mollymeek (mollymeek) wrote,

Public Transport: SBS's FAQ

Since the mr brown saga hasn’t really made any new turns (other than Mr. Miyagi’s resignation from Today), Molly shall blog about other things such as public transport since people are saying that bus fare hikes are quite likely to take place.

Fare hikes certainly improve the service. For instance, instead of waiting half an hour for a cab when she refuses to book one, yesterday Molly waited only about 15 minutes for a cab. Isn’t that great?

And, as Molly once commented to a reader, it’s also interesting that the taxi companies can lengthen peak hours. In school, Molly learned that peak hours are the hours during which there are most commuters traveling. Alas! That wasn’t too accurate. Peak hours are actually hours transport companies decide to call peak hours so that they can collect more fares. So, theoretically, 6.00 a.m. could well be within the peak hours in future. So can 11.30 a.m. or 2.30 p.m. As far as I can see, this is as good as making the fare for entering a cab $4.50 for many people. And to think those ungrateful cabbies bear a grudge against the kind taxi companies trying to help them earn their living.

What is equally amazing is that there can be multiple sets of peak hours. A particular taxi company redefines “peak hour.” Its sister, the bus company, in the same conglomerate doesn’t have to feel obliged to also similarly extend its peak hour frequencies.

That reminds me of another confusing time distortion. (Yes, don’t think only mr brown is capable of distortions.) In school, Molly learns that “a.m.” is for 12 midnight to before 12 noon whereas “p.m.” is for 12 noon to before 12 midnight. But when Molly looks at the cute and neat bus frequency tables in bus stops, she realizes that the frequencies are divided 4 periods: a.m. peak, a.m. off-peak, p.m. peak and p.m. off peak.

Then I read more carefully and realized that a.m. is said to end some time about 4.20 p.m.

This is so confusing. Miss Tan didn’t teach us this. :(

Anyway, today Molly shall try to be constructive and help her beloved bus companies out. Molly sees more and more crowds in buses, so the bus companies are probably very busy adjusting schedules. To help the overworked souls out, Molly decides to give some constructive suggestions regarding SBS’s FAQ page which, as far as Molly can see, is modeled after the templates their customer relations people use when they reply to your complaints. What a treasure. *Rubs hands*

“Sometimes, two buses of the same service arrive at the same time with one bus being overcrowded and the other almost empty. Why?

The reason for this is largely due to adverse traffic conditions on the road and other conditions such as road closure, diversions, weather, accidents etc. Indeed, more than 70% of our delays or bunching are due to these reasons.”

Yes, but what about the other 30% or so? Scheduled bus bunching? This is what people are concerned about. To prevent troublesome people from bothering you, you should address this issue in your FAQ section.

“It is easier for me to alight from the bus if I stand near the exit door, why should I move to the rear of the bus?

The capacity of a bus is a combination of its seating and standing capacity. When passengers fail to move to the rear and prefer to stand near the exit door, the flow of passengers becomes restricted within the bus. This will cause delay as the Bus Captain would have to appeal to passengers to move in to make space for others to board.”

Yes, yes, yes. But the maximum capacity of a bus isn’t the compulsory load it must take for every trip. So you dearies of SBS, what people really want to know is why your buses must be so crowded that people have to squeeze themselves to the rear in the first place. And after passengers ‘move’ to the rear, why do people have to be clinging on to some pole (or no pole) desperately while standing on the steps of the buses?

And speaking of delays, when people try to squeeze their way out from the rear, they delay the bus too. It seems like a die-die situation.

No point pointing fingers at fastidious passengers, accusing them of lacking bus etiquette. Not everyone loves crowds like Molly does.

“Why does the Bus Captain drive so slowly?

. . . When traffic conditions are especially clear, our Bus Captains are required to regulate speed if they notice that they are ahead of schedule. This ensures that the Bus Captains keep the arrival times at the bus stops as close to the planned schedule as possible to avoid any disruption like bus bunching.”

This sounds very reasonable. But, again, what people want to know is whether you ever deliberately schedule buses so that drivers are compelled to drive slowly in order to be on schedule (so that one bus can pick up more passengers and be more crowded so that you make more profits). This is what complainers out there want to know! Molly isn’t one of them, but your FAQ page should cater to their irresponsible, partisan questions.

“Can SBS Transit deploy more air-conditioned buses?

Previously, the authority put a limit to the number of air-conditioned buses we can own so as to give commuters a choice between taking air-conditioned or non air-conditioned buses. Hence, we ended up buying more non air-conditioned buses than air-conditioned buses. The limitation on the number of air-conditioned buses has since been lifted and SBS Transit has committed to having a fully air-conditioned bus fleet.

But as we have purchased more non air-conditioned buses in the past due to the limitation, we must be prudent in the pace we replace the non air-conditioned buses to air-conditioned ones as to keep cost low and fares affordable. To achieve that, the replacement of the non-air-conditioned buses has to be done progressively. All non air-conditioned buses that are in good serviceable condition will continue to be deployed and will be replaced when they reach their statutory lives.”

Muhahahaha!!!!! Even Molly can’t help you this time. The what authority put a limit to the number of aircon buses????

Molly remembers (but she might have remembered wrongly) that, just a few years ago, a particular bus company was looking so pitiful when asking for fare hikes because the operating costs had increased and even air-conditioning has become a criteria of service standards set by the PTC.

And, as far as Molly knows, the PTC had set a minimum 80% air-con fleet for many years already. I don’t know what authority there is to blame. After all, SMRT Bus has a fully aircon fleet.

And what’s the best thing here? You don’t even want to tell us when the “newest” non-aircon bus is going to survive till. For another 15 years?

And you haven't explained why non-aircon buses are deployed only for certain services going to certain areas and not evenly spread across all services.

“Some of the air-conditioned buses are either too cold or too warm. Why cant [sic.] the Bus Captain adjust the temperature?

The Bus Captains are not able to adjust the temperature. The temperature is automatically adjusted using climatic control. It is a fact that generally, you will feel colder in the morning and not as cold in the afternoon in the air-conditioned bus due to the external ambient temperature although the settings of the air-condition remained unchanged.”

Cham lah. Molly cannot help you again. The question is “Why can’t the Bus Captain adjust the temperature.” And the answer is that the bus captains cannot adjust the temperature! And so how is the temperature adjusted? Via climatic control! What climatic control? You control the climate?? Or the climate controls the air-con? (If so, what’s the point of having air-conditioning?)

And darlings, don’t take Molly for a fool lah. Molly is a bimbo, not a fool. Do you expect Molly to believe your logic when she takes three buses within the same hour (thanks to your clever planning of routes) and one of them is hot, another stuffy and yet another cold? If the air-con isn’t spoilt, then the “climatic control” system must be faulty. But the last time Molly told you about a bus with bad air-conditioning (she transferred from one with proper air-con), you insisted that there wasn’t a single problem with the aircon.

Maybe Singapore’s weather is so eccentric that it changes each time I take a bus.

Try harder next time.

“The bus advertisements pasted on the bus windows get in our way. Can the advertisements be removed?

. . . [W]hen we first introduced wholly painted buses, we adopted on our own accord, a guideline of covering less than one third of the window space on our buses. In addition, for the covered areas we made sure that the material used is highly perforated to allow passengers to see through the windows in the day and night. . . .”

Oh, covering one third of the total window area is fair enough. Just don’t complain when people refuse to sit at the particular pane that is fully covered.

And Molly admits to having poor eyesight. Somehow she just can’t see through the ads. But that’s really Molly’s fault, Molly’s business.

“The programmes on TV Mobile are either in English or Mandarin. How about Malay or Tamil progammes? Also, the sound is too loud. Why cant we have a peaceful bus ride?

. . . According to the latest ACNielsen survey, . . . 76% of the commuters surveyed agree that TV Mobile make their bus journeys more pleasant. 72% feel that the volume is just right.”

Apparently the people surveyed and the people I know are two mutually exclusive groups.

Volume is just right. Heh.

Somehow, in Singapore, there is no democracy except when appeals to democracy works against the people.

“Why does SBS Transit seem to be looking only at fare increase to improve their profits?

We would like to clarify that it is insufficient for us to depend on fare increases to maintain our profits. Our fare increase in 2005 was 1.8% after the introduction of a $3.45 million package to help mitigate the impact of the fare increase on certain group of passengers like the senior citzens. The package included a contribution of $1.15million to the Public Transport Fund for the needy. Against this, the fuel price increase was almost 50%. As such, we do look at other ways like cost saving measures and improvement of our productivity to improve our profits.

Indeed, our fares are very affordable, over the last 18 years, wages have gone up by an average of 182% but fares for our buses have gone up by only 17%.”

Dearies, you are inviting trouble. Since you say that it’s insufficient to depend on fare hikes to MAINTAIN your PROFITS and you make the fare hikes sound so meager, people are just going to tell you to forget about the fare hikes altogether instead of asking for them every year.

And yes, if wages go up by 182 and every single consumer good has to follow suit, we would still be part of the Third World and our beloved MM Lee would not have been able to write at least one of his books. Don’t be a partisan player in politics!

Actually, you shouldn't say that your fares are affordable. It's cheap but not affordable because a lot of people are so poor that even have a so-called 182% wage increase, they cannot afford it. If you say this, people will at least know it's not SBS's fault but it's a social problem to which, er, we have to find a solution and not just complain like mr brown.
Tags: bus, bus services, cab, public transport, sbs, taxi

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