22 January 2008

A Public Fantasy

One of my fondest fantasies of late is one that cannot be spoken out too loudly in public, for you never know who is listening. However, as each month pass me by, the small fantasy grows bigger and bigger, until at times, the weight of it upon my heart makes me listless and dissatisfied until something is done about it.

Yet I know, my fantasy shall remain precisely that--a fantasy, a dream that will not become reality, and that knowledge wipes the smile off my face and takes the spring out of my step.

*Deep breath*

It is my deep desire to go out in the middle of the night, like a caped crusader, hacking down the towering behemoths of Evil and Stupidity--the ERP Gantries that are erected to redirect traffic flow but instead, redirects our cashflow. Gantries that are obviously futile in easing the traffic problems in this petite island nation, and yet are touted as The Only Way of solving the jam.

What happens when these Gatekeepers don't work? Why, if they don't work, it must be because there isn't enough of them! That's why we need NEW ones at Toa Payoh, Ang Mo Kio, Kallang and Bendemeer! Heavens forbid that people go into town via alternate routes! Gahmen forbids that people travel NEAR town without paying anything! If we must erect more Gantries, extend their operational time, increase the fares, then by george, we shall! Pockets of the commuters be damned! Their cashcards are our new cashcows!

It is as though the Minister of Transport's job is to make transport as painful as possible, for a reason that completely eludes my comprehension--I must be not cleber enough to understand. These ERP Gantries create more problems than they solve. Like a massive jam along CTE that goes on past 10pm on weekday nights. Or that people end up paying ~$6 when they go through a few Gantries within a short distance because that's the route they have to take. That's just too bad, isn't it?

Another problem the ERP contributed to is the cab shortage in town. Taxi drivers are reluctant to enter town during ERP operational hours because it's a cost to be borne, and who knows if there is anyone flagging a cab down in town. Might as well coast around until someone calls, therefore justifying the $0.50 / $1.00 / etc it costs to drive in.

So we have a cab shortage in town during peak hours. HMMM, how should we solve this problem? Why, by increasing the cost of taking taxi, of course! A simple matter of demand and supply, Economics 101--simply increase the price andddd... whaddya know, you get an overwhelming increase in supply!! Tadaaa, old problem solved.

What? New problem created--too many taxis, no customers now? No lah, after a while, they will get used to it one, just wait and see. Never mind that cab fare increased by almost 50% suddenly and all the statistics reported in the Straits Times sound much rosier than real life. Never mind that the taxi drivers also need to make a living and that by increasing the cab fare so drastically, their income drops drastically because now no one wants to take taxi! That can't possibly be the case--Singaporeans are getting big bonuses, just look at how they did their Christmas shopping. Right? Right!

In my little world, public transport is an unavoidable aspect of my life. It's an area that is getting more and more frustrating to face, for thinking too much about it will simply get you heated up with nowhere to turn to, except for a little page on the WWW. Can you stop the ERP Gantries from being erected? No, but you can fantasize about zapping them to death. Will the taxi fares go down? For the sake of the drivers as well as the commuters, I certainly hope so, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it to happen.

A set of superpowers that must be really useful to have when going about the daily transportation grind will be these:
- ERP Stunner / Zapper
Stuns the ERP Gantry into silence, therefore allowing your vehicle to drive by FOC.
- The Pusher-Backer-Forcefield
When activated, causes all those standing along the aisle of a crowded bus, ignoring the squashed commuters trying to board the bus while gawking at TV Mobile to be pushed to the back by an invisible force.
- The Discount-Giver-Taxi-Driver 6th Sense
Can sense which taxi driver hates the price hike as much as you and is willing to drive without the surcharge (cos they actually do make more that way, with the increased demand.)


The Singapore Daily said...

Hi QuirkieKai,

Your post has been featured at the Singapore Daily [singaporedaily.wordpress.com]. Keep blogging!

Anonymous said...

It's a bloody joke to say... make the commuter the centre of the transport system ... AFTER they HIKED bus, mrt, taxi and more erp gantries !

One of the biggest load of Bull Poo we've been Made to hear!

George said...

Therein lies the problem when you have ex-military men in charge. They got so used to the habit of using the SOP in response to a situation that they fail to think anymore.

You know the saying that generals usually train (their troops) to fight the LAST war.

Notice how the govt approaches virtually every problem with an SOP response. The civil servants would simply recommend more of the same, and the ministers for lack of expertise and time would agree -kneejerk reactions all the way.

The ends justify the means - every action it takes invariably ended up with the people paying for it, in all senses o the word.

And we are paying them A+++ rates for such C- grade solution.

Anonymous said...

Oooo... singaporedaily! *cheer*

Xtrocious said...

Yah, just a load of bullcrap...

Anyway, how would more ERP gantries help, especially after drivers realise that it is still cheaper to drive through the gantry than using an alternative (often longer) route given the high petrol prices!!

Example - 1 litre of 98 petrol costs S$2 and an average car gets at best 10km/litre...

So isn't it sheer madness to drive 10km more to avoid paying S$1 gantry...and this is more so for those driving bigger cc cars...