Public Transport Council (Amendment) Bill

Madam Speaker,

I welcome the new role of the PTC corporation. The new PTC aimed to undertake surveys obtaining public feedback will be an important platform for ensuring a more sustainable public transport system. On this note, I would like to propose that the PTC be allowed to explore deregulation of our public transport service.

I understand that the bus service license is a tool to help control and regulate bus service quality. But there are merits for deregulations – we allow Singaporeans to create the most fitting solutions for their transport problems.

Bearing in mind that our public transport infrastructure is waning, we must explore the opportunity to loosen our regulations and ensure private sector capacity can help service our citizens. I can imagine how unquenched public demand for transport can create private bus services. I can also imagine how our bottlenecks during peak hours can be solved.

Moreover, it is a global trend for urban residents to solve their own problems related to scarcity of resources by means of sharing excess capacity. I think the trend is called “the sharing economy”.

Regarding the formation of the Public Transport Fund, my concern is the complexity of the entity. Surely the public bus and rail operators are already making contributions to the government. Why then would there be a need for another fund unless the intention is to create a few more jobs for civil servants that have already reached their CEP. A new fund will require new expenses and will incur management fees. Unless we can see the incremental value of the fund, it may not be wise to create another financial entity. Surely we have existing bodies to handle the payments.

Lastly, I refer to the pricing policy of cab rides. I understand the rationale for consistency. But we must take into consideration the effects of tionsreal time information. These days, both passengers and drivers have access to applications that can work out the balance between demand and supply. The most efficient way to match demand to supply in the short term is by allowing prices to surge. If we do not create a system that facilitates the change in price, we will create a black market. This is a bigger concern. Surge pricing is happening for Uber around the world.

The government’s role should not be to micromanage the market. I think we need to think about expanding the fleet of taxis in Singapore. The common argument is that we have sufficient taxis and the bottleneck demand can never be met. Let the data do the talking. Conduct a study and compare the ratios of taxis per citizen. Let us adopt a tighter touch towards regulations.

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