Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) promised to spend more than 3 times more to subsidise bus companies after the 2012-initiated S$1.1 billion Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP) ends in 2017.
Under the Transport Ministry, S$3.5 – S$4 billion of taxes will be spent over the next five years to subsidise bus services managed by public bus companies like SMRT, SBS, Tower Transit and Go-Ahead.
Profits of these bus companies providing only the labour will be guaranteed under the new bus contracting model, where all physical assets are paid for by taxpayers. The new public transport funding model is designed to protect the profits of private companies through the deep pockets of the Singapore government.
South Korean Senior Lecturer from SIM University, Park Byung Joon, criticised the Singapore government’s new bus contracting model as a “slippery slope”:
“Like Seoul, subsidies for public transport from the government have increased several fold, resulting in the cost of providing the services outstripping the fare revenue. In the end, taxpayers bear the brunt.”
The 2012-initiated BSEP however sees little improvement to the overcrowding problem in Singapore buses. The Singapore government refuse to produce statistics and instead resort to using propaganda on state media claiming that buses are less crowded during peak hours.
Worrying about public backlash, the Minister of Transport Khaw Boon Wan is avoiding media exposure and pushing all public statements through the Land Transport Authority.