Saturday, May 21, 2005

Is EZ really easy?

2002: Singapore Bus Services and Trans-Island Bus Services claimed to have lost about $13 million yearly to commuters who did not pay the correct fare.

April 2002: $300 million ez-link system introduced to reduce lost revenue due to fare cheats and passengers who paid the wrong fares unintentionally.

July 2002: Error rates for bus rides (1.5% error, common reason being bus drivers forgetting to update fare stages) and MRT rides (0.5% error, due to technicalities) are revealed in parliament.

August 2004: $9 million Vehicle Location System (VLS) which uses satellite technology to track buses in order to automatically update bus fare stages is implemented, supposedly to reduce human error in fare stage updating.

May 2005: SBS Transit applied for a fare increase in line with the new formula recommended by the Fare Review Mechanism Committee, justified by rising costs due to wage increases, fuel prices and infrastructure costs.

"Buses and the not so ez-link", ChannelNewsAsia
"SBS Transit justifies fare hike on the basis of rising operating costs", ChannelNewsAsia

Yesterday's "Buses and the not so ez-link" article highlighted some concerns over the overcharging issue. Today i read in the Newpaper that 1700 people submitted claims for double deduction in April 2005 alone; 1700 claims submitted with probably many more unknowing of their double-deduction.

Overcharging Scenario 1: EZ-link card reader mode
1) You board the bus, you tap your EZ-link card, you hear the "dood".
2) The bus is crowded, you stand near the front of the bus.
3) You need to alight, you decide to alight by the front door.
4) You tap your EZ-link card, you hear the "dood". could have been double-deducted... IF.
If the bus driver did not switch the reader to "Entry/Exit" mode, the reader would be in the default "Entry only" mode, meaning the maximum fare at that stage is deducted again as you hear the "dood".

Overcharging Scenario 2: $9million loses the bus
1) You board the bus, you tap your EZ-link card, you hear the "dood".
2) The bus moves off, you take your seat/stand.
3) The $9million VLS system somehow loses track of the bus along the way.
4) The $9million VLS system re-acquires the bus along the way.
4) You need to alight, you alight by the back door.
5) You tap your EZ-link card, you hear the "dood". could have been double-deducted... IF.
if the $9million VLS sytem lost communication with the ez-link card reader along the way. According to SBS Transit, the "VLS system had lost communication with the ez-link card reader (in an instance), and subsequently updated the incorrect fare stage when communication was re-established, resulting in the (commuter) being overcharged."

What am i saying?
I'm just warning you, my dear readers, to be aware that such unfortunate deductions are very possible.

BUT... even if you notice incorrect fare deductions you might not want to reclaim the lost fare because it's simply too troublesome. Go check out the Customer Claim procedures to decide if it's worth the $0.30.

My opinion?
A minimum of $0.30 extra per person
x roughly 3000 people (guesstimate) per day double-deducted
x 30/31 days a month
= A LOT OF extra money a month...

Do we still need a fare increase?

I should mention this is simply an eye-opening entry...


Blogger whimsical_fantasies said...

Which is why Mich is a hardcore fan of Bus 240. -winks-

Sun May 22, 02:31:00 AM  

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