In a propaganda fake news run by state media Straits Times, several right-wing academics attribute the increased in overcrowding to preference and “cheap” fares.
Right-wing economist and lecturer with the Singapore University of Social Sciences, Walter Theseira, claimed that there are higher ridership because public transport fares are cheap:
“Transport demand is not fixed – people will increase their travel when the costs of travelling fall, because it becomes more attractive to visit friends, go out socially, or to use public transport for commuting instead of driving. Cost is not merely monetary. The main costs of public transport come from the time and ease of completing a journey.”
The right-wing academic then claimed that the consecutive 12 years increase of ridership since 2005 is not a result of increased population and claimed without basis population growth stagnated:
“Population growth has been somewhat stagnant. So I think increased demand from existing users is the most likely cause.”
Singapore’s population in 2005 was 4.26 million and has since ballooned 33.8% to 5.7 million in 2016. The ruling party government announced in 2010 its plan to increase the population to 6.9 million by 2030.
Another right-wing academic, Lee Der Hong, a transport researcher from the National University of Singapore (NUS), claimed that ridership has increased due to “service improvements”:
“Service improvement in buses has encouraged more people to switch to public transport.”
Overcrowding in Singapore’s public transport has reached a new high with bus and rail ridership hitting 7.2 million a day in 2016 – 4.3% higher than a year ago. According to the latest statistics by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the LRT lines saw the bigger increase in overcrowding with a jump of 18.4% to 180,000 rides a day. The MRT train lines saw an increase of 7.8% to 3.1 million rides a day. Bus ridership increased 1.2% to 3.9 million rides a day in 2016.
The increased overcrowding has resulted in numerous train break downs, which has all taken place during peak hours in the morning or evening. Exorbitant taxes on private cars, known as Certificate of Entitlement (COE), remained unaffordable for the masses with a small Toyota Vios having to pay at least S$52,000 in COE taxes excluding additional taxes. The Singapore government has also raised parking fees leading to many drivers turning to public transport.