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New measures enough to keep transport competitive

I refer to the report “Govt should run public transport system: Kishore” (Oct 30), and disagree with the way Professor Kishore Mahbubani views the issue.

Chew Jek Hui

I refer to the report “Govt should run public transport system: Kishore” (Oct 30), and disagree with the way Professor Kishore Mahbubani views the issue.

The new bus contracting model and rail financing framework will keep the two incumbent transport players on their toes.

Perhaps what the Government can do for future contracts is to take into account every player’s breakdown-incident history: How often and when the breakdowns occur, how serious each one is and how service recovery progressed. Owing to the transport industry’s high capital expenditures, the Government should also look at ways to defray this cost.

We do not want rising capital expenditure on trains and buses to overburden the government budget and compete for our scarce resources, which must also be set aside for the ageing population.

One way is to loan or rent out buses to the winning players and require them to pay a rental fee related to their bus frequency. Carrots and sticks can be added according to service, maintenance and breakdown records.

Under the Bus Service Enhancement Programme, transport operators should also pay a portion of the advertising income from government-funded buses to the Government so that it can recover the money spent to help the operators.

To fill up engineering positions in the two public transport operators, a stop-gap measure would be to have frequent exchanges with the Government’s rail engineers, who could teach and share knowledge with junior engineers joining the operators.

In future, the maintenance teams from the various transport players should get together to share their experience. This would combat Singapore’s shortfall in engineering talent.

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