The Minister of Transport, Lui Tuck Yew, says the Government is focused on “enhancing public transport and getting commuters to opt for it instead of cars”, according to a TODAY newspaper report on Monday, 29 June.
Among these enhancements were the tightening of “service standards each year, such as the requirements for service recovery during breakdowns.”
Mr Lui also addressed concerns that transport operators, particularly the SMRT, are going into non-related transport business, such as provision of Internet services, Mr Lui said “the authorities pay close attention to ensure they are not ‘distracted’ from their core mission of serving commuters.”
The minister said the operators know “we are watching them carefully.”
“Every year, we make improvements (to the quality of service standards),” he said. “For example, in the past, trains sometimes ran at intervals of six, maybe seven minutes during off-peak periods. Now, we require no more than five minutes.”
Mr Lui was speaking at a dialogue in Bkit Panjang.
He was asked by a resident if the government could provide rebates to make cars moe affordable to large families who need them.
Mr Lui replied that the Government’s focus was on making public transport more convenient and accessible to the public, so that more people will choose this over owning a car.
“If every household has a car … road capacity will obviously have to increase to cater to that, and that will be at the expense of bringing roads closer to where people live, doing away with parks, greenery … (For many people, a car) is probably … more of a want than a need,” he was quoting as saying by TODAY.
While Mr Lui says the government wants to urge or nudge commuters to use public transport, it has also been issuing more certificate of entitlement (COE) in recent months.
In January, for example, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) issued 23 per cent more COEs than in the previous three months.
This was also double that for the same period last year.
Dealers said back then that this might bring down COE prices – which it seems to have, if results of bids in June are any indication.
“Certificates of entitlement (COE) took their biggest tumble in recent months on Wednesday, falling across the board to hit among the lowest levels this year,” the Straits Times reported on 17 June.
And in its May-July allocation of the COEs, there was a whopping increase of 41 per cent certificates.
“There will be 6,637 certificates of entitlement (COEs) up for grabs per month in the May-to-July quota – 41 per cent more than the supply in the current period,” the Straits Times reported on 16 April.
The LTA, however, explained that “COEs that come from deregistrations account for most of the COE supply,” it said then.
“In the next two years, the number of vehicles reaching the 10th year of their COE life (and hence, due for deregistration) is expected to increase.”
How will this fit into Mr Lui’s pledge that the Government’s focus is on encouraging the use of public transport?
It is left to be seen.