A short reply to Mr Hri Kumar on the $1.1bil bus package

7 Mar

While I applaud govt’s effort and intentions to solve the transport woes, I am still unconvinced that govt is subsidising the commuter. Mr Hri Kumar argues that govt cannot mandate PTOs to provide additional 550 buses as this goes beyond the current regulatory framework. One wonders why this regulatory framework was not reviewed in 2004-2005 when govt was allowing and planning for a heavier inflow of migration. If this was done, PTOs would have at least 5 years to improve their service standards including going to capital markets to raise funds via sale of bonds, rights issue or placement shares.   

Another point to make is that PTOs are privatised coperations along with rail operations and yet it seems that govt is eager to make a distinction between them. Bus operations are not making money and hence PTOs are unable (or reluctant??) to invest in them, and hence govt has to step in. Doesn’t this defeat the whole argument of privatisation in the first place where different segments of the listed business is suppose to complement and subsidise one another? 

Mr Hri Kumar is arguing that PTOs will not make a single cent from the $1.1bil bus package. Is that the point?? Perhaps he doesn’t understand that Singaporeans are unhappy precisely because govt has to step in to fund this $1.1bil – it shows that the system is broken. How many more $1.1bil ‘subsidy for commuters’ would we have down this public road?  

We are glad that govt is finally looking at improving the bus system but surely there must be a long-term solution to the problem. 


p.s. if u follow farming news, these creative arguments by the govt sounds vaguely familiar to american govt subsidising their farmers year after year.  

p.s. Mr Hri Kumar, thank u for sharing your thoughts. 


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