LTA Trying To Scam Singaporeans’ Money?

The Park-a-Lot Lite app, developed by local developer NiiDees, has removed its live parking data feature which displayed which carparks had vacant lots, following a notice from the LTA.

via zdnet asia

Park-a-Lot Lite is an iPhone app that was previously able to pull data from the LTA’s website, which then showed Singaporean drivers, through a convenient interface, what parking garages around the city-state had open spots.

However, LTA ordered the developer to disable that function of the app, which more or less killed the app’s usefulness.  It was one of the most popular iPhone apps in Singapore prior to this move.

So, what’s LTA’s reasoning?  Money.  They want more of it.

That said, the LTA is open to licensing the data out, the spokesperson added.

via zdnet asia

LTA says that this data is collected from garage operators to be displayed only on the LTA website. I assume that means they have a contract set up with these garage operators, paying them citizens’ tax money to have this information made available for display on their government website, which is itself also funded by citizens’ tax money.

Now, this offer to license out the data is where I think LTA is trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes in an effort to create a double-taxation. You see, citizens are already paying for this data to be made available to them via the website.

When you think about it that way, you could in fact say that LTA has failed the public and is misusing tax money.  I looked over the LTA and OneMotoring sites briefly and didn’t see any prominent links to this service, and until now I didn’t even realize it was available.  I wonder how many other people in Singapore were in a similar situation?  Doesn’t that mean the revenue that was being used to license that data was being misused by LTA?  Doesn’t that mean they failed to make the data properly available to the public when the public was paying for it?  This is a useful service that was being paid for and that the public obviously wanted easy access to, yet they were denied.  And now they’ve been denied again.

What Park-a-Lot Lite did was package that information into a convenient, easy to use interface that allowed citizens to use data that they were already paying for with their tax money.  There’s really no difference between an iPhone app accessing the data on LTA’s site, and a web browser accessing the data on LTA’s site.  The same amount of data is transferred.  Less actually, since only the data is requested, which puts less strain (not that there was much strain before) on LTA’s web host and any bandwidth limitations it might have.  One could argue that the data was only licensed to be shown on LTA’s website, and I would argue that the App isn’t a website and is merely acting as a window to LTA’s site.  Additionally, I would argue that with the rapidly changing tech scene in Singapore, and with more and more people going mobile, LTA should have taken the initiative to amend their contract to specifically allow for mobile access to the data from their site.

Instead, what’s going on here is that LTA has recognized an opportunity to try to shaft people out of more of their hard earned money by making them pay for something they’ve already paid for and is moving quickly to capitalize on it.

Shameful, and it should be illegal.

Two Tiered Bicycle Stands

Everyone knows that in Asia, bicycles are used quite frequently as a means of transportation.  It’s even used in jokes occasionally, but it’s true.  People do use bikes quite a bit, for quite a few reasons, here in Singapore at least.  It’s cheaper, as opposed to buying, fueling, and maintaining a car.  It’s also smaller and easier to park or store.  In fact, there are some foldable bikes here that you can take on the buses with you.  That could be perfect for a family outing to a nice park that you want to bike through, but that’s too far away to bike to.  Plus, it’s a great way to get where you want to go and get some exercise at the same time.

The problem with having so many bike riders is that there’s rarely enough room to accommodate all of the parked bicycles, especially in major traffic hubs or around the malls.  For example, if you go to the Tampines MRT area, you’ll see bicycles jammed in at the bike racks, but you’ll also see bicycles chained to poles, fences, gates, or basically anything that’s stuck to the ground.  In some extreme cases you’ll find bicycles that aren’t chained to anything at all, but just have a chain through the wheel spokes instead, because there’s just no space available.

It all seemed crazy and amusing to me and I never really gave it any thought.  Apparently, someone did though.  At the Pasir Ris MRT station there are also bike racks, but the bike racks there are two tiered.  I guess they figured that if there wasn’t enough horizontal space to accommodate all of the bicycles, they could go vertical with them.  It looked like it worked well too.  There was more space to park bikes, and as a result, the area looked a lot nicer and neater, which seems to be something Singapore as a whole looks highly upon.

This isn’t the only measure I’ve seen to accommodate the bicycle riders in Singapore, but it’s definitely the neatest.  There are also bicycle only lanes that run parallel to sidewalks on most major roads, as well as Park Connectors that run between major parks in different regional areas.  Also, there is a wide path that follows the MRT tracks that seems to get used pretty heavily by cyclists.  I think I noticed a bicycle lane there as well.