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Old September 18th, 2004, 10:35 AM   #201
ignoramus
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Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit & Light Rapid Transit (Part #2)

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Old September 21st, 2004, 12:23 PM   #202
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Business Times - 21 Sep 2004

SMRT, LTA rule out barriers at MRT stations

Barriers cannot effectively prevent trespassing

By TAILA KRISHNAKUMAR

SMRT Corporation and the Land Transport Authority have ruled out installing railings and half-height barriers as a safety measure at open-station MRT and LRT platforms.

'Physical barriers, such as metal railings and half-height barriers cannot effectively prevent trespassing onto the tracks as commuters can still enter the tracks by going through the openings or climbing over the barriers. Such barriers may also pose a safety hazard if commuters get trapped between the barriers and the train doors,' they said in a joint statement. 'A balance needs to be struck between excessive installation of safety features and how such measures would exact a cost on the provision of public transport services,' the statement added.

But both the rail operator and the LTA assured the public that they take a serious view of the safety of commuters. SMRT has enhanced the safety measures at stations with open platforms. Their reiteration of their commitment to safety came as a spate of incidents at MRT station platforms raised concerns over commuters' safety.

'Eight-seven per cent of the cases where commuters were found trespassing on the tracks at aboveground MRT and LRT stations in the last 13 years were non-accidental acts. For the safety of commuters, the operators will step up enforcement against those who violate the instruction not to step beyond the yellow line until the train has stopped at the station,' said LTA and SMRT.

Despite various safety measures in place, there have been more than 220 cases where commuters have jumped onto train tracks since 1991. The cases of non-accidental trespass included commuters jumping onto the tracks to retrieve personal items, commuters taking short cuts and acts of suicide.

Commuters who ignore instructions not to cross the yellow line until the train has stopped can be fined up to $500. Those caught trespassing on the tracks can be fined up to $5,000.

Copyright © 2004 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old September 21st, 2004, 12:24 PM   #203
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Business Times - 21 Sep 2004

Hock Lock Siew
With media deal done, is transport next?

By WONG WEI KONG

SO WILL the public transport sector see a consolidation similar to that in the media industry? The stock market seems to think so. Shares of transportation group ComfortDelgro Corp rose yesterday, for instance, on speculation that such a consolidation may be looming.

After all, there are similarities between the two industries. The perceived need for competition had led the government to open up both sectors. Then came the realisation that the market here may not be able to support such competition, with the government then indicating that it would not block the players from calling it quits if they so wished.

Now that Singapore Press Holdings and MediaCorp - after losing millions of dollars - have reached a compromise on TV and free-newspaper competition, it looks like it may be the turn next for ComfortDelgro (and its listed subsidiary SBS Transit) and rival SMRT Corp. Indeed, it can be argued that competition makes less sense in public transport than in media, even when putting the financial numbers aside.

Both ComfortDelgro and SMRT operate rail, bus and taxi services. With the exception perhaps of taxis, there is actually no real competition between the bus and rail operations run by ComfortDelgro and SMRT.

For one thing, both companies have limited pricing power, since bus and rail fare revisions require the approval of the Public Transport Council. For another, route rationalisation means little overlap in services, leaving commuters usually with no choice but to take whatever is available. So competing for customers - or ridership in this case - does not take place.

If the public transport sector is to be truly rationalised, there is really only one logical conclusion: one rail operator and one bus operator, and eventually perhaps just one super land transport company.

ComfortDelgro, which grew out of the merger between taxi operator Comfort and bus operator Delgro, is the dominant bus and taxi player in the market. However, its unit SBS Transit also operates a rail service, the North East Line (NEL), which has been incurring losses from lower-than-expected ridership since it began operations in June 2003. The government built the NEL at a cost of almost $5 billion and SBS Transit is said to have spent an estimated $100 million in operating costs. The good news is that losses from NEL have been narrowing; in the second quarter, losses fell to $5.4 million from $7.2 million a year ago.

But NEL isn't the end of ComfortDelgro's rail challenge. The government will hand over the Punggol Light Rapid Transit (LRT) system to SBS Transit to run by the end of this year. Will there be enough ridership? Given recent reports suggesting that fewer people than expected are moving to live in Punggol, a new town, there is the possibility that Punggol could mean more losses for the ComfortDelgro group.

On the other hand, SMRT, the dominant rail operator, will be better placed to run new rail lines like NEL and Punggol given its economies of scale. Consolidation should see SMRT take over ComfortDelgro's rail lines, becoming the sole rail operator, while ComfortDelgro takes over SMRT's buses and becomes the sole public bus service provider.

Once that happens, a merger between the two to create a super land transport group is a distinct possibility, a move that would boost their regional potential - ComfortDelgro has already built up significant overseas operations while SMRT is keenly exploring opportunities abroad.

The devil, of course, will be in the details. The SPH-MediaCorp deal involved just one listed company, but any such consolidation in the public transport sector would involve three listed companies: ComfortDelgro, SBS Transit and SMRT. But the ComfortDelgro group counts the Singapore Labour Foundation as its biggest shareholder while for SMRT, it is Temasek Holdings. With the two dominant shareholders both linked to the government, a deal may come sooner than expected, especially if it makes commercial sense.

Copyright © 2004 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old September 21st, 2004, 12:39 PM   #204
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The New Paper - 21 Sep 2004

Switch to luxury travel... by bus

By Celine Lim
[email protected]

EVEN as airlines are going budget, bus companies are switching to luxury.

From leather seats to on-demand movies from the touch-screen LCD monitor of your personal entertainment system and even a hostess to serve you meals.

Express bus company Transtar Travel will start the new service from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur (KL) next month. Each year, thousands head north, to places like Kuala Lumpur, in coaches. Little surprise then that bus companies are sprucing up their coaches.

For a first-class seat on Transtar's coaches, a one-way ticket from Singapore to KL will cost $56 while the rate from KL to Singapore is RM88($39).

Mr Tony Chiang, 60, a retiree who does freelance marketing consulting, travels to KL from Singapore two or three times a month 'for leisure'.

He usually makes the trip on Super VIP coaches because it is 'more convenient than taking a plane and takes almost the same amount of time'.

'I have to travel to the airport, check in my bag, go through immigration and take a taxi from the KL airport to the town area.'

All in all, it usually takes more than four hours. A coach would take about half an hour more.

Passengers board the new first-class coaches at Transtar Travel outlets at Lavender MRT, Boon Lay and Golden Mile Complex and their final stop is at the new Imbi Bus Terminal at Pasar Rakyat, which is about a 10-minute taxi ride from KL's Times Square.

Transtar Travel estimates that 20,000 people travelled by express coach from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur last year.

Lawyer Lawrence Tan, 57, usually drives between KL and Singapore at least twice a month for work.

When he started commuting in 1992, he did not want to take a bus as it was 'pretty boring'.

But these days, he often takes the double-decker express coaches run by Nice bus company.

'I would go for the new first-class express coach if I really want to relax. I won't mind paying a little more since I arrive refreshed.'

Copyright © 2004 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old September 26th, 2004, 05:45 PM   #205
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Quote:
Originally Posted by babystan03
Business Times - 21 Sep 2004

Hock Lock Siew
With media deal done, is transport next?

By WONG WEI KONG

SO WILL the public transport sector see a consolidation similar to that in the media industry? The stock market seems to think so. Shares of transportation group ComfortDelgro Corp rose yesterday, for instance, on speculation that such a consolidation may be looming.
I think this is practically the hot topic for discussion of late. What do you guys think about it? Should SMRT just do the rail network, while Delgro goes back to buses only?
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Old September 28th, 2004, 11:48 PM   #206
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Rivalry 'won't work for MRT'

By Christopher Tan


THE chairman of ComfortDelGro, Mr Lim Jit Poh, wants one operator for trains and another for buses because 'it's plain to see that competition for certain industries doesn't work in a small economy such as ours'.

He expressed his reservations on competition when asked to comment on the possibility of SMRT Corp taking over the money-losing North-East MRT Line (NEL) now run by ComfortDelGro's subsidiary, SBS Transit.

It is a view that mirrors events in the media industry last week when rivals Singapore Press Holdings and MediaCorp consolidated their positions by merging their mass-market television and free-newspaper operations.

Mr Lim told The Straits Times: 'It is in my opinion better to centralise the rail and bus operations; that is, have one operator for each.'

While insisting that such a plan was not under way, he indicated that one possibility would be for SBS to sell the NEL to SMRT and buy its bus business, which SMRT acquired for $194 million in 2001.

'Let the different modes compete with each other and let commuters decide which to choose from,' Mr Lim said, noting that taxis, the third mode, 'are already deregulated, with three more new players on the scene'.

'At the end of the day, this will be best for all,' he said.

The potential of a deal between the transport operators was first floated by Transport Minister Yeo Cheow Tong last year, when he said the Government would not object to a merger of rail operations.

He reiterated it soon after, saying SMRT will automatically operate all future lines if it took over the NEL.

With the media merger, talk of a rail deal resurfaced. Yesterday, the speculation drove ComfortDelGro's share price five cents higher to a record $1.36.

It surpassed most analysts' price targets for the year as a hefty 15.34 million shares changed hands, putting it fifth on the list of most active stocks.

SMRT's shares moved half a cent higher to 70 cents on a trading volume of 2.64 million shares.

Said one analyst: 'The benefit of a deal is seen to be more immediate for ComfortDelGro. It will stem its losses on the North-East Line, which is about $20 million a year. The benefit for SMRT, however, is a bit more longer term in nature.'

Observers see the two transport operators facing similar challenges as the media companies.

One has a money-losing rail business, while the other has a small and not-so-profitable bus operation.

But unlike SPH and MediaCorp, which had been talking for about two years, the transport companies, sources said, had met only once on the issue.

'So far, there is nothing,' said SMRT chief executive Saw Phaik Hwa yesterday, maintaining that it did not make sense to pay for a money-losing company.

But she is not saying never, adding that 'it all depends on the deal'.

However, Ms Adele Yeo, an analyst at investment bank JP Morgan, said investors should not hold their breath for a deal.

'We do not see such plans in the near term,' she said.

A ComfortDelGro insider said yesterday: 'If we have to pay SMRT to take over the line, we might as well run it ourselves.'

The Straits Times understands that consultants engaged to assess the NEL had concluded that it would be profitable in the long run.

Analysts concur.

Kim Eng Securities transport analyst Lisa Lee said the 20km line would lose about $18 million this year and will 'break even in 2007 or 2008'.
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Old September 30th, 2004, 08:29 PM   #207
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Put competition back into public transport

I READ with interest about Singapore Press Holdings and MediaCorp merging their TV and free-sheet operations, in which it was stated that the two media giants have been competing in each other's traditional domains since limited competition was granted in the media sector in 2000, and that both companies have been incurring 'continuing losses' in their respective ventures.

I am glad that the authorities finally realised that Singapore is too small a market to support competition in the media sector. Similarly, the authorities should rethink its competition strategy for the public-transport sector. SBS Transit was given the right to operate the North East Line (NEL) to provide competition to train operator SMRT. Similarly, SMRT was given the green light to merge with Tibs so that it could provide bus services.

The whole idea of competition was to give commuters more choices in the procurement of transport services. Therefore, in order to compete for commuters, the operators would have to improve their services, be it in faster and more comfortable travel or in more competitive pricing.

However, in this case, the 'competition' created did not result in more choices as the two companies essentially service very different routes; there was no real competition.

To make matters worse, to reduce overheads and duplication within the companies, there was mass rationalisation of bus routes so that buses would not travel the same routes as the MRT. This resulted in fewer choices for commuters going from one place to another, not to mention their having to pay more due to the high construction and maintenance costs of NEL. The whole purpose of competition was defeated.

Real competition and the resulting benefits can be achieved only if two companies or more are allowed to compete on the same routes. Of course, I am not suggesting building another NEL or having two buses from the different companies travelling the same route.

However, competition can still be achieved by different operators offering different modes of travel. For example, commuters willing to pay slightly more can take the MRT for a faster ride, while those who wish to travel more economically can do so on the buses.

Alternatively, if the authorities finally decide that Singapore is too small for real competition, we could perhaps consider merging the transport operators to achieve economy of scale and improve efficiency.

Hopefully, commuters would then be able to benefit from better services and prices, which are what they want ultimately.

SEAH KOK TIONG
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Old September 30th, 2004, 08:31 PM   #208
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Buses, trains should complement one another, not compete

I REFER to the report that the chairman of ComfortDelGro, Mr Lim Jit Poh, suggested having separate operators for rail and bus services ('Rivalry 'won't work for MRT'; ST, Sept 21). He was reported as saying, 'Let the different modes compete with each other and let commuters decide which to choose.'

I don't agree. Buses and trains should not compete, but should instead complement one another to create a seamless and fully integrated transportation system.

If the two transport modes are allowed to compete, it would lead to a divergence of interests, with each operator trying to pull commuters away from the other. The result will be a messy system of duplicated or redundant services and non-alignment of bus and rail routes. Eventually, it will lead to higher costs for commuters on both modes.

Please, let us not compete for the sake of competing, but look at the broader objectives of the transportation system and, more importantly, the cost and benefit to the eventual stakeholders: ordinary Singaporeans.

I urge the authorities to seriously rethink any proposal for such inter-modal competition if we are serious about wanting to maintain Singapore's world-class transportation system.

EDWIN YEO TEE YEOK
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Old October 3rd, 2004, 04:11 AM   #209
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Time is GMT + 8 hours
Posted: 01 October 2004 1535 hrs

SBS Transit introduces new vehicle location system in more routes
By Pearl Forss, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : The Vehicle Location System (VLS) will be introduced on another 10 SBS Transit service routes starting Monday.

They are service numbers 225, 229, 262, 269, 273, 292, 317, 333, 334 and 335.

SBS Transit says this addition follows the successful launch of the system over the last three months on 15 service routes.

The VLS allows for the automated updating of fare stages through a satellite-based bus tracking system.

Once the bus position is determined automatically, bus drivers no longer need to update the fare stages manually, and this will eradicate human error in the updating of fare stages and hence, ensure accurate fare deduction.

To inform commuters about the VLS, posters and decals will be displayed at Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bukit Merah, Jurong East, Serangoon and Tampines Bus Interchanges where the ten services are operating from. - CNA

Copyright © 2004 MCN International Pte Ltd
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Old October 3rd, 2004, 09:03 PM   #210
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If they are finally so interested in tracking the buses, then why dont they revive that old plan to actually give REAL TIME arrival times for each bus service at bus stops?
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Old October 4th, 2004, 01:00 AM   #211
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huaiwei
If they are finally so interested in tracking the buses, then why dont they revive that old plan to actually give REAL TIME arrival times for each bus service at bus stops?
Yup....I'm waiting for that.....so "sick" of waiting for buses.......
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Old October 7th, 2004, 10:53 PM   #212
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Quote:
Originally Posted by babystan03
Yup....I'm waiting for that.....so "sick" of waiting for buses.......
Unfortunately, they dont seem to have the brains to use it for that purpose, prefering to push the thing through only because they want to reduce pricing descrepencies?

Do they need a reminder that private companies arent always going to consider the interests of consumers who are almost 100% reliant on their services?
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Old October 12th, 2004, 08:29 AM   #213
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When island-wide ERP implementation?

Does anyone know when the govt. is going to roll out an island-wide ERP system?

Does this mean we will enjoy reduced ARF rates and road tax as well?

Would all these mean even cheaper COEs for us?
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Old October 12th, 2004, 08:48 PM   #214
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Quote:
Originally Posted by renyeo
Does anyone know when the govt. is going to roll out an island-wide ERP system?

Does this mean we will enjoy reduced ARF rates and road tax as well?

Would all these mean even cheaper COEs for us?
Wah...where did you hear of these plans from? I do know that the government is thinking of shifting the taxation system based on a "per usage" rather then "capital acquisition" basis, but I didnt know they are going to actually impliment that?

Btw, welcome to the forums, and do check out the Singapore forums in the Asia section!
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Old October 12th, 2004, 09:23 PM   #215
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I heard that the LTA is thinking of the possibility of tearing down the ERP gantries in the future and using GPS technology instead to charge drivers entering certain areas at certain times... Thats what I heard... Dont know the details though I do know that no concrete plans have been made public yet...
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Old October 13th, 2004, 07:14 PM   #216
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ignoramus
I heard that the LTA is thinking of the possibility of tearing down the ERP gantries in the future and using GPS technology instead to charge drivers entering certain areas at certain times... Thats what I heard... Dont know the details though I do know that no concrete plans have been made public yet...
GPS again? I would have problems with that. Wont that give them lots of leeway in tracking any single car there want? Where is our privacy then (from what is left of it that is..haha)?
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Old October 13th, 2004, 07:44 PM   #217
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Thats why no concrete plans to implement that system is out yet...cause they have to deal with so many other issues...
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Old October 14th, 2004, 09:40 AM   #218
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Well they jolly well should. I dont want them to track me when I drive to a seculded corner to do some private stuff!
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Old October 15th, 2004, 05:27 PM   #219
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Check this out which I sourced from One Motoring website:

"When will Weekend Cars be automatically converted to normal cars?"

"The Government has previously announced that the automatic conversion of Weekend Cars (WECs) to normal cars (NCs) would be effected when the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) scheme is implemented island-wide. This is expected to take place beyond year 2000.

Phase 1 of the ERP, which was completed in Sep 98, involved the automation of the Area Licensing Scheme (ALS)/ Road Pricing Scheme (RPS). ERP Phase 2, which started in Sep 99, involved only another cordon outside the Central Business District (CBD). The current coverage of our ERP system thus cannot be considered island-wide.

Beyond Phase 2, ERP will continue to be extended to other parts of Singapore where and when traffic congestion levels become unacceptable. The pace of this expansion will depend largely on the travel pattern of motorists and the traffic situations after ERP Phase 2. It is therefore not possible to determine at this point in time the exact implementation schedule of island-wide ERP.

Owners of WECs will be given ample notice of the date when their WECs can be automatically converted to NCs."

Phase 3 ERP roll-out will happen but nobody knows when. A usage based taxation system would gradually reduce the price of car while still ensure the roads are free flowing. Probably the current COE freefall could serve as the crossover platform to cheaper cars, reducing the pain of car owners.
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Old October 18th, 2004, 01:25 PM   #220
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Time is GMT + 8 hours
Posted: 18 October 2004 1813 hrs

Commuters can soon find out bus arrival times via SMS
By Yvonne Cheong, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : Have you ever been stuck at a bus-stop, wondering when your bus would arrive?

Well, for those who are waiting for Express Service 518, you can now find out just how much longer the wait will be.

SBS Transit has just rolled out an SMS service, which tells you when Express Bus Service 518 will arrive.

All you need to do is send an SMS to *655.

The service will then ask which bus you are waiting for and the bus- stop code, which can be found on bus-stop poles.

Most bus commuters are applauding this move.

"I think it's fantastic because you won't have to guess what time the bus is coming. You can do some shopping while waiting for the bus."

"I think it's a very good idea because it will help us know what time to reach the bus stop."

The estimated arrival time is derived using a location-based technology, but it doesn't take into account traffic jams.

The service is free over the next four weeks, after which it'll cost 10 cents till March next year, and 30 cents per request after that.

"I think 30 cents is ok. But if they bring the cost lower, that'd be much better," said a member of the public.

"SBS Transit does not benefit from this cost. It all goes to SingTel which I believe will help them defray their development cost," said Mr Elwyn Tan, deputy director for marketing at SBS Transit.

After the pilot run, the service will be extended to other express bus services and later to long frequency bus routes which have longer waiting times.

But the service is only for SBS Transit buses, and for now only available to SingTel mobile users.

"We're looking at tying in with other telcos as well. We'll do a review of the trial one month later, and possibly extend to other express services," said Mr Elwyn Tan. - CNA

Copyright © 2004 MCN International Pte Ltd
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