As mentioned earlier, policy makers can be real small-minded, failing to take into account the broader interest.
According to The Straits Times tonight, motorists using the Second Link bridge, which connects Singapore and Malaysia on the western side of Singapore, will have to pay more in tolls from next month.
The report cited Singapore's Land Transport Authority as saying that the higher rates are 'pegged to those set by Malaysia'.At the Second Link, charges will go up by as much as 30 per cent. Tolls for motorcycles, cars and light commercial vehicles will be 70 Singapore cents, S$4.60 and S$10.50 respectively from Feb 1. They were previously 60 Singapore cents, S$3.70 and S$8.30. For big lorries, buses and taxis, Second Link charges will be S$21, S$5.60 and S$3.50 respectively - from S$16.60, S$4.40 and S$2.70. And that's only the toll payable at the Singapore end!
The ST report said "those who opt to use the slightly more congested Causeway will mostly see no change."
Er, slightly more congested? The causeway is way, way more congested than the Second Link. Check out the live webcam provided by one.motoring at the two bridges if you don't believe me, especially in the mornings, evenings, and during weekends.
As argued in an earlier posting, it doesn't quite make sense for Singapore to match the toll imposed by Malaysia simply because the two countries built the second link bridge jointly in the late 1990s.
It also doesn't make sense to increase toll at the under-utilised Second Link as it would merely drive traffic to the already over-utilised and cheaper causeway. Both sides should be lowering toll at the Second Link to encourage more people to use the Second Link, which is not as well located as the causeway for residents of the two countries.
Policy makers of the two countries have obviously failed to take into account the massive cross-border flow of people and goods via the causeway. Both sides have simply acted in their governments' narrow interest without taking into account the hardship imposed on people on both sides of the causeway. The time and productivity wasted as a result of being stuck in the traffic gridlock on the causeway far outweighs the gains to the government in the form of higher toll collection.
Malaysian and Singapore transport officials have obviously not made much headway in easing traffic at the causeway. Malaysian lorries continue to enter Singapore via the causeway although there was a plan to divert them to the Second Link temporarily to facilitate construction work of the immigration complex at the Malaysian end.
Why should we all pay for the two governments' failure to ensure a smooth lane for motorists traveling between the two countries?
Causeway blues again (1 December 2007)
Causeway blues (20 January 2007)
Cleaning up Johor Straits good for Singapore too (7 September 2007)