No concessions for disabled – but CEOs reap millions

Members of the disabled community, many of whom work in low-paying jobs, have been calling for public transport concessions for 12 years – to no avail.

In 2009, SBS Transit said it was looking into the call. (See here.)

It has been two years since and no news from SBS Transit, or SMRT, about its decision. So, the status quo remains – no concessions for the disabled.

In the meantime, the CEOs of the Public Transport Operators (PTOs), which seek to impose ever-higher fares on commuters every year, are paid record-breaking remuneration.

SMRT’s CEO Saw Phaik Hwa, for example, is the highest-ever paid SMRT CEO the company has employed. This despite all the problems faced by commuters in the last few years.

In 2009, she was paid S$1.67 million.

In 2010, she was paid S$1.85 million.

On 10 July 2011, the PTOs submitted their applications to the Public transport Council (PTC) to “adjust” – the euphemism for “increase” – fares again. They are asking for the “maximum fare adjustment of 2.8 per cent” – this despite making a total of $215.4 million in profits in 2010.

I am sorry but this makes me really upset. The problems faced by commuters are not new. They have been around for years, especially the last few ones. Former Minister for Transport, Raymond Lim, was aware of them. So were the PTOs (and their CEOs). Yet, the problems remain.

Now, we have a new Transport Minister and it seems he is just repeating what each commuter already know – the problems when using public transport. At the risk of repeating myself, these problems are not new.

When, really, are the authorities going to get to the root of the problems? Or are they going to keep asking for feedback, ideas and suggestions, and buy time? There is no need for feedback anymore.

It is ridiculous that the PTOs keep asking for higher fares, while the problems remain.

I, like many others, would like to give the new minister time to resolve the problems. But to see the PTOs ask for ever-higher fares, and their CEOs paid record amounts in the millions, just make us feel like we’re being taken for a ride.

I hope the PTC will come to its senses and realise that it is fast becoming a joke, especially if it approves the so-called 2.8 per cent “fare adjustment” the PTOs are asking for.

How about we start with finally giving concessions to the disabled first?

Today, 3 Dec 2009
Straits Times, 24 June 2010
Straits Times, 17 June 2011
Channelnewsasia, 11 July 2011