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Bus contracting model will improve efficiency, services: WP

The Opposition party says it will watch the implementation closely and offer suggestions.

SINGAPORE: Opposition Workers’ Party (WP) said on Thursday (May 22) that it hopes the new bus contracting model will promote greater efficiency and service quality improvements, adding that it will be watching its implementation closely.

Responding to TODAY’s queries, Mr Gerald Giam, who chairs the WP’s media team, said the model “will inject greater contestability and competition among operators compared to the present duopoly of SMRT and SBS Transit”.

He also noted that the WP had earlier proposed for the MRT and public buses servicing major trunk and inter-town routes to be brought under the management of a National Transport Corporation (NTC).

Stressing the need for proper implementation of the new model “to ensure affordable public transport fares, cost-saving efficiency and high service standards for commuters”, he called on the Government “to be fully transparent about the costs of nationalisation”.

He added: “We will be carefully watching its implementation and will, where necessary, raise questions and bring up suggestions to the Government for policy improvements.”

The Land Transport Authority announced on Wednesday its intention to restructure the public bus sector. It will embark on a new bus contracting model, in which operators will bid for a package of routes through competitive tendering.

Separately, Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Lina Chiam, who is chairman of the Singapore People’s Party, also issued a statement on Thursday. She said the party welcomes the recent restructuring move, adding that there are “clear benefits”. Singaporeans can expect more competition and better quality in transport services, she said, adding that current services “have, by far been, inadequate to meet the needs of Singaporeans”.

She also said the Government can directly subsidise bus fares and invest in capacity expansion, compared to the past when this had to be done through private companies.

She hopes other essential services can also be placed under this model, such as airport services and utilities. “As we speak, Changi Airport is transforming into a retail hub, a feature that Singapore is hardly short of. We would rather that Changi Airport focuses on air cargo logistics expansion and passenger handling efficiency,” she noted.

She also urged the Government not to allow tender conditions for transport services to be “prohibitively complex”, which will create a high barrier for others to enter the market.

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