I was on a Circle Line train when it broke down. My train which was very crowded stopped at one of the stations and there was an announcement saying that the train was delayed. 20-30 minutes later we were told the Circle Line was down and everyone scrambled out. I took a bus (not the emergency one but normal service) to a satellite town where I tried to get a cab at a taxi stand. Waited more than half an hour before I was able to get one. The train failed and the effects cascaded into the taxi system because everyone would be trying to dial for a cab and the availability falls to zero- I tried calling Comfort-Delgro but the system wasn't able to allocate a taxi after 20 minutes. Got to work about 1 hour 15 minutes late.
With a public transport that is so crowded and uncomfortable during rush hour, there is little wonder why people want a car. The problem in Singapore is we have a quota system that guarantees the majority of people cannot own a car and have to use the public transport system.
The main problem with the COE system it allocates a scarce resource based on a person's ability to pay rather than his needs. A middle income parent who has to ferry his children to school and take his parents to hospital can be out-bidded by a multi-millionaires's son who uses the car for dates and clubbing. The disadvantage of such a system is it causes an ever widening gap of unfulfilled demand among those with the greatest need for a car. In Singapore, where the income gap is so wide, over time more and more COEs will just go the rich rather than people who need it.
If you look at our transport system as a whole, it looks like it is designed to maximise revenue for the govt (today's COE bidding total revenue collected is S$110M!) and profits for govt linked companies. All the parts work together to generate plenty of frustration, unhappiness and financial strain for the ordinary Singaporean. The thing is this system seems to be getting worse and adds to the many bits that makes life tougher in Singapore.