The Online Citizen

2.5% fare reduction for all – except for when it rises!

2.5% fare reduction for all – except for when it rises!
April 21
22:55 2010

After reading the articles ‘Cheaper bus, train rides‘ on The Straits Times website and ‘Public transport fares go down by 2.5% from Jul 3‘ on the Channel NewsAsia website, this is my conclusion: Maths has certainly changed since I was in school. *sigh*

How else do you explain this:

Fares go down by 2.5%, but (certain) people can expect to pay up to $16 more a year?

I must have been sick on Topsy-Turvy Maths Day.

The whole thing is riddled with confusing schemes and contradictions. Let me just highlight a few:

“The Public Transport Council, in its latest annual fare review, on Tuesday said it will apply a 2.5 per cent reduction arising from the fare revision formula, which pegs adjustments to national inflation, wage and productivity figures.”

YAY! And then…

“Fare rates themselves however will rise on the whole from July. This is because a 3 per cent temporary rebate offered last year will cease at end-June.”

I know I am a person who is very much into co-existence and compromise, but in this case, fare reduction and fare rises ARE 100% mutually exclusive concepts. Their coming together in this way must be some sort of signal for the imminent collapse of the time-space continuum, leading to the breakdown of the reality vortex.

“Transfer penalty refers to subsequent boarding charges a commuter who makes transfers has to bear. From July 3, the same commuter will be charged solely according to the distance he travels – regardless of how many transfers he makes.”

Cool, so that means that I can change buses/MRT as often as I like and not have to pay more, because I am paying according to the distance I have travelled. (Hehe I wonder what happens if I just travelled between City Hall and Raffles Place MRT stations over and over again… will my fares still go up?) This would benefit those who have to make multiple transfers to get to wherever they need to go. However…

“Commuters may also end up paying more if they make short trips, as the starting fare for both buses and trains will go up under the new calculation. On buses, they will go up 2 cents to 71 cents, and increase 3 cents to either 71 cents or 76 cents on trains.”

Heh? So that means that every time I step on a bus or an MRT I will have to pay a boarding fee? Does this not offset the fact that there is no more transfer cost? Am I missing something here? Did I just save money on transfer costs just to pour it back into boarding fees?

Surely multiple transfers = multiple short trips. So how is this going to work? WHAT IS GOING ON?!?!?!

Also, let me just add this: people don’t take long bus journeys because it is too expensive to do multiple transfers. People take long bus journeys because multiple transfers are an EPIC PAIN IN THE A**.

It goes on…

“Senior citizens and students will continue to enjoy concessionary travel. Their fares will be capped at 7.2 kilometres.”

BUT:

“In this group will be one in three senior citizens, who will have to spend on average $23 more a year on commuting. The other two-thirds are likely to save $37 a year. When the changes kick in, seven in ten enjoying concessionary travel will see savings.”

Now, what I want to know is, how did we arrive in this “one in three”, “seven in ten” numbers. And how are we going to figure out who is the “one” in the “three” and the “seven” in the “ten”? Do we form little groups of concessionary travellers and anyhow lom chiam pass?

If this is going to be so arbitrary, is it really helping anyone when it comes to taking public transport?

Finally… “SMRT has said it supports the implementation of distance-based fares.”

Of course they do. Of course. Because unlike the policy implementers who have probably not taken public transport since they replaced the Brontosaurus with the Mass Rapid Transit, SMRT knows what public transport is like. They know that no one is going to give up their hard-won seat on the bus to sit in the heat and dust to make multiple transfers, just to save 4¢. They know that instead of two-thirds saving $25 a year, it is probably going to be three-thirds paying $16 more a year. Result = shitload more revenue for SMRT.

As my friend Khine suggested to me, if they really want to reduce the fares, why don’t they just give us back the 50% fare hike that came together with TVMobile? TVMobile is now gone, can I have my money back please?

It seems to me that the bottom-line is this (and what should have been the headline of the articles): 2.5% FARE REDUCTIONS FOR ALL! EXCEPT FOR WHEN IT RISES.

Join me again next week on Let’s Make No F****** Sense, where I will be waxing an owl.*

Using the apparent logic of this system, it seems to me that it probably works out cheapest if you got off the bus/MRT every 3 – 5 stops, walked the next 1 – 2 stops, and then got back on the bus/MRT. Multiple transfers, what.

Personally, I’m going to start campaigning for the development of teleportation devices. Or else I’ll just have to be very good and hope that one day I can travel by TARDIS.

* One of my favourite Green Wing quotes, ever. And also one of my most often used.

Kirsten Han

——–

Picture from evilcowtowninc.

 
  • David

    Why don’t PTC simply tell us that commuters will ultimately be paying more instead of going around the bush to mislead us that we are savings on fare. Was it because election is drawing so near that any hike needs to be implemented in a wayang manner to make them look better and magnanimous to commuters.

  • babablacksheep

    I think Kirsten has misconstrued what PTC said.

    Fare hikes and fare REBATES are mutually exclusive instead of fare reductions.

    Its common sense what the article was trying to say, meaning that if your journey is short, you would experience higher fees. If your journey is long, regardless of one single long journey or a few transfers, the fee is the same. The news article also did not mention a boarding fee. And no, there is no lom chiang pass, it means that the existing senior citizens, based on statistics.

    Maybe you should brush up on your language skills? It seems you dont try to make sense of the article and got frustrated. Instead of spending the time to understand, you wrote an article attacking it.

  • fpc

    LHL is not managing the country well.
    This is his demonstration of creativity: don’t do the work. Just change the words and bluff your way through.

  • Traa

    Awesome article!!!

  • kilroy

    Lol ….thats what happens when bonded rocket scientists are deployed to maintain conventional combustion engines…and spin doctors are used in place of surgeons…

  • James Tan

    These kind of marketing tactics, gimmick and “packaging” is what a marketeer does.  Instead, the government or any institution serving the public should be upfront and transparent.

  • Alex the Peasant Boy

    Good one, Kirsten! No wonder the PAP needs scholars; I doubt any normal Singaporeans could come up with such complicated formula!
    Why dont they just give us a straight discount & not beat around the bush? Oh dear, I forgot, they need the money to feed these scholars & Elites!

  • devil

    Reading the original article in the MSM just pisses me off. It’s like them saying, “I think you are stupid”. The worst part is they probably think their spin works.

  • Kaomangai

    Kristan, good article and enjoyed it. The whole point of this is that you can develop a PhD program on the Singapore public transport system. There is absolutely no chance for the average man to understand this. I was in Hong Kong last week and the public transport system is fantastic! I think Singapore have over engineered this one to death many times over already.

  • lim

    Well, ptc must have learnt something from those bank brochures promoting those dubious products..
    print in big font all the big savings, but those gotchas are in small prints..
     

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  • PMET

    The ultimate question now would be, for the same ride to work everyday, how much must I pay come July?
    The bloody new fare structure is so confusing, I really dunno how to calculate. Anyone can enlighten?

  • joe

    I was very tickled reading TOC’s comments because that was exactly what i felt when i first read the newsapaper article.
    I still  couldn’t figure out whether there was a reduction or increase.

  • http://Website(optional) Yamamoto

    So another case of rising cost…just that this time round, they have to hide it among other stuff….well, shows why SGP is really getting from bad to worse under someone

  • http://kaffein-nated.blogspot.com Kaffein

    Because someone (super high-level) once said that only very few people in Parliament understand the policies discussed and implemented. If your MPs who are high-level people don’t even understand, what makes you think you the common people can understand the formula?
    Understand?
    Kaffein
    PS. As Poh the Kung Fu Panda said, there is no secret ingredient actually. Doesn’t matter how you calculate, just ‘show me the money’.

  • Sawdust

    LHL administration is to make every ordinary citizen sweat to work hard for the money and have no time for being rebellious and participate in political activites as well as making babies.  Which gave him the excuse to bring in cheap trash, who also have no time for the above things. Leaving LHL having more time to “fix” his oppositions and save guard his interests.

  • NOLAN

    **will apply a 2.5 per cent reduction arising from the fare revision formula, which pegs adjustments to national inflation, wage and productivity figures.**
     
    WONDER WHAT THE EQUATION WILL LOOK LIKE.

  • Fortune-teller

    They should write a book on this episode titled ” How to camouflage price increases in an Election Year”. It just amazes me how they seem to outdo themselves time after time.
    Sometimes I really wonder if we have ostriches as our policy makers?

  • Amused

    @babablacksheep
    “If your journey is long, regardless of one single long journey or a few transfers, the fee is the same.”
    Incorrect. For example, the current fee for longest air-con bus journey using EZ link is $1.65. After the revision, the fee would become $1.94. That is an increase of $0.29, which is even larger than the maximum increase when paying cash (of $0.20 from $1.90 to $2.10)
    Source: http://www.pressrun.net/weblog/2010/04/when-is-a-fare-hike-a-fare-cut.html
    Also, there is no such thing as “unlimited transfer”. You’re only entitled to 5 transfers before it is considered a new journey.
    Source: http://chantc.blogspot.com/2010/04/distance-based-fares-from-3-jul-2010.html

  • Dumb and dumber

    If you guys think $0.29 cents increase is alot, wait till this coming election is over.
     
    Just be prepared to pay for more the GST if PAP still has the majority seats in the Parliment.
     
    “SINGAPORE’s Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate of 7 per cent is among the lowest in the Asia-Pacific – a fact that could stand the country in good stead as the competition for foreign indirect investments in the region intensifies.
    .
    .
    .
    He added: ‘If the government needs to recoup economic stimulus spending, GST may be the obvious target.”
     
    Source: http://app.mfa.gov.sg/pr/read_content.asp?View,14734,
     

  • joe

    just by looking at the comments here, it will not be incorrect to say that most are confused whether the fares actually go up or down.
    looks like only bababblacksheep understand.  So if we use this as a strawpoll of the singaore population, less than 2 % people understand this… so much for clarity of public annoucements by the government .. hah !

  • All the crap

    Year in year out, SMRT and SBS have been raising the transport fares,using high wages and high oil prices to justify the increases. As a result the profits of SMRT & SBS have been increasing year after year. For this year, they want to increase the transport fares, but have ran out of valid excuses!! Firstly, they are employing cheap FTs and FWs, so no reason to use high cost of wages as an excuse. Secondly, they cannot use the high cost of oil to justify the increases, cos the brilliant transport minister has categorilly mentioned that the increases in the transport fares has no correlation with the oil prices whatsoever!! So how to go about the loop of increasing fares?? Yes! one smart alex come out with a award winning idea!! That is ‘ the transport fares will be decreased 2.5% w.e.f. July!!’ Hey pesto!! the commuters will jump for joy and nobody will be any wiser, cos the end result?– SMRT & SBS will still make a hugh profit! Those so-called elites tot that Singaporeans are indeed ‘daft’!! As a monopoly transport provider, they always call the shots. They can use all sorts of excuses or ( none at all) to justify their cause. The commuters have no choice at all. There is no alternative and cheap transportation mode available. So the commuters are at the mercy of the operators!! If they are so generous, let the fares be status-quo, we don’t want the 2.5% decrease in the fares!! Will they do it?? I bet they won’t!!
     

  • payingmore

    Protect Transport Companies

  • andrew

    The distance-based fares are based on whose distance?
    My distance from start to destination in a straight line manner? or the distance I have to travel just because I have to take a long-winded bus-ride?

  • babablacksheep

    joe – how u know 2% Where is the straw poll u conducted?
    i think a straw poll will also show 99% of the people here are picking bones out of an egg

  • silentfury

    The example of thomson plaza to collyer quay is a farce! I will illustrate: 
    Using gothere.sg to calculate the current transport fare:
    by bus 162 it costs $1.31 as opposed to the new fare of $1.33
    by bus 162 and transfering to MRT at Newton costs THE SAME NOW $1.31 while the new fare is $1.29
    So the real savings for anyone taking the same journey is really 2 cents, or 24 cents a week, half the amount stated by the PTC. They have exaggerated their losses by 100%.
    Another major flaw in the argument is that they appear to project their revenue based on this single journey. But not everyone has the choice of having a route of bus and mrt almost parallel to each other. Those whose journey’s origin and/or destination which are far away the mrt would have their route lengthened if they should choose to take mrt instead of taking a direct bus, and so the so called savings on the journey would be moot since the distance based fare would unlikely be lower than the increase in the direct bus journey fare and any talk about ‘savings’ would be moot.
    Also, the increases in prices seem to be only attributed to increases in fare for short trips, and does not take into account that the maximum fare has been increased, from $1.65 to $1.94 and so they most likely have understated the increases in fares that would happen.
    So do you really think that there really is that much reduction in the fares? Is the fare ‘adjustment’ really going to cost the transport operators $32 million a year?

  • havuanywool

    transport fares increasing, yet shown on paper to be decreasing…
     
    CLEARLY YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!

  • Avatar

    The article is excellently written and together with the realistic comments by the public, why would anyone want to pay to read the ST I wonder.

  • Avatar

    The article is excellently written and together with the realistic comments by real people, why would anyone want to pay to read the ST I wonder.

  • silentfury

    The example of thomson plaza to collyer quay is a farce! I will illustrate: 
    Using gothere.sg to calculate the current transport fare:
    by bus 162 it costs $1.31 as opposed to the new fare of $1.33
    by bus 162 and transfering to MRT at Newton costs THE SAME NOW $1.31 while the new fare is $1.29
    So the real savings for anyone taking the same journey is really 2 cents, or 24 cents a week, half the amount stated by the PTC. They have exaggerated their losses by 100%.
    Another major flaw in the argument is that they appear to project their revenue based on this single journey. But not everyone has the choice of having a route of bus and mrt almost parallel to each other. Those whose journey’s origin and/or destination which are far away the mrt would have their route lengthened if they should choose to take mrt instead of taking a direct bus, and so the so called savings on the journey would be moot since the distance based fare would unlikely be lower than the increase in the direct bus journey fare and any talk about ’savings’ would be moot.
    Also, the increases in prices seem to be only attributed to increases in fare for short trips, and does not take into account that the maximum fare has been increased, from $1.65 to $1.94 and so they most likely have understated the increases in fares that would happen.
    So do you really think that there really is that much reduction in the fares? Is the fare ‘adjustment’ really going to cost the transport operators $32 million a year?

  • thelight

    Simply cannot understand the whole calculation. May be they tried to made us confusion thinking it is a reduction…..

  • saycheese

    Looks suspiciously like a fare hike spun into some pre-GE goodie!
    The example given at http://publictransport.sg/publish/etc/medialib/distance_fares.Par.72899.File.dat/JourneyExample2.2.jpg show a savings of 4 cents under the new fare structure for that trip when a transfer to MRT is made – full bus ride cost $1.33 to Clifford Pier vs $1.29 with transfer at Newton MRT, alighting at Raffles MRT .  The current cheapest mode of travel for this journey is to take SBS 162 and it cost $1.31 but if one were to start the trip from the next bus stop (code 53049, after Thomson P.O. instead of bus stop code 53059,  opposite Thomson Plaza), the current fare is only $1.21 while the new distance based fare is definitely higher even with the transfer to MRT.

  • So Sad

    Where else in the world is there a government agency that controls price increases to ensure a monopoly makes profits every year?

  • joe

    Babablacksheep,
    I am just using this forum to gauge how many people understand.  Based on the postings i have read here, it seems that you are the only one who understood.  As more and more people contribute and claim to be confused in this forum, then the % get less and less.
    I am not saying we actually did a strawpoll survey but i am just using this forum as a gauge lah.
    U Cool ?

  • Avatar

    Joe
    I thought sheep only say ‘baa…’ and only understand ‘baa….’.  You’re wasting your time.
    So Sad
    The killer monopolies are HDB, PUB, NTUC, ST, SingTel… you name it, we got it!

  • Unhappy Commuter

    A distance based system would be fair only if our public buses take the shortest route available from point A to point B. However, those who do take public transport will know that our public buses simply do not do so….therefore this system will benefit the public bus companies because bus routes are decided by them. If they decide to make long detours, the commuter ends up paying more because we do not have a say in how bus routes are planned.

  • Agents Provocateur

    Surely you don’t expect Dalek mathematics to make sense.

  • http://kixes.wordpress.com kixes

    YUSSSS A DOCTOR WHO REFERENCE IN THE COMMENTS AT LAST!
    This was the main objective of my writing the article…
    No, really. ;P

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  • http://www.dirtywhistle.com/ George

    Year in year out, SMRT and SBS have been raising the transport fares,using high wages and high oil prices to justify the increases. As a result the profits of SMRT & SBS have been increasing year after year. For this year, they want to increase the transport fares, but have ran out of valid excuses!! Firstly, they are employing cheap FTs and FWs, so no reason to use high cost of wages as an excuse. Secondly, they cannot use the high cost of oil to justify the increases, cos the brilliant transport minister has categorilly mentioned that the increases in the transport fares has no correlation with the oil prices whatsoever!! So how to go about the loop of increasing fares?? Yes! one smart alex come out with a award winning idea!! That is ‘ the transport fares will be decreased 2.5% w.e.f. July!!’ Hey pesto!! the commuters will jump for joy and nobody will be any wiser, cos the end result?– SMRT & SBS will still make a hugh profit! Those so-called elites tot that Singaporeans are indeed ‘daft’!! As a monopoly transport provider, they always call the shots. They can use all sorts of excuses or ( none at all) to justify their cause. The commuters have no choice at all. There is no alternative and cheap transportation mode available. So the commuters are at the mercy of the operators!! If they are so generous, let the fares be status-quo, we don’t want the 2.5% decrease in the fares!! Will they do it?? I bet they won’t!!
     

  • http://www.imperialrage.com/ Simon

    transport fares increasing, yet shown on paper to be decreasing…
     
    CLEARLY YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!

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  • DIVINITY

    They’re always out to skin the poor peasants with all kinds rhetorics,empty sugar-coated policies,complicating the issues to confuse us and treated us as daft to believe in them.They’ve taken us for granted for many decades with cheap and dirty politics solely to perpetuate their rule.All these policies have bear its bitter fruits for the people to savour.Time is running out and if nothing is done to address the cancerous outgrowth,we,people of Sinkapore will be doomed!

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