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Is the free pre-peak travel trial a well thought-out scheme?

By Philip Ang

 

I refer to CNA article “Public, private sector organisations welcome free pre-peak travel trial”. (16 Apr)

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/public-private-sector-organisations-welc/640062.html

The Association of Banks says “many companies in the financial industry already offer staggered work timings”.  The LTA scheme therefore will not have any effect on the financial industry besides giving away taxpayers’ money.

Its chairman, Piyush Gupta, said “such arrangements could translate into greater employee engagement and productivity in the workplace”.  Huh??  Does the ABS need LTA to dish out $10 million of taxpayers’ money for greater employee engagement and increased productivity?

Mr Tan Hoe Soon, a Public Service Division director, said more officers are expected to opt to start work earlier with the LTA trial.  As the largest employer in Singapore, shouldn’t the civil service take the lead in offering staggered working hours instead of doing so only after a scheme has been implemented by a statutory board?

Analysts who have said that “a shift in travel demand of up to 20 per cent could be a stretched target” will also be proven wrong with a high participation rate by the civil service.  I would suggest Mr Peter Ong, head of civil service, be exemplary to civil servants.

Transport GPC chairman Cedric Foo says “it makes sense to deploy the scheme permanently until new capacity meets demand” if things started looking up.  The $10 million dollar question – will capacity ever meet demand with the PAP’s target population of 6.9 million?  Assuming that (a very big) IF it works, isn’t it taking one step forward, two steps back with a simultaneous huge increase in the population even before fixing transportation issues?

How many more ‘ten millions’ of taxpayers’ money will the government need?  How much of this money actually go to foreigners, intended or otherwise?  Will bus commuters switch to ‘free travel’ on trains since the scheme is not applicable to buses, transferring congestion to trains?

Just like the White Paper on Population, questions abound in such a trial and ‘proper’ feedback prior to implementation appears to be absent.

The PAP needs to have guys on the ground and interact with the man in the street to have a better understanding before implementing million-dollar schemes.