Of Train and Bus: The Exploited Singapore Worker

"In Taiwan, bus drivers are paid around NT$60,000 (S$2,570) a month - more than twice what some fresh university graduates get." [Straits Times]

My interest in this topic came back when someone new contacted me by email. I'll leave his name out as I'm not sure if he is comfortable with me revealing it. His wife is currently working as a bus driver in Perth, fetching A$31 per hour for her effort. That is what I was told. By all means be skeptical but don't shoot the messenger. 

With a simple check online I found some data and let me share it with you: (edited after feedback. Thank you)

Salary guide depicting bus driver salary in Australia

Using the lowest figure in the salary survey as an assumption of a starting salary of a bus driver in Australia, I will like to highlight 2 points from this. It is a bit lengthy but bear with me please.

As you know, it was announced recently that Singaporean bus drivers will get a 16% pay rise across the board with a starting pay for new bus drivers at $1,600. That's not bad news. Before the pay rise, new bus drivers used to be paid only $1,200. Considering even with the 16% pay hike, our new bus drivers are still paid about $1,000 less than the Taiwanese. We are supposed to be the 3rd richest country in the world with first world economy. Can't say the same about workers' welfare and wages can we?

Mind you, we are not even talking about social welfare. We are not asking for hand-outs. No. We are willing to work hard, even harder than before but all we ask for is a fair wage. Not the cheaper, better, faster bullshit. 

If you want to know what I mean by fair wage, let's just compare the difference between the salary of Perth bus and train drivers to Singapore. Don't bug with me about currency and living expenses differences yet please. The stupid me has learnt to be a little smarter. I'll use the Big Mac Index as the comparison framework. 

What is the Big Mac Index? 

The Big Mac Index is published by The Economist as an informal way of measuring the purchasing power parity (PPP) between two currencies and provides a test of the extent to which market exchange rates result in goods costing the same in different countries. [link]

Now let's start talking!

According to the chart, the Big Mac prices in respective countries:

Taiwan: NT$75
Australia: A$4.56
Singapore: S$4.41

Monthly wages of bus drivers:

Taiwan: NT$60,000
Australia: A$2,535 after tax [calculator]
Singapore: S$1,600 (don't cut you 20% for cpf lah)

Number of Burgers bus drivers can eat a month:

Taiwan: 800
Australia: 555
Singapore: 362

You must be laughing when I mention Big Mac Index right? Now you aren't. Look at how close the Purchasing Power of workers in Taiwan and Australia have. Spookily close. That's the first world standard we are talking about. It will be alright if Singapore is somewhere there, we are not really so unforgiving aren't we? But just look at how far we are off the mark against Taiwan or Australia.

What about other sectors in the transport industry? I understand that new train drivers in Singapore are paid only $1,200. That's odd isn't it? Train drivers are supposed to service more people at about 2000 passengers each time compared to a bus at about 100.

Using New Jersey as a guideline, train driver are paid 26% more than a bus driver here. Moreover, looking at the track record [link] of bus drivers in Singapore, do we agree that it is incredulous that train driver in Singapore is paid even lower than a bus driver? Uniquely Singapore! We must also note that most bus drivers these days are foreigners compared to train drivers who are mainly locals. They prefer to pay foreigners more than locals? This is getting too common isn't it? 

If you compare our train driver with his counterpart in any other part of the world, he is paid only peanuts. In UK, a train driver only works 35 hrs per week and is paid at least £50,000 a year yet they still go on strike to demand for more pay. Our standard working hours is 44 hours per week. One joker insisted that this is our 'Swiss standard' of living. Only that the joke isn't funny.

Our train drivers can't go on strike here or they will arrested and put behind bars. It's the kind of third world living conditions and workers' rights even though we are acknowledged as a first world country. If the Union Chief does not support better welfare and benefits for the workers, there is actually no recourse at all. The tripartite system rules out any industrial action which is again, uniquely Singapore. 


Additional: I received a comment from a Statistician, citing I didn't do a fair comparison for taking an average pay vs a starting pay. So for the benefit of the statistician, whom I am honoured to have here, I will REDO the comparison.

Look here : One chart to rule them all [link]. This time it is average vs average, tooth vs tooth, nail vs nail. Let's see what we have got for the same countries I used to compare with:

My earlier computation shows we are almost 50% of the mark. worldsalaries.org shows that we are only 27% of Australia's PPP and 61% of Taiwan's. Alamak, lagi worse sia! Even with the recent pay increment, I still don't see the same number of burgers like Statistician said I would.

I wonder why is it so hard for us to agree that we are exploited in every sense of the word. We don't even need figures to tell us that actually.


  1. =========
    In UK, a train driver only works 35 hrs per week and is paid at least £50,000 a year yet they still go on strike to demand for more pay.

    Bro... that's a lot leh... £50,000 a year is more than SGD100k a year, and only need to work 35 hours per week.

    The politicians in UK are paid much lower than the MIWs (Millionaires-In-Whites), but the workers' wages in UK are much higher compared to the workers here.

    Meaning that the gap between the politicians' and workers' wages is much smaller in UK, compared to here. LHL's ONEDAY salary is easily more than the ANNUAL salary of cleaner earning $800/month.

    Depending on how u calculate, a cleaner gotta work 20 to 30 years to earn what LHL earn in one year, assuming both their salaries remain stagnant (though very unlikely for LHL "rocket-shooting" salary increment).

    - 365days / 12months = 30years approx. or
    - 52weeks x 5days / 12months = 21years approx.

  2. Bro, can you get TOC to post your article and other sites, we need more coverage. This is a good argument to explain to our daft population

    1. Better to let the articles remain here lah, else wait this blog kenna hacked/attacked than jialat liao.

      TOC website has been having problems on and off (very slow, can't access, denial of service attack, etc.). Dunno is it kenna hacked/attacked or what.

      U can read the comments on the facebooks of LHL, PAP, and other MIWs, and u will realized how daft their supporters are. Some even commented that anti-pappies people are pea-brained (stupid), lazy, useless, etc.

  3. You really hit the nail at the correct place. It's rather shameful. That is why prominent academics also cannot tahan. They came out openly to point out the great wage disparity. But are they listening? No they just don't get it! Thks.

    1. Maybe it not that they don't get it. It's their (the pappies) interest to take care of themselves and their rich friends, since there is nothing the people can do (no strong union, can't riot, ISA, independent media/press, etc.) and no strong/majority-seated opposition to kick them out. Sometimes I find that the opposition members are sitting like dumb cows in parliament.

  4. There are two errors in your article.

    (1) You compare average salaries for New Jersey drivers with starting salaries for Singapore drivers.

    (2) You do not account for tax. The Singapore tax rate is much lower than the applicable state and federal tax rates for the New Jersey drivers.

    Once you make the two adjustments, you will see that they buy roughly the same number of Big Macs.

    The same mistake is made for your Taiwan and Australia figures, i.e. comparing starting salaries vs average salaries.

    The Statistician

    1. Frankly speaking, SINKaPOOR should tax the rich more and use this money to help the poor, lower-income, social welfare, etc.

      If the high tax will frighten off the rich, so be it. SG should be a home, not a playground for the rich.

    2. Great idea. If there are no more rich people to tax, then how are we going to raise any more money?

      The fact is that businessmen and businesses come to Singapore because of its low taxes. If taxes are raised, they leave for other places, e.g. Hong Kong. That means that there will be fewer businesses to employ our people. That means higher unemployment.

      It is correct to attract rich businessmen and successful businesses to set up shop in Singapore. That way we will all have jobs.

    3. Then let them (the rich) leave lah, since they are not willing to help (pay more tax) the less well-off. Why let sinkies be working like slaves to enrich the rich?

      Just take out the reserves to use, reduce the population to 3 millions or less (ask the foreigners to go back), and use the land for agriculture, aquaculture, cottage industries, etc.

      The GDP will drop, but so what? At least the people will have a simpler, slower-paced and contented lives. U want so much money for what? U think u can carry money to hell is it? A simple, happy, contented and fulfilling life is more important.

    4. you are wrong.

      My first job was a bus driver when i came to australia. The first thing i did was to get my hr licence and i managed to get a job as a public transport bus driver.

      My starting pay then was 900 a week after tax, which is double of what the drivers in singapore are getting. So your argument is invalid.

    5. The writer did not mention anything about New Jersey and he did account for tax for the Australian calculation and not even for Singapore's. You might be the one making the mistake here.

      The writer should update the average pay of Singapore's drivers as a comparison though, I bet you a big mac that it will still be lower than its counterparts. So the writer will still be right.

    6. liars, damn liars and statiscians. Lol

    7. Nix, I do agree with Statistician that you accidentally took Perth NJ as Perth WA. I did the same mistake before too. However, wish to share my salary in singapore Vs Perth to build your case. I am an allied health professional performing the same responsibilities in both countries. My salary a month in Singapore was SGD 1900 but here I received AUD 4600. Minus the (Max) 30% AUS tax, I still have AUD3200. This is close to double Singapore's pretax salary. As for Big Mac index: I will get 430 Singapore's BigMac Vs 701 Australis's BigMac. Working hours per week: 40 AUS Vs 42 SIN but I do get an unrecorded dayoff once a month in AUS. Statistician, I did not include the after tax in Singapore as they are insignificant for argument as I still received a 68% pay rise in AUS for the same job with less hours. MOT: pay rise has to match with increase productivity? But how with a 2hrs "productivity" gap and 68% salary gap to catch. 跑吧新加坡!

  5. Every time people talk about raising worker salaries, they have to understand that ultimately the cost of living goes up. This happens in two ways:

    1. The employer has a higher wage bill, in which case the employer has to raise prices.

    2. Higher wages translate to higher inflation.

    It's economics 101. It's nothing to do with fair or not fair. It's the free market.


    1. U mean suka-suka coming out with some sort of formalae/calculations to give themselves (the MIWs) astronomical multimillion salaries is consider "free market"?

      U mean the MIWs "productivity" jumped by 60% in a year (2007) to justify a 60% jump in their already astronomical salaries is consider "free market"?

      Singapore announces 60 percent pay raise for ministers
      Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will see his pay jump to 3.1 million Singapore dollars, five times the $400,000 earned by President George W. Bush.
      In this nation where the bottom line truly is the bottom line, the argument goes, you've got to pay to get them and you've got to pay to keep them.
      "If we don't do that, in the long term, the government system will slowly crumble and collapse," Defense Minister Teo Chee Hean told reporters last month.

    2. If you don't like it, you are free to vote out the PAP and vote in the Worker's Party. Oh wait, the Worker's Party agreed on the same numbers for ministerial pay.

      Anyway, if you don't like the free market, you can always go to North Korea. There is no free market there.

    3. Who cares about the WP? As long as I don't agree, I will continue to vote against the MIWs.

      The PM should not be paid more than S$10k/mth. The ministers should be paid only a few thousands a month. MPs should just receive a few hundreds as allowance, since it just a part-time vocation. That's more in line with what majority of the people earn in SG.

      How can a MP be paid more than S$15k/mth (almost S$200k/year or S$1 million over a term of 5 years)? A part-time vocation (a few hours a week) being paid almost 20 times the wage of a full-time cleaner (6 full days a week) earning S$800/mth? A cleaner's job is just as important as anyone, be it a manager, director, etc.

    4. even when you go North Korea to be North Korean,why your male children still have to come back to be Singaporean to serve NS, why no free market there?

  6. @Statistician,
    Why you didn't mention abt the working hours in New Jersey and Sg? It's 44 hrs (not including the 1 hr makan break) If u include that 1 hr, it's much more. What about the 20% CPF tax per month? That money is also a kind of tax which you will never get back even if u retire. Yes they also has e tax - social security tax but here is called CPF tax! It's more or less the same. Oh I forgot they don't pay GST on basic items or raw uncooked food even thought their VAT(here its GST) is much higher than us. Here even if u donate to charity they also tax u! What the maid levy tax, water & electricity tax, ERP rd tax, $91,000 COE tax for 10 yrs? In New Jersey do they have all these taxes?

    Note that the local bus drivers of $1,600 quoted is not CPF deducted yet!

    They say a little knowledge is dangerous! A bikini reveals a lot but covers up the essentials! Got it?

  7. Can you also provide the Bus fares comparison (including the Big Mac index) for Australia, Taiwan and Singapore?

    Take a typical journey: 1km bus ride + 15km train + 1km bus ride.

    1. As a State Ah Pek , in fact all Ah Peks PR in Western Australia, ie over 60 years old, I travel free (bus and train) during off peak hours week days and all day Saturday, Sunday and public holiday. No matter how many transfers or distances I make.

      In SGP, I know I have to pay whether it is peak hours or not and all day 7 days a week.

      Sorry, cannot comment on Taiwan. Never hop on a bus or train there.

    2. Comment on common people on typical journey lor. Don't quote only those covered by welfare.

    3. Common people drive

    4. lol :) ..so, just tell us: an adult who take public transport: 1km bus ride + 15km train + 1km bus ride, how much they would pay in, say, Sidney?

    5. AnonymousMay 4, 2012 08:59 AM

      I live in Perth, not Sydney. For the record, I have never taken a train once since I landed so I have to be very honest here. I don't know how much that cost. Though this is nothing to do with what my article is driving at.

      My friend Penny who is an adult and have been traveling by train to all her interview sessions will be happy to answer this. That day she was telling me how good the trains in Perth are so much so her friends from Sydney even commented on it.

      When I asked her how are they trains as compared to our World Class SMRT, she rolled her eyes and give me that "Are you an idiot" expression. As patriotic citizens like you and me will not let this go, we should pursue this indeed. I will ask her to take some photographs to prove her point so we can lambast her together if she is wrong.

      Another thing, the trains here have very good ventilation and feels cold traveling even in summer. Trust me, it can be very hot here in summer. That of course is from Penny as well. I can't get her to post a picture of her holding a thermometer in the train though so we will give her the benefit of doubt.

      Lastly, the trains here are spacious because most people drive to work, especially those who doesn't work in the city like me. Train passengers have more space per sqm to enjoy than Singapore. That - I could see it everyday because I live near a train track.

      Perhaps one day, you can come over to Perth to take the train, since you seem very interested in trains and buses ride. I assure you that you'll enjoy the rides tremendously. We can always sit down and compare how many such rides a waiter in Australia could take compared to the SMRT rides a waiter in Singapore could take.

      I'll provide coffee and a calculator.

    6. http://www.131500.com.au/tickets/fares/

      In Sidney,
      Bus Fare for 1km journey = $2.10
      Train for 15km = $4.20
      Journey of 1km Bus + 15km Train + 1km Bus = $8.40
      Big Mac Index ~ 1.85 Big Mac

      In Singapore,
      Bus Fare for 1km journey = $0.80
      Train for 15km = $1.20
      Journey of 1km Bus + 15km Train + 1km Bus = $2.80
      Big Mac Index ~ 0.65 Big Mac

      If Sidney's transport cost is applied to Singapore in Big Mac currency, Singapore commuters have to pay 1.85 Big Mac = $1.85 x $4.41 = $7.59

    7. Anon is using specious arguments trying to futilely validate his untenable points.

      Trying to compare public transport in Singapore and Australia is ridiculous - because MOST people in Singapore take public transport and MOST people in Australia drive.

      If you seriously want to compare anything - you should compare apple to apple. Otherwise, you fall into the standard PAP fallacy of cherry picking statistics to try and prop up your arguments. (Take the recent Khaw Boon Wan affair where he cherry picks dates to tell the world that HDB flats have not shrunk. What a dishonest person!)

    8. To Anon, that's not welfare. That's respect and care for all seniors as they age gracefully and covers PR's as well. It gets even better when you become a Commonwealth Senior! That is how this country looks after all their seniors. Go google Western Australian and Commmonwealth Seniors and then google Singapore Seniors.

    9. Hi,
      Hold it! I think this is getting a little out of hand. Everyone seems to be throwing stones at each other.
      I am a Singaporean who had stayed in Perth for the last 9 years, but I have never forgotten about Singapore which I had lived for the last 44 years. My girls came here when they were young cause they hated Chinese so much that they say they are English when they were young. But when they are here, they told me one day: "Mum, I am Chinese."
      They have never forgotten that they are Singaporeans. In fact, their hearts are always there because my extended families are there and they always have thought to go back to visit our folks there. Does that mean we love Perth more than Singapore. No! It is a choice we make 9 years ago to have a less stressful lifestyle. Singapore is our country which will always be in our heart, just as we love our adopted country, Australia. It is the system in Singapore that we have problem with not the Country per say.

      Singaporean Australian at Heart.

    10. @asingaporeanson, my point is ..there's no magic formula. every accounting book has 2 columns. while your point is we have not put bigger number on one column, you simply ignores the other column altogether. (the other column is not your point, eh?)

      ..or let me just put it this way, if one prepares to pay as much as one would pay bus & train in Sidney, he can take taxi in singapore.
      now, that's apple-to-apple on $$$ value.

    11. I'm not an accountant but I know from recent article Singapore is ranked 9th most expensive city in the world and Perth is ranked 12th.

      Ask a primary school kid and he can tell you living in SGP is more expensive and thus need higher salary to survive.

      Anyway, pls note this article use AFTER TAX salary to compare.

      If you guys insist on calculating cost, how about we include the FREE bus and train rides within Perth city? It cost 0 (ZERO) big mac. lol

    12. I don't like taxi in Perth! The driver doesn't know the road, and charge sky high.
      Some 'statistic' A$38 for a 16km journey from my home to the airport. In singapore for the same journey I paid not more than $15/- for same distance!! (can't remember the current Sg fare now)

      Also, the last time the WA driver cheated me and make me pay $48 for the same 13km journey claiming I told him not to take the busy road (highway!).

      Not related to this topic but still some statistics :P

    13. @AnonymousMay 5, 2012 02:49 AM

      Whichever column you are talking about, you are barking up the wrong tree my friend. We are not talking about intrinsic value here. If you are into this kind of thing, living in Singapore will not make sense to you either. You can take a taxi and probably take a prostitute home in Thai with the same money you spend on a trip from the airport to home in Singapore.

      If you prefer to bitch about this, please read my blog posts. We can get milk for $1 per litre here. I can get petrol here at $1.40. I can get beef at $8/kg, car coolant at $1/L, salmon at $13/kg, avocado for $0.20 per fruit. I can go on. So which side of the accounting column you are talking about now?

      However, this is not what the article is about. We are talking about Purchasing Power Parity here. I'm not sure if you quite get it but it's an entirely different thing from what you are trying to put across.

    14. @asingaporeanson, am not bitching about prices.

      the whole point is simply ..singapore can pay its bus drivers more IF AND ONLY IF the commuters pay more.

      you can use $$$ or Big Mac. if singaporean commuters are willing 2 Big Mac (as what Sidney commuters pay) for a typical Home->Office daily journey, ...then paying 800 Big Mac to Bus Drivers won't be such an issue.

      you see.. singaporean commuters pays 1/3 (in Big Mac currency) of what Sidney's commuters pay, yet singapore pays the Bus Drivers 1/2.

      Again: the whole point is simply ..singapore can pay its bus drivers more IF AND ONLY IF singaporean commuters pay more.

    15. @AnonymousMay 5, 2012 06:03 AM

      You should have come straight to the point instead of getting everyone to calculate bus fares and stuff.

      I'm not buying your IF AND ONLYs. That is good as propaganda in the Straits Times but not here.. If you really read what I wrote for you, I have mentioned better quality, much more spacious rides. During peak hours, I can find a seat in a bus on my way to town. That was before I got my car and I penned it here if you care to read it.


      You have deviated from the topic of value to business economics. It's still off-topic from what I am trying to present (PPP) but I'll response one final time.

      What you said doesn't make sense. If a bus driver in Perth drives a bus that is rarely full loaded everyday, he should be paid EVEN MORE if the companies decided to pack passengers like sardines like the way SMRT and SBS do in Singapore. It works both way. Both sides of the accounting columns, in your words. I suppose that is not a column you would like to look at.

      If you care to read another of my post here,

      You will have a peek at how SMRT achieve record net profits year-on-year for the last decade. If you want SBS's track record in the balance sheet, I can provide it for you too. Now if you want to tell me the transport companies in Singapore could only pay their drivers more IF AND ONLY IF Singaporeans commuters pay more, I'm sorry. That's beyond the pale in my opinion and I'll leave readers to judge whose argument is valid.

      Lastly do not forget the Singapore government spend billions of taxpayers' money mollycoddling transport companies.


      IF AND ONLY IF Singaporean commuters pay more. Ha. Are you Mr Lui? Thanks for visiting my blog.

    16. @asingaporeanson, sorry to disappoint, but am nobody, just happen to see ur blog post as it appeared on my FB wall.

      perhaps, you should check again. you can check online hansard or sbs financial reports ..and do confirm if, indeed, SBS record profit was due to its bus operation. [i encourage you, don't believe me - i don't even say anything :), do check!]

      unless you want to start arguing that government should subsidize transport fare, there's no magic formula - driver cost must be balanced by fare revenue.

      And whether u use Big Mac currency or Prata currency, public transport in singapore is much cheaper than aussie. Majority of singaporean only spend 1 Big Mac for double trips between home-office ..whereas in Sidney, a single trip costs 2 Big Mac.

      I get ur point that PPP Bus Driver is higher in Australia, ...and singapore is moving in the right direction in this matter. I just think it's one-sided to focus on cost, but ignore the revenue side of business.

      anyway, thanks for the discussion.

    17. "If and only if Singaporean commuters willing to pay more" like those in Australia then I say our PTOs will be making even more tons of money! In Sg almost all take public transport unlike in Australia. COEs nearly S$100,000 and with ERPs etc, even though own cars also take trains to work. That is the difference. It's a question of volume. It doesn't mean that the higher fares reflect higher salary of drivers. That is too binary a view!
      Even with that kind of high fares the Aussies ate paying, their trains are also losing money. In Sg, SMRT made more than S$100 million net profits. Why? Volume is the answer not the higher fares. It's true that fares are higher in Aus than Sg. What's the point?
      With higher fares come with higher salaries? Not that simple my fren.
      As it is the obscene profits made by PTOs the drivers are still paid a pittance! It's grossly unfair. I speak as one in the system. I know what I'm talking about.
      Now let's look at another angle and we talk WITHIN Sg. Why is the bus driver paid at $1,600 whereas the train driver is paid only $1,200? Usually train driver is paid more than bus driver right? Why? Is it the train driver is less productive or skillful than the bus driver? You tell me. Binary logic looks good but dangerous esp when it comes to policy cuz we are talking about stagnant pay for 12 yrs for train drivers! To believe it or not I will leave it to.

    18. @AnonymousMay 5, 2012 08:14 AM

      Sorry but I've been reading their annual reports for years. Since I have been an investor, I am obligated to read it for my own good. As far as I know, I know what I am talking about. Perhaps you may want to read it yourself.

      Sad to say, you completely disregard whatever I took time to write about the volume of passengers per trip per driver. Maybe because that completely puts off logic of Singapore commuters paying too low to pay drivers higher. You also disregard that trains are better quality, faster and better maintained here.

      If SBS is unable to be profitable due to its operation alone like you hinted, it shouldn't be a privatised company. Neither should the government create an anti-competition environment where only 2 transport companies can go into public transport. If our public transport system is such that a bus company is not profitable based on operations alone like you claimed, as the population (customers) goes up by more than 50% (3 million -> 5 million) over the years, then there is something wrong with the business. Someone else should run it.

      Let's face it. Say you run the only store in town for a service and the population in town has no alternative but to use your service. Your customer base raised from 3 million to 5 million over the years while the price of service rose steadily over the years as well and you still cannot be profitable due to revenue from the operations? Let someone else with better business skills to run it then. Come on, this is as good as HDB claiming they made billions of losses each year. So we are not paying enough for our HDB flats? That's your logic.

      At the end of the day, a problem has many solutions and not IF AND ONLY IF commuters pay more like you suggested.

    19. second that..

  8. include big mac index for car ownership too,most "typical" journey in oz is self driven. Most bus driver also owned cars.

  9. I love Australia!!!! Beautiful Place and I don`t mind paying high taxes at all!:) Just knowing The elderly and people in strife are supported and can afford to relax knowing that there will always be help for them if they ask for it.

  10. Yes u are right. No need statistics to tell us where we stand. We can see and feel for ourselves. My starting pay was $1,200 when I joined this company 15 yrs ago. It is still $1,200 today when prices of everything have gone up! Look at the HDB prices - I'm referring to the so called subsidized direct buying from HDB have gone up tremendously. Are we blind to this? Some smart ass just love to argue for the sake of argument. If u want to talk thru your ass, pls fart in an elegant and not crude manner. Throwing pot shots without giving the true picture. We just can't avoid retards and assholes around us can we?

  11. I have a IT friend that has many years of IT experience, and earns that same level of salary as this 'bus driver'. I have a look at seek.com and found that is the kind of salary for one specialised in IT (L1 to be exact). Didn't check on the bus driver so I can't compared. Therefore I 'concluded' that one that drive a bus, and one that fixed virus/do programming & serve the entired office (30 odd pple) are put in the same salary level in WA. I feel sad for my IT friend, but life is never fair.

    Sg gal in Perth.

  12. the point here is, in comparison, is the sg bus driver being exploited by the system (employers n the gov by not having good regulations)?

    also, comparatively, what is the purchasing power of the sg driver? is it at what society considers a humane level?

  13. Interesting discussion. Perhaps we should also look at how many bus drivers there are in Perth. It's easier to pay drivers 50k a year if they are only a handful in number.

  14. no point arguing lah, waste of electron only....:P

    A lot of ppl still in denial :(

    1. Yep.... turtles slowly boiling in the soup...

  15. Singapore's public transport system:
    When you take train, train breakdown;
    Take bus, bus lost way;
    Take taxi, taxi catch fire....

    1. Uniquely Singapore!

    2. Australia public transport system:
      Public holiday no bus.
      Weekend, bus runs every other hour. Miss one & I wanna cry.
      Weekday, certain bus stops at 7pm. omg
      What about train to the city? It runs every 15 to 20min during weekday.
      When the train gets fire, we walk becaue there is no bus.

    3. Invest in an old car ($500) if you do not want to be inconvenienced! No coe & erp BS.

    4. exactly, you have a choice..

  16. this argument is senseless.... if that's really the case Singapore drivers are underpaid, no one would be a bus driver... have u even compare the incentives? the coverage?? insurance?? offs? leaves?? holidays?? all these have to be factor in i guys u r just a bored guy doing some research, get on with life....

  17. The question here is whether we are willing to put the lives of commuters as well as pedestrians in the charge of drivers who are paid $1200.

    For such miserable pay, the driver might have to work 2 jobs, not get enough sleep, and cause accidents.

    This is the case with those random horrific bus accidents where drivers mow down pedestrians. The worst thing about that is that it can happen anywhere anytime.

    The public should be concerned that the collective bus driver force be well-paid and well-rested to perform a safe public service.

  18. In Aust, higher tax, min wage, higher pay for bus drivers.

    In S'pore, "lower tax", no min wage, lower pay for bus drivers. Why get drivers from PRC? Cheaper, faster, betterer?? Can't believe that bus driving is a dirty job that most local S'poreans shunned.

  19. Allow me to add my 2 cents worth as a British citizen comparing the situation from the UK.

    Whilst public transport workers are paid more in the UK, are you prepared to pay the price that comes with it?

    There are some incredibly strong unions who will cripple the nation's transport network every time they do not get the pay rise they want and they will strike and strike until the government caves in and gives them the pay rise they demand. It is pretty dire how the unions are the ones running the show and the government don't have enough control over the unions. Who are the losers in this case?

    The ordinary public, ordinary, honest, hardworking people who work hard and pay their taxes. Brits pay a lot more tax in order to allow these public transport workers to get their very generous pay rises.

    Do I hate the situation? Of course I do. It's bullshit. Workers should get a pay rise if they hit their performance targets, if the trains don't run on time (which they never do in the UK), then they have no excuse to ask for a pay rise and they should be punished with a pay cut instead. But oh no, no matter how awful their performances are, the unions still demand pay rises every year. There's something desperately wrong with it and by that token, I admire the way things are run in Singapore where the government is in control.

    Don't get me wrong, I am no way a fan of the PAP but credit where credit is due when it comes to the issue of unions in Singapore - well done to the PAP for not allowing them to grow into this uncontrollable monster which we see in Europe.

    So - don't think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, we just have different kinds of problems here. Our public transport network is inferior to Singapore's because we don't have the PAP here running the show and stamping out the evil unions.

    1. Oh and when the government doesn't give them the pay rise they demand, they then say, "fine we'll increase the fares and we'll get the commuters to pay for our pay rise".

      Either way, the end-user, the poor little old lady who is dependent on the bus to go to work, is the person who is punished at the end of day and exploited by these very greedy public transport unions. So you need to think twice before you start going on and on about paying bus drivers more - maybe a reasonable pay rise is in order in the case of Singapore, sure - but anything like that has to be controlled strictly by the government and not by these greedy, evil unions who want more and more pay no matter how awful the bus and train services are.

    2. Hello, you remind me of my MP leh. Though you mentioned you are not MIW fan. That thick skinned one lor. He niam a whole lot on how bad UK public transport is when we raised transport issues to him at a residents' forum.

      Ok, if you guys wanna insist right, London tube sucks. After >100 years in operation. Happy?

      I was there for work for a month and it didn't give me any problem even though there were tonnes of scheduled maintenances on the weekends when I was there. Can take bus mar, the red and nice London buses. Or walk lor, can keep fit mar. Ok lar, I heng, no strike in that 1 month.

      Eh, but huh, the world is bigger than London, bigger than UK, bigger than Europe, bigger than your talents even. How come you and my MP same same one huh? Both box up your minds like that huh?

      If the world is as simple as an "if-else-then", we might as well have robots to take over the jobs of these politicians. Maybe cheaper and more productive leh.

  20. Of course we all agreed about 'evil unions!' No doubt abt it. But how much do you know about local unions. They are worst than the management! Look at the union chief's pathetic response to eminent professor Lim's and professor Tommy Koh's calls for higher wage and min wage. Look these intellectuals are not nobody's like you and me! What happens to the union? Here we are talking abt the drivers getting a bad deal and grossly underpaid even though the PTOs are making obscene profits and you are harping on 'evil unions!' do u know that our local unions can't even fight for a better welfare let alone huge pay rises! For eg we have been telling then that 45 mins meal is NOT enug cuz we need to walk to the coffee shop to queue for our food. It's very rushing. Also 'meal break' is not paid, not included in the nett working hrs of 8.15 hrs per day! Even if they give us 2 hrs meal break it is not paid and not company time yet the union can't do it. So what sort of union we talking about. Yes it's true it's 'evil union' if u look at another angle! At my a gle where I'm part of it! U from the outside - what u know?
    Like I say a little knowledge is dangerous. I'm forced to respond to your unwarranted outburst!

    1. I didn't say anything about the local unions in Singapore, I realize that neither the UK (or France, Spain for that matter)nor Singapore have an ideal situation. In Singapore, there are all the problems that you've talked about above - in the UK, they keep getting wage increases regardless of how badly or well they perform.

      I am cautioning our Singaporean friends that the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence and that whilst the Singaporean situation is not perfect, you don't want to sacrifice what you have achieved by making the same mistakes as they have done in Europe.

    2. No union is the worst, workers such as bus drivers have to fend for themselves.
      S'pore is not even there yet to have a real union let alone a powerful or evil one.
      It is similar to social welfare is a dirty word in S'pore, whoever wants to make it looks or sounds dirty.
      Forget about the union in S'pore, just pay local bus drivers a min wage and stop hiring bus drivers from PRC.

  21. The article is way to narrow minded why are we compareing drivers alone and not the company as a whole, question oil to pump the bus compare that and see if the company can pay your driver that much. Try compareing everthing oil, taxs, COE, eletricity, mantain, and many more.

    1. You seem to imply that our transportation companies are having a hard time with operating expenses and are losing money in the process. So hard up until they have to pay their drivers $1,200 a month.

      Look at the balance sheet of these companies and reconsider your comment, which seem more narrow minded than any one of those above.

  22. The most important fact about your comparison here is missing. Of all countries mentioned, we are the smallest, the least likely to be willing to walk further and yet the most reliant on transportation.we r brought up in a cultural system that does not aspire to work as bus drivers probably even if they are paid as well as politicians.

    1. "...even if they are paid as well as politicians."

      Respect your opinion here but really,
      Wow, I'm not sure of that brother.

  23. "I can get beef at $8/kg, car coolant at $1/L, salmon at $13/kg, avocado for $0.20 per fruit"

    Not related to this topic, but author can you tell me where you bought them from? I paid 3 avocado for $5/-, Salmon around $20/kg which I though is cheap liao?

    1. If you're in Perth, I'll bring you there. It depends on the season. If you want cheap avocados for eg, the season is over. Just as grapes were 2 months ago, cheapest. Salmon for 20/kg IS cheap, if you are buying fillet. My price is for whole fish.

    2. Yeah, I am in Perth and thought the Subiaco market sells the cheapest fruits & vegetables; whilst the Northbridge have got the cheapest beef/poultry (fresh) and seafood. Apparently you have got better price in Gosells?

  24. Ex Singaporean Commenters who had chosen to be citizens of other nations must have preferred them over Sin. Had they being happy here, me doubts they will leave their families and friends here, unless they value the latters less.
    So, me thinks, in all fairness, we should conclude that they maybe people who love just the hairdo, liked the local transport system here, of another person but, is never attracted or en-armored to her/him. Hence, their comments are oni a small part of the overall(whole) of the subject. It is partial by definition as they are mostly not working in THE INDUSTRY.


    1. Thanks for visiting Patriot. I've heard a lot about you.

    2. Hello Patriot, I have been living away from Singapore for closed to 5 yr now. Been travelled around, not only in Australia, and often I felt blessed to be able to see the world as someone born in Singapore.

      It takes great courage to adapt and accept other country's "hairdo & etc etc", and it never easy. I felt proud to have such courage to live away on my own, and choice that I could be in Singapore or any part of the world, standing tall and independently.

      I wonder how many country have you seen in your living years and how much do you appreciate our planet?

      I have to say that I do not agree with the Big Mac comparison here, however your "in all fairness conclusion" simply reflect the sharrowness of certain Singaporean and thinking that Singapore is Nr 1.

    3. Hi Patriot,
      You may have brought up one of the many, maybe even one of the most likely reasons why Singaporeans leave Sg but claiming that ex-singaporeans who emigrated are unhappy in, and value Singapore less, (to be polite) is quite a self-limiting view.
      Migratory patterns are dependent on many different push and pull factors. It might be possible that your thoughts, in all your fairness, may not have adequately considered all possibilities.
      Still, this is a detraction from the topic of the post, which is the salary of transport workers and hopefully the renumeration of lower-income earners.
      - ivan (recent Melburnian)

  25. Dear asingaporeanson;

    hope that You have heard the positive side
    of me.
    Me does kpkb over the Blogoland frequently
    and thus got to know some liked-minded folks.

    Must say that me appreciates You Folks(Bloggers)
    much for airing our grouses and sometimes even
    great distaste for the deeds of our policy makers.

    You are doing a great job!


    1. I'm not anti Singapore or anti-establishment though I was accused of it when I perform the so call airing of grouses. I'm not complaining. I'm not whining. I know what I want and I don't expect the government or my country to lay it out for me. I think we have to make some effort to improve our own lives. No one else is responsible for our well-being. That's what I did, taking actions for my own life. What I did instead was simply pointed out some obvious things that Singaporeans know well enough, deep down, but prefers to keep them buried.

      I don't have any agenda. Neither am I representing any one or opposition parties. In fact, every single of my rant urge a better life for Singaporeans. Whether my posts are accurate or not, my assumptions are fair or not, my intentions should not be doubted - that I care about Singapore and my people.

  26. Dear Singaporean Son,

    Thank you for your inspiring blog which is great for overseas Singaporeans like me to read and find some strength from.

    Like you, I have migrated overseas to HK to find a new lease of life at the tender age of 28. Perhaps I am not struggling so much materially like you may be, but having read your blog, I really contemplate the meaning of material happiness and how the Singaporean culture has influenced me to think.

    I was sent here by the Bank that I work for, and though you might think that working in a big bank at such a young age is a great thing, I can assure you that it is not. The hours are bad and I have hardly time to spend the money that I make. I am even considering becoming a tradesman in Australia considering that I do have a PR which I haven't used.

    What do you think?

  27. If I cannot get an engineer job in Aust as a skilled migrant, I will apply for bus driver job.

    In fact I have just applied one which provides training to be a bus driver, after tax about SGD5.2k per mth.

    new Aust PR

    1. Thanks for the tips. They are very useful and handy