Photo from CNA

After being invited to Singapore to comment on the sorry state of public transport in Singapore, Finland’s Transport Minister Anner Berner criticised Singapore government for interfering too much in public transport business.

“It should be private-sector organisations that provide the services to disrupt the transportation industry, and not the government. The role of government is to provide the legislative environment for there to be level playing field so that these companies can compete and offer services that meet the needs of commuters.”

At a fifth of Singapore’s two Transport Ministers Khaw Boon Wan and Ng Chee Meng’s salaries, the S$280,000-a-year Finnish Transport Minister managing one of the world’s best public transport system said that the Singapore government should not clamp down on private services like Grab or Uber:

“Authority-driven systems tend not to move fast enough to adapt to users’ needs. Today, almost none of the consumers influence transport services; they just take what is provided… There have been efforts from the government to deregulate services in the transport sector, such that rather than regulating parcel delivery or postal services or ride hailing separately, there can be a single law that is technology- and platform-neutral. Finland will remove stipulations on whether a car is allowed to deliver parcels, mail, groceries and people, so any one can choose to offer the service they want with the resources they have.”

This contrast with Singapore which recently announced a ban for taxi drivers to make courier deliveries for Amazon.

The Finnish Transport Minister also shot down Singapore government’s idea of having “driverless” cars and said that such technology is not in place:

“Not yet.  Maybe 2025.”