website states that there are 18,138 taxis in the territory, while taxi operators in Singapore have a combined fleet of 26,970.
With nearly 50 per cent more taxis here and a higher taxi-to-population ratio than in Hong Kong, why do we hear regular complaints about the unavailability of taxis in Singapore? Another set of numbers suggests the root of the problem.
Taxi phone bookings in Hong Kong cost HK$5 (S$0.80) at most and regardless of time, compared to S$2.30 (off-peak), S$3.30 (peak and after midnight) and S$8 (advance booking) in Singapore now. I urge all taxi operators to do away with booking charges or cap them at S$1, irrespective of time.
Taxi drivers would then have little or no incentive to cruise empty and wait for bookings while wasting precious fuel, and more cabbies would pick up passengers who flag them down.
Make caning mandatory for repeat drink-drivers
Source: Todayonline Jun 20, 2011
I refer to the report "18 arrested in ring-fencing operations" (June 17). The penalties meted out seem insufficient, which is no wonder that drink driving is so rampant. I urge the authorities to draft more draconian penalties.
I suggest, first, that vehicles of offenders be confiscated. Fines should be increased to s$1,000 for every milligram of alcohol above the legal limit, per 100ml of breath. The minimum period of disqualification from driving should also be increased to three years.
For repeat offenders, fines should be five times that for first offenders and the disqualification period doubled; their maximum mandatory jail term should increase from three to five years and caning should be mandatory for them.
from Wilson Choo
Outlaw these habits of bikers
Source: The Straits Times 4 Feb 2012
LOSING so many lives on the roads is tragic ('Number of motorbike deaths on the rise'; Wednesday). Most of these deaths could be avoided with proper and responsible riding. Unfortunately, there is very little of that.
If motorcyclists cannot be self-disciplined and responsible, measures must be put in place to curb the problem.
For example, weaving through traffic should not be allowed and motorcyclists caught doing so should face severe penalties.
Changing lanes along expressways has become hazardous because of motorcyclists speeding by motorists' blind spots and squeezing through spaces between cars.
Motorcyclists should behave like motorists and ride in the middle of the lane, taking up the space of a car. Motorists should also respect motorcyclists as fellow road users and not bully them to the sides of lanes.
Whenever I see a motorcyclist approaching from behind, I tense up because I have no idea what he will do. Rules and enforcement should be made stricter for motorcyclists and they must be made aware of the dangers they pose to themselves and others.
Vera Ong (Mrs)
I AM an American lawyer and Singapore permanent resident. My wife is a Singaporean and we have two young sons who were born here.
Last Friday night, I was playing with my four-year-old son at the void deck of Block 106, Simei Street 1 when a motorcyclist sped in, almost running over my son.
The motorcyclist stopped a short distance away, apparently to attend a football game. I confronted him over the incident and subsequently called the police, after he told me I did not belong here and to return to America.
The police interviewed the motorcyclist, who I understood to be 22 years of age. But he was only issued a summons for parking his motorcycle illegally in the void deck.
I was shocked by the penalty, bearing in mind that he almost ran over a child.
I was a criminal prosecutor in the United States and the motorcyclist’s action in speeding into a void deck, almost striking a person, would have been regarded as a felony called ‘criminal endangerment’.
One of the two police officers who answered my call told me he wanted to maintain peace in the neighbourhood. With due respect to the police, the first priority in this case should have been to protect people, especially children.
Instead, the police protected this motorcyclist far more than my four-year-old child.
'They ought to be restricted to certain lanes or be forbidden from the overtaking lane.'
Source: The Straits Times 4 Feb 2012
MS SERENE ONG: 'One main cause of accidents involving motorcyclists is their dangerous lane-changing on expressways ('Number of motorbike deaths on the rise'; Wednesday). Considering their small size and high speeds, it may be hard for other motorists to notice or avoid them until it is too late. They ought to be restricted to certain lanes or be forbidden from the overtaking lane. This might lower the number of accidents involving motorcycles significantly.'
Reckless deck riders
Source: The Straits Times 4 Feb 2012
'We are sending the wrong message if the police continue to adopt a lax attitude.'
MRS JENNY SIM: 'It is puzzling that the motorcyclist who rode his motorcycle in the void deck was only issued a summons for illegal parking ('Police should punish such reckless habits' by Mr John Huntley; Wednesday). We are sending the wrong message to such reckless motorcyclists if the police continue to adopt a lax attitude towards these law-breakers. Do we have to live in continual fear of the safety of our loved ones?'
We should not go on a witch-hunt in light of the evidence of deteriorating driving behaviour even among Singapore citizens.
Let us not be the pot calling the kettle black.
As it is, I regularly see drivers beating the red light, not signalling when changing lanes, tailgating on the expressway while flashing the high beam, speeding past speed cameras that do not seem to be activated and racing at night.
There is now rarely a day of driving that I do not feel like I am entering a battlefield.
This is wrong but it is becoming a norm because if people think they would not be caught, they would continue to drive in these ways.
Such disorderliness is troubling and a threat to others. This is not the Singapore I knew.
Some lawyers argue that such drivers did not intend to hurt or kill anyone and, thus, should not be charged with manslaughter. I find this argument inadequate.
When a man quarrels with someone and it escalates into a fight that kills one of them, the killer would be charged with manslaughter.
There was no intention to kill, or even fight, and no seeming risk of a fatality. I doubt that one would start a fight if one thought someone could die. However, the case for reckless and drink-driving is more culpable.
All motorists know that drink-driving or reckless driving could result in death and/or injury; such cases are reported often enough.
Any confidence in their driving skills after drinking or while driving recklessly is misplaced and not borne of true belief.
While they have no intention to kill, the greater truth is that they have no intention to respect the lives of others.
The greater truth is that they do intend to take risks that may kill others. One must consider the severity of the possible consequences.
Lives should not be lost or compromised because of such drivers. The victim's loved ones also have to pick up the pieces of their lives. No amount of contrition on the part of the guilty would do any good.
Since so many lives have already been lost, it should be clear that current penalties are inadequate.
The authorities should have acted earlier.
Worsening driving habits?
In one incident, Mr Shanmugam's wife, who was driving, wanted to change lanes and signalled, but a van behind sped up so they could not do so. "I wonder if it is the case that we are simply noticing this more, or if our driving habits have become worse," he mused.
That provoked a litany of gripes from netizens - about drivers tailgating, not signalling early when filtering, using high-beam headlights, not giving way to pedestrians or cyclists, poor standards of driving instructors and more.
A number observed that there seemed to be fewer enforcement patrols on the roads and called for these to be stepped up. Others asked for heavy penalties for errant drivers or a review of speed limits for goods vehicles.
Responding to some of the comments, Mr Shanmugam noted that, contrary to belief that ministers have official drivers, they actually drive their own cars. As to those who suggested foreign drivers could be at fault, he said he was "pretty sure" that, in two of his three encounters, the drivers were local.
One need only be stationed for 30 minutes at a busy road or intersection, and one would be amazed at the number of motorists guilty of not signalling, tailgating and horn abuse, not forgetting using their mobile phones.
Despite all the public education campaigns, bad habits prevail.
The only solution is for the authorities to book errant drivers, including cabbies, as well as impose higher fines and, especially, demerit points.
Incidentally, as cabbies drive for a living, why would any in their right mind intentionally flout traffic laws?
Indeed, some have bad driving habits, but no one can say with integrity that other motorists do not.
I live in Woodlands Avenue 4, near the site of a recent accident where a motorcyclist hit a woman.
The video capturing the accident has now gone viral. The accident could have been worse as there are many primary schools in the area.
Prior to this, I have written several times to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to report that speeding motorcycles are common in the vicinity.
The LTA's reply to my feedback was that the survey by the authorities shows that "motorists are travelling within the designated speed limit in general".
I wonder how many surveys they do because I often hear motorcycles speeding, especially at night.
I hope the authorities will give the matter its due attention before any lives are lost.
I refer to the letters "Mobile phones must not distract drivers" (Jan 6, online) and "Switch gears and focus on strategies that prevent road accidents" (Jan 7).
I travel on the road every day and I see more drivers using their mobile phones than Traffic Police patrolling.
I wrote last year, in "Hang up on 'hello' while driving" (May 17), that the Traffic Police web page on its road safety campaigns did not show if anything had been done on this since 2009. A check again shows no change.
We see advertisements on the dangers of drink driving and speeding, but nothing to educate drivers on mobile phone usage while driving. We cannot wait for a fatal accident to happen before action is taken.
Another issue that catches my attention is how small children are not using booster seats. Some are even seated in the front passenger seat or on a parent's lap in the front seat.
We have read of Singaporeans getting into an accident while on holiday and the death of children who were not belted up in the car. We should not let the same happen here.
The Traffic Police should enforce the rules more actively. Good old-fashioned patrolling should be more effective than expensive technology to get errant drivers' attention and stop a potential accident from happening.
Source: The Sunday Times Jun 12, 2011
"Motorist do not give way, most do not bother to signal, and tailgating is almost the norm of the road"
"I am loath to seek stricter controls but it's high time the traffic police exerted their presence and muscle on those who flout traffic rules."
- Clarie Chong (Mrs)