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Poly student cheers cheaper concession pass

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Nov 7, 2013

TEENAGER Carissa Chua spends about $150 each month taking the bus and train daily.

While she can opt to buy the monthly bus and train concession pass for tertiary students at $97, the Ngee Ann Polytechnic student does not.

"It is better if I buy the concession, but I can't fork out the lump sum. I'd rather top up my ez-link card every week than be almost $100 poorer immediately," said the 17-year-old international business diploma student.

She earns her own monthly pocket money - about $400 - by working part- time at ice-cream parlour Baskin-Robbins.

The only child of a housewife and a dispatch rider added that $97 is "really very expensive", compared with what junior college students pay, especially for those like her from less well-to-do backgrounds.

So it was good news to Carissa that the Fare Review Mechanism Committee has made a recommendation to the Ministry of Transport to sub-divide the tertiary monthly concession pass, so that polytechnic students pay less - closer to what is paid by JC and secondary school students.

Currently, those students pay $27.50 for bus concession, $25 for train concession, and $52.50 for a hybrid of both.

Polytechnic and university students pay $52 for the bus concession, $45 for the train concession, and $97 for the hybrid pass.

Carissa said she would buy a pass if she did not have to fork out such a large lump sum.

It is expected that polytechnic students will still pay more than JC and secondary students, if the recommendation is accepted.

Fellow Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Athanasius Koh said it was not realistic to expect the polytechnic concession rates to be the same as those for JC students. "But cheaper is always better than nothing," said the 18-year-old, who is studying for a mass communications diploma.

Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah, who has previously urged the Government to look into lowering concession prices for polytechnic students, said the review committee's proposal is "a step in the right direction".

"But I hope more can be done, such as making polytechnic students pay the same amount as those in junior colleges," she said.

Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Liang Eng Hwa echoed her sentiments, saying that he hopes the monthly concession scheme can be simplified "by putting polytechnic and junior college students in the same category".

leepearl@sph.com.sg

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Nov 7, 2013

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