By Cannis Seng
A monopoly arises when a dominant company assume control of any important services that is irreplaceable. It is an undisputed fact that SMRT with its provision of train services is a monopoly.
Both basic economic theory and common sense tell us that monopolies would choose to abuse their advantageous economic position to maximize their profits especially in the absence of alternative choice.
For the majority of working adults in the CBD area, commuting via the train is a must.
Obviously, our far-thinking leaders understand all this and together with the carrots for the previously excellent train network, have set in some sticks through the oversight by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the fare review committee.
However, these sticks are clearly not working in bringing to task SMRT which has become an indolent behemoth.
Fines; public disdain; political pressure are ALL not working.
Let us return to what train services are. They are essential services provided to the public or known in economic terms as public goods.
ECONOMICS: Public Goods – a commodity or service that is provided without profit to all members of a society, either by the government or by a private individual or organization.
We cannot expect change to come internally from SMRT. We have tried changing the CEO with a background of advertising and property management to another army general who actually has an engineering background. However, it has not worked and the new CEO’s service record is starting to rival that of his predecessor.
We also cannot expect change to be brought about by LTA. As mentioned earlier, fines inflicted on SMRT are laughable, nothing can change the fact that SMRT remains in a monopoly position, and certainly not LTA.
As a believer in positive action, it’s somewhat pointless with vitriol and hate postings from the public, despite being a popular knee-jerk reaction.
So the CEO or one of the Board of Directors of SMRT may have come out to apologize but life goes on and so do their payday.
Don’t you have a picture of what SMRT is by now?
So what can we the little man; the powerless do?
Well, we can remind the government that the provision of train services is a public good that is provided without PROFIT, as such we should petition for the train service to be nationalized.