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

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Picture from evilcowtowninc.

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