Simon Lim: Why SBS increasing its fares and not spending more judiciously?

by Simon Lim

I refer to the news that bus and train fares will go up by 9 cents per trip from 28 Dec 2019.

9 cents per trip more to an individual passenger isn’t a lot of money but when taken together, 9 cents multiply by the millions of bus and train passenger trips each day will translate into hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars of additional revenue for both SBS Transit and SMRT every day.

Recently, SBS Transit was sued by 5 of its bus captains for wrongful overtime payments and it was reported that SBS Transit has engaged the services of Davinder Singh Chambers LLC to defend itself.

Unless the services rendered by Davinder Singh Chambers LLC to SBS Transit is pro-bono, I question SBS Transit’s action of increasing its bus and train fares on one hand and potentially spending huge amount of money to defend itself over the overtime payment disputes with its bus captains by engaging the services of a top senior counsel’s law firm on the other. Surely overtime payment disputes cannot be complicated until the services of a senior counsel’s law firm need to be sought!

As a regular SBS Transit bus and train passenger, I want both the SBS Transit’s Board of Directors and its management to understand that a large percentage of its passengers and commuters are working-class people and the poorer sections of our population and so, even if money is not an issue to the company, it still should spend its money more judiciously and not splurge. I consider this to be a moral issue.

I also feel that SBS Transit, being a public listed company and a major public transport provider owes its shareholders and the general travelling public a clear and convincing explanation as to why it needs to engage the services of a top senior counsel’s law firm regarding this lawsuit that it is having with its bus captains. It shouldn’t just continue to remain silent.

Next, I have noted that those who pay cash or using single trip tickets pay a steeper fare increase of 20 cents. Haven’t it crossed the minds of those decision-makers that apart from tourists and people who travel by public transport once in a long while etc, there are still some of our truly needy citizens who simply cannot afford stored value cards but pay cash each time they board their buses or trains? A 20 cents increase may not be much to most people but to them, it can make the difference of whether they can afford to board that bus or not. Think.

This was first published on Simon Lim’s Facebook page and reproduced with permission.