Goh Meng Seng in his latest blog posting did an analysis of ridership figures[Link] on the SMRT and this is what he found:
Figures were taken from Singapore's Yearbook of Statistics 2009.
Basically, we had a population growth of 17.2% from 2003-2008 but the SMRT car kilometers was reduced by 13% during the same period. What this means is that the trains are packed roughly 30% more from 2003-2008. So the complaints of Singaporeans who say that the trains are more cramped and stuffy these days are not imagined. During this period, as service quality fell, the public transport fares went up many times.
The poorer service quality will up Singaporeans' desire to own and use cars - but the number of COEs is limited and our roads have limited capacity. COE shoots up and ERP goes up. Just 2 days ago, the govt announced that the ERP at 3 gantries will increase by a whopping 30%[Link] but that is really nothing new as ERP hikes are a regular affair[Link]. All these hikes do nothing to meet demand ...they are suppose to depress demand by hurting people in the pocket. Like I said in my previous posting the income inequality means all these hikes hurt lower middle income families hardest and create further mismatch between people's needs and distribution of a scarce resource- these hikes do not distinguish between the needs of a father has to send his child for to the hospital in a taxi and someone in a Mercedes on his way to the golf course.
There is good reason for people to be unhappy with the system. It is designed to maximise govt revenue & minimise expenditure, make good profits for GLC companies and their shareholders but failed to meet the needs of a growing population and the desire of the people for a better quality of life. In crowded land scarce cities, there has to be nothing to distract govts from it primary goal of meeting the transport needs of the people and satisfy rising expectations for better transport - the effort requires tremendous commitment and resources - anything less will naturally lead to unhappiness. There is nothing surprising about Singaporeans being unhappy with this system of COE+ERP+"for profit" public transport because it is a system that has fallen far far behind the rising aspirations of Singaporeans.