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Transport Woes...


Alfrescian (Inf)

Car COE premiums hit new highs, Open category rises to $144,640​


The COE premium for smaller cars set a new record of $105,000, while the COE premium for larger cars climbed to $140,889. PHOTO: ST FILE

Lee Nian Tjoe
Senior Transport Correspondent

SEP 20, 2023

SINGAPORE - The certificate of entitlement (COE) prices for cars and the Open category hit record highs on Wednesday, spurred by motor dealers rushing to meet year-end targets and take advantage of current tax rebates for electric cars.
The COE premium for cars with engines up to 1,600cc and 130bhp, as well as electric vehicles (EVs) up to 110 kilowatts, was 3.96 per cent higher at $105,000, up from $101,000 at the last tender exercise.
The previous high for smaller-car COE premiums was $103,721, set in the second tender exercise in April this year.
COE premiums for larger and more powerful cars as well as for the Open category set records for the fourth consecutive tender, both breaching the $140,000 mark for the first time.
At $140,889, the large-car COE premium was 4.45 per cent above the previous high of $134,889 set two weeks ago.
The premium for the Open category COE – which can be used for any vehicle type except motorcycles, but ends up being used mostly for bigger cars – also set an all-time high, at $144,640.
This was 5.58 per cent higher than the $137,000 record from the last tender exercise.

The commercial vehicle COE premium nudged up by 1.1 per cent to finish at $83,801, up from $82,889 before.
The COE premium for motorcycles was the only one that dipped. At $10,700, the price was 1.84 per cent lower than the $10,901 posted two weeks ago.
New highs have been set in all categories of COE in 2023, with the exception of motorcycles.

Some car brands had hosted road shows and dangled generous discounts to get more orders since the last tender.
There were 470 unsuccessful bids in total over the two car COE categories, slightly more than the 457 unsuccessful bids seen in the previous round.
A sizeable proportion of these bidders would return for the next tender to secure the needed COEs, suggesting that the upward pressure on prices is not expected to ease.
Mr Ng Choon Wee, group commercial director at Komoco Motors, attributed the high COE premiums to dealers who may be chasing after their year-end sales targets to qualify for incentives.
Calling the record COE premiums “absurd”, Mr Nicholas Wong, who is the general manager of Honda agent Kah Motor, said the surge is also driven by a sense of uncertainty for the new year.
Cars are expected to cost more in the new year. The EV Early Adoption Incentive, which gives rebates of up to $20,000 off vehicle taxes for EVs, ends on Dec 31 this year, and it is unclear what will happen to the scheme.
From Jan 1, 2024, the pollutant thresholds for private cars under the Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES) will be tightened, though details of the revised VES have yet to be announced.
Motor traders say they are assuming that cars with pure internal combustion engines, as opposed to petrol-hybrids or EVs, will be downgraded to a less favourable band under the updated VES. This is expected to make such vehicles harder to sell in the new year as they would likely come with reduced rebates, or even incur higher penalties under the VES.
Associate Professor Walter Theseira, a transport economist at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, noted that the big swings in COE premiums, because of how the COE supply moves in 10-year cycles, is not ideal.
“A stable price would be better for the economy and better reflect the actual demand for car travel,” he said.
“Why should rental-fleet owners get a windfall just because they procured their fleet a few years ago?” he added, referring to how vehicles bought earlier when COE premiums were lower would be worth more at today’s COE prices.
Goldbell Corp board adviser Ng Lee Kwang said: “This COE situation is getting out of hand. This is not good for anybody.”
Mr Ng Lee Kwang, who also teaches transport topics as an adjunct lecturer at Nanyang Institute of Management, warns that cars registered with such expensive COEs would be difficult to sell in the used market when COE premiums eventually come down.
Mr Mohammad Iskandar Tobari, 51, is in no hurry to replace his five-year-old Subaru Forester, which he bought brand new.
The technician, whose 19-year-old daughter has just started taking driving lessons, said: “With car prices so high, I don’t know why she even wants to get a licence.”


Alfrescian (Inf)

Open category COE hits $152,000, large car COE reaches another high​


This is the fifth consecutive time that the COE premium for the Open category has broken records. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Lee Nian Tjoe
Senior Transport Correspondent

OCT 4, 2023

SINGAPORE – The certificate of entitlement (COE) premium for the Open category breached the $150,000 mark at the latest tender exercise on Wednesday to close at a new all-time high of $152,000.
Industry observers said dealers may be trying to accumulate more Open category COEs to register cars in the remaining two months of the year before rebates are cut from 2024, as such certificates are valid for three months and transferrable.
In addition, dealers are racing to meet their year-end sales targets.
The premium for the Open Category – which can be used for any vehicle type except motorcycles, but ends up being used mostly for bigger cars – surged by 5.09 per cent over the $144,640 record set at the previous tender.
This is the fifth consecutive time this COE category has broken its record.
The COE premium for larger cars with engines above 1,600cc and 130bhp, or more powerful electric vehicles (EVs) above 110 kilowatts, climbed to $146,002, 3.63 per cent above the previous high of $140,889 set two weeks ago.
Smaller car COE ended at $104,000, which was 0.95 per cent lower than the $105,000 record posted at the previous tender.

The commercial vehicle COE premium also edged upwards by 2.5 per cent to finish at $85,900, from $83,801 before.
The COE premium for motorcycles closed at $10,856, 1.46 per cent above the $10,700 before.
The latest result seems to have startled even the motor dealers. When the tender closed at 4pm on Wednesday, the general manager at a dealership wondered out loud: “How is this possible?”

There were 1,039 bids in the COE category for smaller cars and less powerful EVs, compared to an average of less than 900 bids seen in the past four exercises.
Of that number, nearly 200 bids were entered in the final five minutes before the tender closed.

This is the first time since October 2021 that the number of bids broke into four-digits for any type of COE.
It follows an announcement by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Sept 29 that an additional 300 COEs for such cars will be reallocated equally between the two tender exercises in October.
The LTA said it was reallocating the COEs to help “meet anticipated demand from car buyers following the September announcement of changes to the Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES)”.
With the revision, most hybrids and some of the more powerful EVs will receive $10,000 less in incentives from 2024.
Besides the reduced incentives, VES will also be made stricter with tightened pollutant thresholds.

At the same time, a new testing protocol to qualify cars for sale will kick in from Jan 1, 2024, and it is expected to give a less favourable rating than existing test standards.
Some cars that are currently in the neutral band and receive no incentives will be subjected to a penalty of $15,000 under the new regime.
Motor dealers said this is a significant enough reason to rush to sell affected cars within 2023.
If there was any surge in demand for hybrid cars to get the higher VES rebates before the new year, there was little sign of it at many showrooms, which have been quiet since the last tender exercise.

Mr Nicholas Wong, general manager of Honda agent Kah Motor, attributed the high number of bids recorded to fleet vehicle owners, adding that it would be “quite impossible” for dealers to collect so many orders since the last tender.
Wednesday’s tender is the second last exercise under the current three-month period. The LTA is expected to announce the COE supply for November to January in the coming weeks.
Motor dealers said that even if there would be more COEs available in the coming tenders, the combined pressure of revised VES incentives and the need to meet annual sales targets means it is unlikely that premiums will come down this year.
Ms Corinne Chua, Wearnes Automotive’s managing director for Volvo Cars, said that if motor dealers are anticipating a rush to get the higher incentives before the new year, the COE premium may hit “$160,000 or more.”


Alfrescian (Inf)

New Tengah residents lament lack of public transport options, long walk to nearest bus stops​


HDB said the keys for about 295, or 12.6 per cent, of the 2,333 units in Plantation Acres and Plantation Grange have been collected as at Sept 26. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Esther Loi

Oct 10, 2023

SINGAPORE - Administrative assistant Chan Si Hui has had no choice but to put off moving into her new flat in Tengah by almost four months, because of the town’s limited public transport options right now.
Despite collecting the keys to her Plantation Grange flat on Aug 30, Ms Chan, 39, is renting another flat elsewhere with her elderly parents. She plans to move in only when a bus stop along Tengah Boulevard, which is closer to her flat, is slated to open in December.
As Ms Chan’s parents, both 75, will be living with her, Ms Chan was worried that the walk to the nearest bus stop – now 15 minutes away by foot – would be too arduous for them.
They would have to get around ongoing work on the Jurong Region MRT line to reach this bus stop at Block 111 in Plantation Acres. There, service 992 – one of two bus routes serving the first two Tengah precincts, Plantation Grange and Plantation Acres – takes residents to Bukit Batok MRT station and bus interchange.
Ms Chan is among dozens of residents of the new “forest” town who are lamenting the inaccessibility of public transport near their new homes. She was behind a survey, done between Sept 7 and Sept 17, that gathered feedback from her estate’s residents on the bus services.
The findings of the survey, which polled 59 residents, were submitted to Hong Kah North MP Amy Khor, as well as the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Housing Board. Among other things, it found that some wanted a direct bus service to Jurong East.
In response to queries from The Straits Times, Dr Khor, who is also Senior Minister of State for Transport, said some infrastructural work, as well as accessibility in Tengah, might be “out of sync for a short while”.

This is because HDB has been handing out keys progressively for completed blocks, instead of waiting for the completion of the entire precinct, owing to construction delays.
HDB told ST that the keys for about 295, or 12.6 per cent, of the 2,333 units in Plantation Acres and Plantation Grange have been collected as at Sept 26.
Dr Khor added: “As the roads in the area are also not completely done up and open, some of the bus stops... in the area will also be completed and open in stages to further improve accessibility.”

With the start of bus service 992 on Sept 24, a temporary shuttle bus service that previously connected Plantation Acres residents to Bukit Batok stopped on Sept 30.
Like Ms Chan, Mr Ken Quek, who is unemployed, noted that it takes him up to 15 minutes to walk from his flat at Block 133C Plantation Grange to the nearest bus stop.
He said he has to walk along Tengah Boulevard and Tengah Drive, instead of taking a direct route through the blocks.
Other residents lamented the lack of public transport options in the area as well.
Mr Chan Yuke Man, who moves into Plantation Grange at the end of December, said he would have to make two bus transfers to take his daughter to St Anthony’s Primary School in Bukit Gombak. The 58-year-old said they could walk to the school within that time.

Responding to ST’s queries, LTA said it plans to improve public transport connectivity for Tengah residents to other areas, including Jurong East, with the completion of more housing developments in the area. More details will be made public in the coming months, it said.
Meanwhile, HDB said it was aware of residents’ concerns but sought their understanding that it would take some time to build up amenities and infrastructure within the new Tengah town, unlike in most other Build-To-Order developments, which are in existing HDB towns.
It added that it has instructed contractors not to park along the roads or block the entrances and exits of housing developments, and is working with agencies to ensure the orderly and safe flow of construction vehicles.
LTA and HDB added that they were working together to maintain a safe walking path for residents travelling to and from the nearest bus stops. Bus service 993, which serves another bus stop farther away along Bukit Batok West Avenue 8, operates to and from Jurong East interchange.
Before the Plantation Plaza Neighbourhood Centre starts operations from the second quarter of 2024, HDB said it would bring in temporary provisions such as vending machines offering hot food at the void deck of Block 111A in Plantation Acres. It will also work with a supermarket operator to deploy a mobile grocery truck service in Tengah by November or early December.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Consequences of having sky-high COE prices​

Oct 11, 2023

Surely, the Government must be watching with concern the sharp rise in certificate of entitlement (COE) premiums in the past few months.
No doubt it is the Government’s policy to limit the number of COEs to control the vehicle population. The high COE premiums are unavoidable due to the limited number of COEs available for bidding each month.
The consequences of higher COE premiums are:
- The cost of living will rise, causing a ripple effect on the economy and affecting everyone;
- Push factors are created for those in the middle-income groups to leave Singapore for good. This will cause a brain drain in our workforce at the professional, managerial, executive and technical (PMET) levels.
Some Singaporeans will want the Government to have a new COE category for 3,000cc cars for the rich to compete among themselves and not for them to compete against the middle-income groups in the 2,000cc COE category.
Others may argue that higher COE premiums could serve a common social good when the Government is seen to give higher public transport rebates to the lower-income groups.

The hidden trade-offs cannot be ascertained or determined easily in a dynamic economy with no capital gains tax or estate duty tax for the distribution of wealth, as it could cause the income gap between the rich and the poor to widen further.

Tan Kok Tim


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Time to reconsider pay-as-you-bid COE system​

Oct 11, 2023

The idea of paying what you bid in certificate of entitlement (COE) tenders has been raised from time to time ever since the COE system was instituted. The Government has consistently refused to entertain the idea on the grounds that it believes the change would not make a difference.
It is true that theoretical models tend to predict insignificant differences in outcome between a pay-as-you-bid scheme and a pay-the-cutoff-bid system.
However, given the current stratospheric COE prices and the fact that such theoretical predictions are counter-intuitive to most laypersons, this is a good time to put the pay-as-you-bid idea to the test.
Why not try it out for, say, four or five bidding exercises? If there is no impact on COE prices, the idea can be put to rest.
The sole objective of the COE system, as Singaporeans understand it, is to execute the vehicle zero-growth policy.
If a pay-as-you-bid system is at least as equally effective as the current one in executing this policy, there is really no good reason to dismiss it.

Cheng Shoong Tat


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Overcharged on bus fares due to card reader errors​

Oct 19, 2023

I refer to the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) reply highlighting some of the benefits of using the SimplyGo app (View SimplyGo transactions in app and at ticketing machines, Oct 10).
I would like to ask LTA to look at one pain point for commuters – the overcharging of bus fares due to errors involving card readers on buses. I first wrote about this issue in the Forum page in 2013, and, even after a decade, this is still happening.
Often, the card reader does not display the actual stop, but typically one stop before it, and this information is captured when commuters tap their cards as they board the bus.
Until the error is rectified, perhaps after a commuter brings it to the bus captain’s attention, commuters are overcharged without their realising it, unless they check the SimplyGo app later.
This happened to me twice in August and again twice in September.
For the incidents in August, I was able to file my refund claims easily through the SimplyGo app.
For the ones in September, because the app was undergoing maintenance, I had to call TransitLink for a customer service officer to file the claims on my behalf. One of the officers I spoke to made an error, so I had to call again to get the matter resolved. All this was a lot of trouble, through no fault of mine.

LTA should make sure corrective actions are taken to prevent such incidents.

Raju M. Iyer


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Consider using double-deck buses for weekday peak periods​

Oct 24, 2023

I regularly take SMRT bus service 975 from the bus stop opposite Lot 1 shopping mall to work. This service passes by key installations like the Home Team Academy, Tengah Air Base and Sungei Gedong Camp. Many foreign workers also use the service to get to their workplaces and dormitories located in Old Choa Chu Kang Road and beyond.
During morning peak hours, the queues can get very long at the bus stop I use. And it is normal for commuters to have to wait for the next bus, as the bus becomes full quickly.
In all my years taking this service, I have seen only single-deck buses plying this route during weekday peak hours. However, I have noticed double-deckers deployed during the weekend, when there are fewer commuters.
What is the rationale for this? SMRT should consider deploying double-decker buses during weekday peak periods to ease congestion.

Mohanraj Virasamy


Alfrescian (Inf)

Novena MRT station reopens after closure caused by smoke from air-con unit​


In an update at 7.29pm, SMRT said the station has reopened for service. PHOTOS: JOANNE LOH

Aqil Hamzah

Oct 27, 2023

SINGAPORE – Trains travelling along the North-South Line skipped Novena MRT station on Friday evening after an air-conditioning unit filled the underground station with smoke.
The incident led SMRT to close the station and trains to skip the stop for about two hours during the evening travel peak.
A video posted on Facebook at about 5.45pm showed smoke trailing upwards from the station platform to the gantries of the MRT station.
SMRT said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the station was closed as at 5.49pm because of an “incident”, without providing details. It said in a subsequent post at 7.29pm that the station had reopened for service.
Apologising for the inconvenience caused, SMRT said free bus services were available for passengers travelling between Newton and Toa Payoh stations. These were still available even after the station reopened.

Several Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) vehicles, including a fire engine and Light Fire Attack Vehicles, were spotted outside the station during the incident.
SCDF said in a Facebook post that SMRT had alerted it to “white smoke” and a burning smell at the Novena station’s concourse area at about 5.30pm.

“Upon SCDF’s arrival, the white smoke... had dissipated. Following preliminary investigations by SCDF and SMRT, the source of the white smoke was determined to be from the motor of an air handling unit inside a room at the concourse level,” it said. No one was injured.
An air handling unit is a large commercial air-conditioner.
SMRT has since isolated the unit’s system for further investigations. It referred ST to its social media channels when approached with queries.

Civil servant Joanne Loh arrived at the station only to hear an announcement that “the station is still investigating the cause of the alarm”. Passengers were instead asked to take the feeder bus service. SMRT staff told commuters that the trains were fine, but the station had an “issue”, she said.
The 33-year-old added that the bus stop was very crowded, and there was heavy traffic in the area.
“I’m not thrilled to take a longer route to my destination (Rochor MRT station), but I guess it can’t be helped,” she said.

True Believer

Train fault causes delay on East-West Line between Outram Park and Queenstown
SMRT said in a tweet at 8.51am that commuters should add 25 minutes to their travel time due to the train fault, which affected services from Outram Park to Queenstown stations in the direction of Tuas Link. "We are sorry for affecting commuters' morning commute," Ms Teo added.
How does the Govt expect more S'poreans to give up on car ownership if our public transport is only a "world class" in their own eyes? What right do politicians have to comment on the reliability of public transport when they don't drive daily?


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Lorries still travelling above 60kmh despite speed-limiter requirement​

NOV 8, 2023

According to the law, all lorries in Singapore with a maximum laden weight (MLW) exceeding 12,000kg are required to have onboard speed limiters to ensure that their drivers do not exceed 60kmh on the roads.
Until recently, I did not know about this law because I routinely come across large lorries that are clearly exceeding the 60kmh limit on highways.
I can tell because when I drive my car at 70kmh to 80kmh on the adjacent lane, these heavy vehicles are keeping pace with me, and, quite often, are going faster than me.
I therefore wonder how effective the speed limiters are. Is it possible for a lorry driver to install a speed limiter, pass whatever qualifying test is needed and then remove the device so that he can speed to his heart’s content?
Recently, the Traffic Police announced that owners of smaller lorries with an MLW of between 3,501kg and 12,000kg will have to start installing speed limiters from January 2024, with drivers being given until the end of December 2027 to install the devices (Speed limiters will soon be required for lorries in lower weight category, Nov 3).
How will extending the rule on speed limiters to smaller goods vehicles help?
I have been driving for over three decades now and know that in the past commercial vehicles with labels stating 60kmh on their rear panels generally kept to the left-most lane on highways.

But not any more. Today, it is common to find commercial vehicles of all shapes and sizes hogging the middle lane of highways.
These include heavy vehicles that keep to their speed limit, but still hold up traffic on this lane.
As a result, the overall traffic flow on our highways has slowed considerably.
Motorists who usually drive on the middle lane and use the right outermost lane only for overtaking are now forced to hog the right lane.
What is worse is that I have, on several occasions, encountered drivers of large lorries blatantly speeding on the right outermost lane, often refusing to get out of the lane until some infuriated motorist behind flashes the car headlights or sounds the horn.
All this does not augur well for road safety and courtesy. I rarely see Traffic Police officers patrolling the highways to enforce the rules, and, as a result, the situation seems to be getting worse.
Also, even if speed limiters work efficiently, the installation process for smaller goods vehicles will not be completed until December 2027.
How will the situation on the highways be managed in the meantime?

Francis Dorai


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Keep bus services going till MRT station opens​

Nov 21, 2023

I read with dismay about bus service 167 being ended and bus service 162’s route being changed from Dec 10 (Bus service 167 to cease from Dec 10, Nov 17).
I live along Thomson Road and rely on both these bus services to commute to my office in the Central Business District several days a week, as do many of my neighbours.
While the Land Transport Authority (LTA) cited lower bus ridership along the Thomson East Coast Line (TEL) for the changes, my neighbours and I still rely on the bus services as the opening of the TEL station closest to us, Mount Pleasant, has been delayed indefinitely.
In addition, our stretch of Thomson Road is often congested daily, with heavy traffic and multiple road closures due to the construction of the North-South Corridor, which makes commuting by private car a lengthy and frustrating experience.
I urge LTA to re-evaluate its decision and consider operating bus services to serve the Thomson Road area until the Mount Pleasant station starts operating.

Lin Lizhen


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Removal of parallel bus services sets back car-lite push​

Nov 21, 2023

I read with interest the decision to remove and amend bus services in the most recent route rationalisation exercise (Bus service 167 to cease from Dec 10, Nov 17). Bus route rationalisation exercises reduce or remove bus routes that are already served by new train lines.
However, in the face of the Government’s car-lite efforts, such a move is rather contradictory. One core tenet of a car-lite society is the ease of public transport use, and giving users choices of public transport services is key to achieving that.
This is also crucial in incidents when trains break down and delays occur. Users can cut over smoothly to existing parallel bus routes, rather than scramble and queue for bus bridging services.
Moreover, removal of bus routes will redirect more commuters to take short trips via other existing bus services just to get to the nearest MRT station. This will likely result in more people using these bus services, causing these buses to be sporadically full on routes in between MRT stations. Commuters who use the services to get to their destination rather than an MRT station may then not be able to board the buses.
Such scenarios frustrate existing commuters, and discourage existing car owners from giving up their cars to use public transport, setting back the Government’s car-lite efforts.
The route rationalisation exercise needs to be tweaked, or overhauled altogether, to reflect the Government’s car-life efforts.

Randy Ho


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Provide more bicycle bays at HDB void decks​

NOV 14, 2023

Many bicycle owners have been issued notices from the town councils for parking their bicycles indiscriminately.
There are not enough bicycle bays in HDB void decks as such bays can take a maximum of only 10 bicycles.
Bays are often stretched beyond their maximum capacity, with at least 20 bicycles in a row. This has become a very common sight in many void decks. It is not only unsightly but also poses a safety hazard.
Many HDB residents do not have enough space in their flats to store their bicycles, and putting them in common corridors is not a good option.
They have to resort to parking their bicycles indiscriminately along staircases or any common vacant area, often inconveniencing other residents.
As people are encouraged to exercise, many now have their own bicycles instead of renting them.
The authorities should provide more bicycle bays at void decks, similar to the two-tiered bays at some new estates and MRT stations, to alleviate the space constraints.

Tan Keong Boon


Alfrescian (Inf)

54-year-old man injured after SBS Transit bus crashes into tree in Bishan and gets top ripped off​

1 of 2

The SBS Transit double-decker bus hit a tree branch, resulting in a large part of its roof getting ripped off. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO READER


Web-like cracks can be seen on the windshield of the upper deck of the bus after it crashed into a tree branch. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO READER


Yong Li Xuan

Nov 23, 2023

SINGAPORE - A 54-year-old commuter was injured after an SBS Transit double-decker bus crashed into a tree in Bishan on Nov 22, resulting in a large part of its roof getting ripped off.
In response to queries, the police said they were alerted to the accident in Bishan Street 22 towards Bishan Street 24 at 10.32pm.
SBS Transit spokesperson Grace Wu said service 88 hit a tree branch, damaging especially the upper deck of the bus.
In a photo sent by a Lianhe Zaobao reader, web-like cracks can be seen on the windshield of the upper deck of the bus.
In another photo, the left side of the roof and some windows appear to have been ripped off, with parts of the roof dangling from the damaged side.
A Lianhe Zaobao report said a large strip of metal from the roof of the bus was found on the grass patch by the sidewalk. SBS Transit employees were also seen cleaning up the area when a Zaobao reporter on Nov 23 went to the accident site in the morning
The report added that residents said they heard a loud noise and went to see what had happened.

The injured passenger was conscious when taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital after the accident, said the authorities.
In a statement on Nov 23, Mrs Wu said: “He has since been discharged, and we are in touch with him to extend care and concern, and are rendering assistance as best we can.
“We would also like to apologise to affected commuters for the distress and inconvenience caused.”
SBS Transit is conducting a probe into the cause of the incident, she added.
The police said a 55-year-old male bus driver is helping with investigations.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Ensure proper use of personal mobility aids​

NOV 17, 2023

The proliferation of personal mobility aid (PMA) scooters, accompanied by their increased abuse, has led to public annoyance.
I have seen PMAs on the road, where they are not allowed.
The issue extends further to the haphazard parking of PMAs in public spaces, including shopping malls (Man calls for parking zone for mobility scooters after elderly parents get ‘advisory’ at AMK Hub, Nov 15).
It’s crucial to emphasise that PMAs are for those unable to walk or who have walking difficulties, and they help the elderly and handicapped to achieve independent mobility.
I wonder if their use is being abused by those who don’t need to use them.
The Government was studying the need for PMA users to get a doctor’s certificate to certify that the users are disabled or have a mobility issue (‘Pseudo-motorcycle without COE’: Panel considering new rules for devices like PMAs, cargo bikes, March 15, 2022).
Will these guidelines for PMA usage be implemented?

Chen Wei Yi


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Do more to stop taxi drivers from touting​

Nov 28, 2023

It is infuriating to learn that some taxi drivers are quoting high arbitrary prices for short journeys from Marina Bay Sands to other parts of town.
It was reported that the drivers allegedly wanted to charge a flat fee of about $60 for a journey to Orchard Road, which is less than 5km away.
The refusal to use the meter and especially the targeting of tourists are giving Singapore a bad image.
Many countries are trying their best to attract more tourists to their shores. If such touting persists or worsens, foreigners will avoid travelling to Singapore.
Taxi companies must constantly remind their drivers of the severe penalty if caught touting.
Local residents who witness such touting must step up to assist the tourists. We can perhaps guide them to take other forms of public transport instead of just relying on taxis.

While the touts are a minority among the many taxi drivers who earn an honest living, the bad publicity may mean less business for the drivers as tourists and locals will use other means of transport instead.

It is good that more manpower has been deployed to monitor the situation on the ground, and signboards have been set up to remind passengers to avoid drivers who tout and charge exorbitant fees. Perhaps signboards showing the contact numbers to report such practices should be put up prominently too.
I hope these unfair and disgraceful practices will be stopped completely.

Foo Sing Kheng


Alfrescian (Inf)

Forum: Make it illegal to make or sell small licence plates​

Nov 28, 2023

It should be an offence for car and motorcycle licence plate makers to make or sell unapproved plates (To ‘look nice’ or avoid detection? Why some motorists risk flouting the law with small licence plates, Nov 25).
This will be similar to the requirement for shops to sell only personal mobility devices with approved batteries due to fire hazards.
Makers should stop feeding the demand for such plates.
Small licence plates, chosen for aesthetic purposes or as a means to avoid detection by speed and red light cameras, also endanger the lives of pedestrians and other motorists.
Those with such plates are emboldened to flout traffic laws because they dangerously believe they won’t be caught.
It may also be difficult for Housing Board carparks with barrier-free gantries to detect these motorists and motorcyclists who go quickly through the barriers and thus enjoy free parking.

Lau Wai Kwok


Alfrescian (Inf)

ComfortDelGro to raise cab fares from Dec 13; Prime Taxi to follow suit​


The flag-down fares of ComfortDelGro taxis will increase by 50 cents from Dec 13. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Kolette Lim

Dec 6, 2023

SINGAPORE - Singapore’s largest taxi operator ComfortDelGro will raise flag-down fares by 50 cents for its regular cabs, as well as distance and time-based charges by one cent, from Dec 13 at 6am.
This is to help drivers defray higher operating costs due to rising fuel prices, high inflation and the upcoming goods and service tax (GST) hike from 8 per cent to 9 per cent starting Jan 1, the company said in a statement on Dec 6.
As at October, ComfortDelGro ran a fleet of 8,841 Comfort and CityCab taxis, or about 64 per cent of the market, based on figures from the Land Transport Authority.
Another cab operator, Prime Taxi, told The Straits Times it also plans to raise its fares.
After the adjustments, the starting fare of a ComfortDelGro Hyundai i40 cab will increase from $3.90 to $4.40, while that for a Toyota Prius and a Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid taxi will climb from $4.10 to $4.60.
Flag-down fares for Hyundai Ioniq, Toyota Kona, Toyota Sienta Hybrid and BYD e6 taxis will increase from $4.30 to $4.80.
The increase in starting fares does not apply to limousine taxis, such as MaxiCab and Mercedes-Benz cabs. Flag-down fares for the limousine fleet will remain at $4.80, after an increase from $4.10 in November.

But charges for distance travelled and wait times will rise for all its fleets. For regular taxis, there will be a one-cent increase for distance rates to 26 cents for every 400m under 10km and every 350m after 10km, up from 25 cents (inclusive of a one-cent temporary fare tariff in effect till June 30, 2024).
For limousine cabs, a one-cent increase will be rolled out too, with distance and time-based fares increasing by intervals of 36 cents instead of 35 cents.
With the adjustment, the estimated fare for a 10km trip in a normal taxi during off-peak hours will increase by 6.8 per cent, or 94 cents, from $13.80 to $14.74.

The operator last raised its fares in March 2022, the first increase in a decade. That adjustment included a 20-cent increase in flag-down fares for both normal taxis and limousines.
On Dec 6, ComfortDelGro also announced that it would extend the period during which an evening peak-hour surcharge applies by an hour.
It will cover the period from 5pm to 11.59pm from Monday to Sunday, including public holidays. Right now, the peak-hour surcharge is in effect from 6pm to 11.59pm.
A new peak-hour surcharge will also be introduced from 10am to 1.59pm on weekends, including public holidays.
Mr Tommy Tan, chief executive of ComfortDelGro’s taxi business, said the increase ensures that its drivers receive fair earnings with the rising cost of operations.
“For the past few years, our cabbies’ earnings had been impacted first by the pandemic, and then by higher operating expenses due to an increase in fuel prices and high inflation,” he added.
The peak-hour surcharge changes also ensure that there are enough taxis on the road to meet rising commuter demand at peak hours, he said.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in April 2020, ComfortDelGro has provided its drivers with rental waivers and continues offering a waiver of 10 per cent.

Renting a Toyota Sienta cab from ComfortDelGro costs $118 daily for up to six days, and $98 per day for more than six days.
Rental for a Mercedes-Benz E-class taxi costs $388 a day for up to six days, and $368 daily for a longer rental period.
National Taxi Association adviser Yeo Wan Ling said the higher takings from the fare increase will help drivers support their families better.
“The impending increase in GST is also an additional cost on their operations, as it impacts their rental, food and parking expenses, among others,” she added.
ComfortDelGro cabby Chan Pak Kin, 70, told ST the increased fares do not go far enough to alleviate rising operating costs.
“The additional amount will be erased once I get a fine for speeding or a parking summons. The company should look at reducing the rental costs instead,” he said.
The higher fares could also turn potential customers away, he added. They might instead opt for ride-hailing trips with companies such as Grab if they offer lower fares.
Mr Neo Chee Yong, deputy general manager of motor group Prime, which operates Prime Taxi, said the company will also adjust its fares to help drivers cope with higher operating costs and inflation.
He declined to disclose the extent of the increase and when it would take effect.
At present, the flag-down rate for Prime, the smallest taxi operator here with 532 cabs as at October, ranges from $4.10 to $4.50.
Ms Jasmine Tan, general manager of taxi firm Trans-Cab, said the company will also roll out the same peak-hour surcharge adjustments as ComfortDelGro from Dec 13.
The company has not decided if fares should be increased, she added.
“Prices for everything, including housing and petrol, are rising, so we want to help our drivers cushion their operating costs,” said Ms Tan.
Right now, Trans-Cab, Singapore’s third-largest operator with about 2,100 cabs, imposes a surcharge of 25 per cent of the metered fare from 6am to 9.29am on weekdays, excluding public holidays, and 6pm to 11.59pm daily, including public holidays.
Strides Premier, Singapore’s second-largest operator with about 2,200 cabs, said it “will be monitoring the situation closely before making any decision” on fare adjustments.


Alfrescian (Inf)

7 taxi drivers caught for overcharging passengers at MBS and Changi Airport​


Under the LTA Vocational Licence Demerit Points System, cabbies who rack up six demerit points or more can get their vocational licence suspended. PHOTO: ST FILE

Sarah Koh

DEC 15, 2023

SINGAPORE – Seven cabbies have been hauled up for overcharging passengers at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Changi Airport over a four-month period.
Between September 2023 and December 2023, two taxi drivers were found to have asked passengers to pay a fare that was up to $20 more than the metered fare.
Two other drivers collected a fare that was $20 or more than what was shown on the meter, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in a statement on Dec 15.
The four drivers were offered a chance to pay a $500 penalty, and be given 12 or 21 demerit points – depending on the fare they collected.
The alternative was to face charges for their offences under the Public Transport Council Act.
Three other drivers were found to have asked passengers for fares beyond the metered fare, but the passengers did not take their cabs in the end, said the statement.
It added that the drivers were offered a chance to compound their offences at $100 instead of being charged in court. If they opt to pay the compound fine, they will get three demerit points.

Under the LTA Vocational Licence Demerit Points System, cabbies who rack up six demerit points or more can get their vocational licence suspended.
Cabbies that notch up 21 demerit points or more can have their vocational licence revoked.
LTA and MBS have worked closely to improve the traffic situation and manage the taxi queue at the driveway of the integrated resort, where there have been more incidents of touting and overcharging, the statement said.

On its part, MBS will set up a limousine service counter at its driveway to offer a premium service option for people who do not want to join the taxi queue.
Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Yeo Wan Ling – an adviser to the National Taxi Association and National Private Hire Vehicles Association – said in a Facebook post that the two organisations have received feedback from its drivers about touting.
She said: “Such activities give our Singaporean taxi and private hire driving trade a bad reputation and directly impact the livelihoods and safety of our drivers.
“The associations have worked with the LTA closely on the feedback, and support the stern enforcement taken by the LTA on errant drivers.”

She added that the two bodies will continue to help drivers operate in a fair and positive environment, and provide them with a sustainable platform to earn a living ethically and safely.
LTA said it has sent out a reminder to taxi drivers about the penalties for touting and overcharging, and that it takes a serious view of such offences.
It said: “Such practices by a minority of drivers compromise the interests of passengers and undermine the integrity and reputation of the point-to-point passenger transport industry.”
It added that enforcement efforts will be stepped up during the festive period and that it will not hesitate to take errant drivers to task.
“We will also continue to conduct frequent checks at high-traffic areas, potential hot spots and locations reported to LTA by members of the public,” it said.
In a Facebook post on Dec 15, Acting Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat said the irresponsible actions of a small minority of drivers ruins Singapore’s reputation, negatively impacts the industry’s standing, and is unfair to commuters and other drivers.
“Hope the message is loud and clear – please do not break the rules, or be prepared to face the consequences when you are caught, like what happened to the seven errant drivers,” he added.

Members of the public can report incidents of touting, overcharging or drivers refusing to use the taxi’s meter at [email protected] or the e-service titled “Report Vehicle-Related Offences” at www.onemotoring.lta.gov.sg.