Letter from a reader who wishes to remain anonymous.
I refer to the article “Bus operators fined” Straits Times 6th April 2009. SBS Transit was fined $4500 for not meeting service standards. The standards violated were overcrowding and long waiting time. SMRT was also fined $100 dollars for one instance of overcrowding. The period reviewed was from 1st June to 30th November 2008. According to the article, this was the 3rd time both operations were fined by the Public Transport Council (PTC).
The amount that the operators were fined is insignificant compared to the profits they generate per year.
Just in the 1st quarter of 2009 alone, SMRT achieved a $215.8 million revenue. The estimated profits is about $42million in that quarter when we deduct the $173.3 operating expenses (read the quarterly report here: SMRT)
$100 is only 0.00024%% of SMRT’s quarterly profit. How can this amount encourage SMRT to improve their services? This amount is simply too little and meaningless. Take this example, would the littering fine serve any purpose if the fine amount is just 0.00024% of your quarterly salary?
Similarly, SBS achieved a $40.5 million profit in the year 2008. The fine amount of $4500 is just 0.011% of their annual profits.
Moreover, I do not think that overcrowding occurred only in one instance on SMRT. I have two suggestions: one, the fine amount be adjusted to a meaningful level; two, allow the public to report overcrowding to the PTC themselves. In this way, the true situation will be exposed.
As of now, I feel that the $4500 and $100 is just meaningless.