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Old May 12th, 2004, 01:34 PM   #81
babystan03
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Bukit Panjang LRT service delayed after several power trips

Time is GMT + 8 hours
Posted: 12 May 2004 1858 hrs

By Dominique Loh, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : A series of power trips disrupted the Bukit Panjang LRT three times on Wednesday.

SMRT said the first and longest delay happened just before noon, lasting nearly 40 minutes.

An hour later, the trains stopped again but resumed service after a quick repair, which took about 18 minutes.

But this was not enough to prevent a third stoppage just before 2pm.

Service was then stopped so that maintainance staff could conduct a thorough check and rectify the problem.

Full service resumed at 2:15 pm.

During the disruption, SMRT deployed some 16 buses to shuttle passengers along the entire LRT route.

SMRT engineers are investigating the cause of the power trip.

This is the first major service delay in about two years.

In October 2002, the LRT was crippled by technical problems when the train guide-wheel fell off and caused a major shutdown. - CNA

Copyright © 2004 MCN International Pte Ltd
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Old May 12th, 2004, 05:05 PM   #82
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huaiwei
Silver cabs, golden touches

By Goh Chin Lian

Free on this ride:
- Air purifier
- Wet towels
- Choice of music

Premier, the new kid in the expanding taxi market, ups the ante by providing extras at no extra charge. It plans to have 200 taxis by the end of this year


PREMIER Taxi, the third of Singapore's three new cab companies, will take to the roads on March 1, offering passengers such perks as wet towels to refresh themselves with and a choice of CDs to listen to during the ride.

The cabs, which will be metallic silver in colour, will also have air purifiers and ionisers in them. All these extras will come at no extra charge. 'Competing on price will be literally committing suicide,' said the company's general manager, Mr David Chen. 'We want to give our passengers as comfortable a ride as possible.'

The company plans to start with 50 taxis, which it has nicknamed 'Silvercabs', and is calling its 6363-6888 hotline 'Silverline'. Its booking fee will be $3, the same as Smart Automobile, another of the three newbies, and veteran CityCab. Tibs Taxis charges $2.80, and Comfort and Trans-Cab, $3.20. Premier's flagdown fare will be $2.40, like everyone else.

The company, owned by two siblings of the Chua family which founded car dealer Cycle & Carriage, plans to add 50 3-litre Toyota Crowns every two months to its fleet. Its target is to have at least 200 taxis by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, the other two new cab companies, Smart and Trans-Cab, are expanding their fleets, barely a month after they started and well before they are required to by transport regulations. As new entrants, they have up to four years to build up the size of their fleet to a minimum of 400 taxis, and need to have 100 by the end of their first year in business.

Smart, with 30 light-green cabs, plans to add another 50 by early next month and 50 more in the next few weeks. Trans-Cab, which has 50 red-and-white vehicles, plans to put 29 more on the road on Feb 25 and another 21 on March 9.

Both companies said that their takings have been good but the number of taxis they now have is too small to cope with the bookings they have been receiving. The extra vehicles will also increase the amount of money they make from renting out the cabs. Trans-Cab, the larger of the two, can meet only two in 10 calls every day on average.

The size of their fleets has limited the impact on the three incumbents, Comfort, CityCab and Tibs Taxis, which have a total of about 19,000 cabs. According to the three taxi operators' associations, the new entrants have not affected their members' takings so far, partly because business is apparently at its best in the first three months of the year. They expect things to become more competitive later in the year when the number of available fares falls and more new cabs start plying.

While the new entrants have not taken away many passengers, they have been drawing a number of experienced drivers from the three incumbents. About 90 of the 100 cabbies that Premier has so far recruited have at least two years' experience.

To attract drivers, Premier is offering $2 off the daily rental fee for every year that a cabby rents its taxi. CityCab and Tibs announced similar schemes last month. Premier's daily rental fee, at $92.40, is about the industry average. Smart has the lowest rate, at $90.50, while Yellow-Top Taxis charges the highest, $94.08.

Premier is hoping that its silver shine will help it catch the eye of prospective passengers and that the vehicles' numbers will give it a fillip. Said Mr Chen: 'All our licence plates start with the number 8. It's a lucky number.'
You cannot believe it...my friend tot Premier Cabs are employed by the tissue company selling permier tissues haha
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Old May 12th, 2004, 05:10 PM   #83
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Originally Posted by chrisboiboi
You cannot believe it...my friend tot Premier Cabs are employed by the tissue company selling permier tissues haha
Wakao....I think your friend overly imaginative.....
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Old May 12th, 2004, 07:02 PM   #84
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Yiap. Anyway now that we are on a new page, I wanna start some serious discussions about our public transport system.

What do you guys think of a privatised public transport industry as we have here today? Do you think it is better, or is it better for public transportation to be government owned and managed?

I expect at least 1000 words in each of your replies.
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Old May 12th, 2004, 07:12 PM   #85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huaiwei
Yiap. Anyway now that we are on a new page, I wanna start some serious discussions about our public transport system.

What do you guys think of a privatised public transport industry as we have here today? Do you think it is better, or is it better for public transportation to be government owned and managed?

I expect at least 1000 words in each of your replies.
The question sound very similar to what I read in Toronto one.....haha....

I think each have its pros and cons.....If governemnt managed, the infrastructure won't be so nice loh....but the price might be cheaper....
If privatised, there will be more facilities but they will do things for profit, for example raising fares and opening a station only when there is enough crowds......

I guess it's a matter of preference......do you want cost savings or do you prefer aesthetics??? I think if a balance is strike(inexpensive yet clean etc...)....I won't mind if it's privatised.....
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Old May 12th, 2004, 07:15 PM   #86
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Yes....the toronto one makes me feel like budging in...but nvm.

I dont quite agree that government-run means less asthetics. More elaborations on this later....just waiting for more comments.
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Old May 12th, 2004, 07:18 PM   #87
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[x1000]isnt the mrt government built, then privately managed? if its cash rich government built - it would much morelikely be nice.

i think private is better - competition always benefits the consumer and brings innovations.[/x1000]
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Old May 12th, 2004, 07:22 PM   #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huaiwei
Yes....the toronto one makes me feel like budging in...but nvm.

I dont quite agree that government-run means less asthetics. More elaborations on this later....just waiting for more comments.
"government-run means less asthetics".....maybe i too engross in the toronto one...haha....

Got any examples?? (you can give later after you see all the comments)
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Old May 12th, 2004, 07:24 PM   #89
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Yeah...perhaps...but is there really competition in public transport here?
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Old May 12th, 2004, 07:32 PM   #90
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huaiwei
Yeah...perhaps...but is there really competition in public transport here?
I don't think so.....I only got one MRT line to "choose" from from my place???
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Old May 12th, 2004, 07:55 PM   #91
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Quote:
Originally Posted by babystan03
I don't think so.....I only got one MRT line to "choose" from from my place???
Haahaa.....try thinking on the national sense lah!
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Old May 12th, 2004, 08:01 PM   #92
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huaiwei
Haahaa.....try thinking on the national sense lah!
If it's on national sense, i think it's a "artificial" one loh.....anyway they's only two company.....how "big" can the competition be.....
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Old May 13th, 2004, 12:22 PM   #93
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...

But it's still an inconvenience, albeit a played-down one.... I' prefer to think that the LRT will work every time i need it, rather than that there's a back up in place.... prevention is better than cure, right?
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Old May 13th, 2004, 12:27 PM   #94
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EyeToEye
...

But it's still an inconvenience, albeit a played-down one.... I' prefer to think that the LRT will work every time i need it, rather than that there's a back up in place.... prevention is better than cure, right?
Of course.....who would want a useless piece of crap that always give problems....maybe they should listen to Huai Wei....Destroy the whole thing.....haha....
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Old May 13th, 2004, 12:30 PM   #95
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Destroy? No lah... fix can liao... dun waste all that money for nothing...
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Old May 13th, 2004, 01:19 PM   #96
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Destroy? No lah... fix can liao... dun waste all that money for nothing...
They can keep the concrete pillars. Just rip up the whole damn bloody system (including the tracks. I wonder how wheels can fall out) and put in a better one!
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Old May 14th, 2004, 02:32 AM   #97
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What could make LTA truly world-class

This story was printed from TODAYonline

It can spend thousands on helping elderly rather than millions on projects of debatable value

Friday • May 14, 2004

SINGAPORE has a public transport system that can, in many ways, claim to be world class. Further, over the years, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has put thought and money into some extras designed to make motoring and commuting more convenient.

It's a pity that some of these projects turned out to be, shall we say, ill-advised.

For example, it spent $125 million on Emas, or the Expressway and Advisory System, meant, among other things, to provide estimates of the time needed to get from one point to another.

But last October, the LTA switched off this service without warning or explanation. When quizzed, it simply said the step was in response to motorists' feedback, not to save costs.

Then, there was the $40-million system to provide travel-time information at bus stops and interchanges. Announced in late 2000, it was canned early last year — after some $10 million had already been spent — because of software problems.

The greater pity is that a public agency that was ready to spend such large sums on projects of debatable value continues to count its pennies when it comes to little projects that would make the travel and transport needs of the aged, ill or handicapped people a bit easier.

In 2000, I had asked in a commentary why there was no escalator or lift at the Novena MRT Station to make it easier for the aged and the sick to get to the Tan Tock Seng Hospital. This was inspired by a reader's letter in a Chinese daily recounting how heart-wrenching it was to see an old lady with a twisted leg making her painful way up the 44 steps to the hospital.

This letter and the commentary helped trigger public demand for better access at MRT stations. In response, the LTA explained that when the MRT system was first built, it was "exempted from complying with the Code on Barrier-Free Accessibility in Buildings" (in other words, it didn't have to make arrangements for the aged and the handicapped).

But, it added, "as part of (a) move to make MRT stations more user-friendly, especially to the elderly, the LTA will be retro-fitting all existing stations with lifts".

So, life became easier for less mobile commuters to get from MRT stations to the ground. But after that?

In 2001, Mr Gurmit Singh wrote to the press to say that the overhead bridge connecting Outram MRT and the Singapore General Hospital was served by only two escalators, both going up. He wrote about how difficult it was for some to negotiate the bridge and asked for downward escalators to be installed.

Last September, Ms Karen Wong Ang Eng wrote to Today on the same issue. The LTA wrote back and promised to "look into the matter". Eight months of inaction later, an irritated Ms Wong wrote in again, this time advising the LTA to "do something quickly and not wait until a serious mishap occurs".

There may not have been any serious mishaps, but there have been minor accidents at this bridge. Mr Timothy Tang Nam Yen wrote about seeing "countless ... elderly men and women who had problems descending the stairs and needed to be helped by passers-by or family members" and how "an old man fell down while descending the stairs. Fortunately, passers-by rushed forward to help him up".

In the United States, the man or his relatives would have sued the LTA. Here, he just picked himself up and walked away.

On Wednesday, the LTA roused itself and wrote to Today saying it was too expensive to install downward escalators at the bridge, but it was working with the Singapore General Hospital to "provide more pick-up and drop-off points for the shuttle bus service" for those who have difficulty using the bridge.

Too expensive? A pair of escalators for a 10m high bridge, after including all the work — from waterproofing to the power connection — will cost perhaps $300,000.

Have we, or rather has the LTA, got its priorities a little mixed up? There's nothing glamorous or high-tech about escalators, but they would make life easier for the aged and sick who cannot afford cars or taxis and who have to use the bridge.

Spending time and money on little projects like this would make our public transport system truly world-class.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

Lee Han Shih

peccavi013@yahoo.com

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old May 16th, 2004, 03:24 PM   #98
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Sengkang residents save on travel time with new road interchange

Time is GMT + 8 hours
Posted: 16 May 2004 1943 hrs

By Asha Popatlal, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : Sengkang residents who have been facing constant traffic woes can now heave a sigh of relief with the recent completion of a four-way road interchange and flyover.

This has helped some residents shave up to 20 minutes off their travelling time at peak periods.

As a new town, Sengkang had initially faced a number of traffic woes as road access tried to grow in tandem with the number of residents moving in.

With some intense lobbying, a S$23 million programme saw various road openings in the last two years to improve access to Sengkang and Punggol.

With the completion of the interchange -- the last slip road was opened just last month -- residents can now avoid the congested Ponggol Road and have an alternative route to the TPE, which will basically feed them into the city and other parts of Singapore.

This was certainly something to celebrate for the many residents who gathered at a community event.

"Formerly, the jam would start at Punggol Road before Rivervale Plaza -- that was heavily jammed. It would take me 20 to 25 minutes before I could exit to TPE. With this new opening, it saves me a lot of time on traffic jams," said resident Gimmy Yeo.

And with motorists headed elsewhere, public transport users face an easier time too.

"An alternative route is opened up; motorists use it. Public transport still uses the old Punggol Road. There is less traffic so public transport is very fast," said Tan Jong Aik a resident.

Another new development is a pedestrian bridge linking Sengkang and Punggol towns.

As for the yet-to-be opened Buangkok MRT Station, the plan is to build more flats around it to make it viable.

"Two thousand units over the next two to three years in Punggol town. For the Sengkang part of it, most of the building is around Buangkok. The aim is to get Buangkok open as soon as possible," said Dr Michael Lim, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.

Meanwhile, the Sengkang West loop of the LRT is also not due to open anytime soon due to lack of developments around the area.

Tenders for the Punggol Seafood Village will also be called later this year, to add more life to the area. - CNA


Copyright © 2004 MCN International Pte Ltd
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Old May 18th, 2004, 05:46 PM   #99
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Cab fares in S'pore are, gasp, too low

FEB 13

Andy Ho

THE time may have come for commuters and taxi operators alike to face an uncomfortable truth: Singapore's taxi fares are too low.

The suggestion to raise fares has always been howled down. The last time the then Communications Ministry tried to raise fares - back in the mid-1980s - the minister in charge got so much flak, the Government had to make a politically-costly U-turn.

This time round, another increase may be in the works, if the Land Transport Authority's recent imposition of a $25 levy per taxi on taxi companies is any harbinger.

Will there be good grounds for such an increase?

Yes, because Singapore's taxi system is still very much a relic of the 1960s and pricing structures have not caught up with the times.

In cities with developed public transport systems like buses and subways, taxis are a luxury means of transport. Only the higher-income and those in enough of a hurry to pay the premium use them.

Only in less developed countries and cities where public transportation has yet to be fully developed are taxis - such as the 'pirate taxis' of old Singapore - a means of transport for the masses.

In today's Singapore however, the student, the office worker and even the domestic maid flag down taxis the way they hop onto buses elsewhere.

The reason is simple: Taxi fares here are low.

Fares are now only about half or a third of those in New York, London or Tokyo. With 19,000 cabs on the roads, Singapore already has 4.8 taxis per 1,000 population - higher than the 2.9 per thousand population in New York, 2.6 in London and 2.3 in Tokyo. But still people clamour for more, especially during the peak periods in the early mornings and late afternoons/early evenings.

Because taxi fares are probably below their true market rates, several oddities have resulted on the Singapore taxi scene.

One is that the taxi is the NTUC FairPrice of public transport when it should more appropriately be Liberty, FairPrice's more upmarket outlet at Plaza Singapura.

Another is the enormous range of add-on tariffs that has been devised to increase the cabby's takings without raising the basic fare rate, such as the booking fee and the peak hour surcharge.

The most impactful of these add-on tariffs is of course the midnight surcharge, which at 1 1/2 times the standard rate, has been resulting in the notorious pre-midnight taxi disappearing acts which must be peculiar only to Singapore.

If normal fares are higher and the after-midnight differential not so large, taxi drivers will have less incentive to resort to such behaviour.

Then, there are the many and frequent complaints about taxi drivers, in part- icular about their lack of courtesy and their dangerous driving habits.

These behaviour traits may have other causes, but low fares must count as one.

A cabby here needs about 20 fares per day to make a decent living, so he literally rushes through each, says Mr Abdul Halil, 58, who has been a cabby for 20 years.

By contrast, a Tokyo cabby who charges twice as much needs only half that number to make ends meet. Presumably, he can also afford to slow down and offer more courteous service.

What will the impact of higher fares be on taxi drivers' earnings?

This depends on the size of the increase. If it's too big, the number of taxi users will plunge, and cabby income along with it. The trick therefore is to ensure that the increase is big enough to reduce demand for taxis - but not cabby earnings.

Dr Leung Chin Ying, a business professor at the Nanyang Technological University, says the taxi market is like cigarettes in the sense that there will always be smokers who continue to smoke regardless of pricing, because they are addicted.

But there is little fear of monopoly pricing resulting because competition among cigarette brands drives prices to an efficient level. Likewise with taxi rides, competition among service providers sets efficient prices.

'Our deregulated taxi market must be doing it right since riders buy the service it provides at current prices,' Dr Leung surmises.

This means that should taxi fares really be allowed to go up, chances are that taxi drivers will be better off - provided of course that deregulation remains and taxi companies are free to vary their prices if they think they can make more money by lowering their prices.

And what of the impact of higher fares on commuters?

Those most likely to be affected adversely will be the lower-income earners and small businesses who rely on taxis to transport goods.

But the remedy to this is not to keep taxi fares artificially low. Instead it is to ensure that the people most affected have alternative means of public transport. Public buses, the MRT and light-rail must serve the areas where these people live and work comprehensively. Private bus and pick-up operators must be allowed to provide their services, which fill niches the transport giants cannot fill.

The current expansion of the MRT and LRT networks is also a definite move in the right direction, paving the way for an eventual reduction in Singaporeans' reliance on taxis.

With 12 per cent of Singapore's land already used for roads and related facilities, it is not tenable to rely on the construction of more roads to meet the demands of a reliable and efficient land transport system.

Finally, there is another argument why taxi fares ought to be raised, although it is one that nobody will welcome. This concerns fairness towards other road users. Car users are right now taxed at punitive levels. Those who take the bus and MRT have had to pay higher fares. Only taxi fares remain untouched.

To strike a better balance among the various forms of transport, their relative fare structures need recalibration so as to iron out existing wrinkles in the demand patterns.

The only argument mitigating against a taxi fare hike now is the economic downturn.

The last time the Government tried to raise fares, it was also during a recession. One hopes the Government will learn from history.

There are good grounds for an increase - but just not now. Not for another six months at least.


Andy Ho is a senior writer with The Straits Times.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 06:29 PM   #100
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hrmmmm it's nice to know we've got such a high density! i know we do have, but i didnt expect it to be higher than new york.. you always see pictures of new york city with their roads filled with yellow cabs...
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