Buying and maintaining a car in Singapore is an expensive undertaking, but given the choice between that and commuting to work via public transport, most would opt for the former. After all, who enjoys squeezing themselves onto packed trains and buses twice a day, five days a week?
Apart from the lack of personal space, many commuters are also unwillingly subjected to “hazards” while commuting. These include being thrown forward on buses (because most bus captains like to brake hard at the last moment, just as they approach a bus stop) and being shoved aside while boarding trains. There are also biological hazards to contend with. Ask any commuter if they’ve had to endure body odour, bad breath or sweaty arms being brushed against them – they’ll be shuddering as they reply.
Now, aside from said hazards, what most commuters cannot stand is waiting. Time spent waiting at bus stops and MRT platforms is time spent doing nothing. If you spent 20 minutes a day waiting for buses and trains, you’d have lost an hour by Wednesday. The time cost and time loss is staggering.
Commuting from my home in Pasir Ris to the office takes about an hour. If I drove a car, it would only take 30 minutes. If I left my house at 7:30am instead of 8am, I would only spend 20 minutes behind the wheel.
I wouldn’t mind cycling to work if the park connectors from my place were actually connected to the ones near my workplace. That would get me in shape in no time at all. I would also be willing to carpool, but none of my colleagues live nearby.
What car owners pay for is not just convenience, but their own personal space. It’s unlikely you’d have to inhale anyone’s odour or have their sweat wiped on you. In your car, you get to listen to the music you like, without anyone else drowning yours out with theirs. And if anyone talks too loudly, you can threaten to leave them by the side of the road.
I’d be a much happier commuter if bus and train waiting times were drastically decreased. But until such improvements occur, driving is still the quickest, most convenient and hazard-free way of getting around.