THE end, it's only 10 cents.
it's only for feeder buses. So most Singaporeans who commute
from their HDB estates to work without taking one won't
even feel the fare hike.
the Government stops micro-managing market forces,
checks and balances will come from other institutions
likes a price increase, no matter how small the amount,
particularly on bread-and-butter items like public transport.
let's keep things in perspective.
all, the bulk of the proposed across-the-board fare increases
was rejected by the Public Transport Council (PTC), in light
of the economic downturn.
that's after the transport companies were made to justify
their request for fare hikes, citing rising operating costs
and improved services.
the NTUC and consumer watchdog Case have weighed in to urge
restraint on behalf of commuters.
you may say about all this being an elaborate wayang by
the powers-that-be, it's clear that consumers' concerns
on the ground are not just being blithely ignored.
it is, pundits suggest that raising a traditionally dicey
issue such as transport costs in a likely election year
seems a rather politically courageous move.
Not likely, given the economic gloom.
fact, Government higher-ups have been conspicuous by their
absence in the recent fare-hike debate, preferring to let
appointed public bodies, like the PTC, slug it out with
the transport companies.
it convenient for the Government to deal with this at arm's
but here's a different spin: It's good for market-driven
issues like transport costs to be removed from politics
we supposed to be weaned off Government intervention in
every little aspect of life here? Well, it's not possible
to have it both ways.
we accept that a liberalised, competitive transport market
is good for Singapore, then we should expect the regulators
not to entertain lobbying from special interest groups -
and that means neither big business nor consumers should
have it all their way.
doesn't mean we have to take things lying down.
fact, civic institutions like Case, NTUC and even the PTC,
which was set up as a multilateral body to regulate fares
in 1987, have stepped up their advocacy on the side of commuters.
in particular, has been a vocal champion of other consumer
causes recently, including calls to lower petrol pump prices.
themselves are coming forward as activists: Witness the
Car Against Cartel alliance and consumer advocacy groups
in the varsities here.
premise is simple. Once the Government takes a step back
from micro-managing market forces, then the checks and balances
will come from other institutions: Civic bodies, civil society
groups, and citizens themselves.
that can only help Singapore grow up a little.