8 Mar 2012, 7.56PM
Speaking in Parliament, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said that there is a marked difference between the support given to the bus and rail sectors.
Going forward, in line with the rail financing framework, the Government will bear the development and land costs for bus depots and bus parking infrastructure, and lease these to bus operators at a nominal fee. Public transport operators (PTO) will also be allowed to retain a portion of the advertising revenue from bus shelters. Mr Lui said that these measures will ‘lower the entry barriers for new operators when contestability in the bus industry is introduced’ and help PTOs cope with rising costs in the future.
Transport experts interviewed by the media welcomed the move, saying that it will enable PTOs to focus on other service improvements. The revenue from advertising also means less reliance on fare increases.
Turning to discussions on the public transport model, Mr Lui said that the long-term public interest is best served if the operation of trains and buses are left to commercial entities, as profit incentives will drive operators towards higher efficiency and productivity. Citing the examples of Hong Kong’s MTR and London Buses, Mr Lui noted that the most efficiently-run public transport services are provided by commercially-driven entities.
However, he added that while commercial entities are used to run public transport operations, the Government must still take control in key areas. These include planning for rail lines and bus routes, ensuring a firm regulatory mechanism for fares, setting rail and bus service levels and deciding on timely capacity injection to meet ridership growth.
Read The Straits Times article
and Minister Lui’s full speech
for more details.