With Palmergate going on, I guess Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew must be getting some respite from those who have been haranguing him about his comments that bus fares must go up so that bus drivers’ salaries can. Frankly, it was a crazy thing to say. Nobody is going to take that sort of comment sitting down, especially about an essential service like public transport, ran by profit-making private operators who’ve just been handed $1.1b worth of new buses paid by taxpayers.
Mr Lui tried to clarify his position according to media reports today. Note I use the word “tried’’. Now he says it wasn’t to increase bus operators’ profits in the short-term but he just wanted to make clear that the money for salaries must come from somewhere, not just from operators or government subsidies. And of course, he meant that service levels must go up…you ninny.
He added: “What received less notice was my statement that when the fare review committee submits its report next year, we would be better able to see the relationship between any fare adjustment, wage increases, and what government support needs to be given to the groups most affected by the increase’’.
He might as well have said that he should have said nothing at all and wait for the Richard Magnus report early next year. If Mr Lui was flying a kite with his first comments, the kite’s been shot down. In any case, an increase in bus fares is poison for the G in any election…or by-election.