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Transport is like dining

By BenCee on 22 Aug 2011

Attached Image: singapore_traffic.jpg

I was chatting with a friend from the industry recently, and the topic inevitably came to Singapore's transport system.

I drew an analogy that compared transport to dining, and said that driving is like having a buffet, and public transport is equivalent to a la carte meals.

Let me explain further.

It's very simple. When you purchase a car, you pay a hefty fee up front, much like you would pay a bit more at a buffet.

What you're paying for, is the FREEDOM, to eat whatever you want, at your own time and free will.

So similarly, a car is meant for personal transport, to be used whenever the owner wants, needs and requires. After all, he/she paid for it. A hefty sum no less.

Public transport, like a la carte dining, is paid only when the services are needed. You pay as you use, only if required.

Put in that perspective, things like ERP actually don't seem to make sense.

It's like saying, you go and pay for a buffet meal, and then you get charged some more when you take your food.

Makes sense to you? No, me neither.

I understand that some sort of restriction is required to help control the traffic population on our tiny island, but the way it is being implemented puzzles me greatly.

If the Government is really against cars, then they can do the easy thing and just ban cars outright.

If they simply want car buyers to use public transport more, then that's not going to happen if cars cost a bomb to purchase, because nobody in their right mind will pay 100 grand and leave their expensive possession sitting at home to rot. That's simply illogical. To everyday people anyway.

And add to the fact that public transport costs are ever increasing, and that it still isn't effective enough (according to regular users), then the Government is really shooting themselves in the foot.

It is policies like these that make us citizens feel that the Government is only out for money. No wonder Singaporeans are upset.

I can share all sorts of tales about how public transport systems are so much better in other countries, but I'm sure most of you already know full well that they are.

Mr Transport Minister, please explain to us what is the country's stance on public and private transport.

Because I, for one, simply do not get it.

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Written by BenCee
A petrolhead from young, Ben is living the dream, writing about cars...

  • 1
TandemAssassin Aug 22 2011 10:25 PM
Think about it this way. The government ain't against buffets. They are against people who go to the buffet and overeat. Taking more food than necessary to fill their stomachs; this causes wastage and waiting times as the buffet queue gets longer and the buffet food runs out more quickly and takes longer to get replenished. So what is the best way to make sure you don't overeat? Change the buffet concept. You still pay a hefty price to step into the restaurant but you are forced to pay a la carte prices every time you take something to eat. It resembles a buffet less and less when the a la carte prices become more and more expensive. If we can raise the price to make it a super bad deal, i.e. charge more than Morton's for every steak you take in the buffet, eventually people will stop eating at the buffet. But they can still choose to if they are rich and don't care about the $$. So the solution to solve the ineffectiveness of ERP is to raise it to the price of average taxi fares. Say about $20.
Watwheels Aug 23 2011 08:42 AM
What a narrow point of view. Our roads are like the arteries of our economy, the vehicles are like the blood which bring the imports, exports, food and daily necessities island wide to keep the economy going. Too much intervention the country will suffer, too little it will also suffer. The policy in place is not perfect but it's needed to be there to act as a heart to regulate the blood flow to keep it healthy.
Your narrow point of view only sees the roads for yourself to use. Why not take a few steps back to see the bigger picture. If only it's as simple as dining.
Paddie Aug 23 2011 09:37 AM
No one is arguing the need for usage control to keep the roads free flowing. The point is, if there is going to be such a measure in place, what is the purpose of the high ARF we pay upfront on our cars? And how about the silly road tax system which taxes larger capacity cars so heavily? Are all these really necessary? There should be just 2 controls - COE to limit the number of cars on the road, and ERP to control usage.
Ilmw Aug 23 2011 02:57 PM
I'm not an econs expert but I remember something from my class. You can look at cost as a combo of two components: there's fixed cost and variable cost. fixed cost is like your ARF, road tax, etc and variable cost is your ERP, petrol tax, etc.

Sure you can take out fixed cost and add it to variable. Overall remains the same, but cost is entirely in the variable component, with zero fixed.

Now, consider, is this the right thing to do? Is there a reason for the fixed component?
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