My speech at the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament for the Ministry of Transport, on 12 March 2013.
MOT recently said that it was exploring private bus operators’ interest in new, shorter services that feed to MRT stations, and that these new feeder services could be outside of the current Bus Services Enhancement Programme (BSEP).
During last year’s Budget, it was announced that of the $1.1 billion budgeted for the BSEP, $280 million had been budgeted for the purchase of 550 buses over the next five years, and $820 million was budgeted to cover the net operating costs of these buses for 10 years. My understanding then was that the BSEP budget was to supply additional buses and drivers to the two current public transport operators (PTOs). How do the new bus services contracted out to private bus operators fit into this budget?
Can the Minister share what the estimated cost of this latest initiative will be?
Is this latest move being undertaken because the two PTOs are unable or unwilling to ramp up bus service coverage?
While I welcome additional buses and bus routes to ease congestion and reduce waiting and travelling time for commuters, do these new service contracts amount to a further government subsidy of the two PTOs?
Could the Minister share more details about how these new contracts are structured? I understand the private bus operators are paid a fixed contract price, and the fares collected will go to the government. Hence the operators will not bear any revenue risk.
Will there be penalties for not meeting quality of service standards, or bonus payments for exceeding standards? If so what will these penalties and bonuses be like, and how will the Ministry ensure that service standards will meet the expectations of commuters?