Report by fare review committee to be delayed by a few months

The Fare Review Mechanism Committee (FRMC) will take another few more months gathering quantitative feedback before submitting its findings to the Government. It was supposed to do so by the end of the month.

The committee will spend the additional months following up on issues brought up during two focus group sessions held earlier this year. These sessions had involved voluntary welfare organisations for the disabled, grassroots leaders and activists, tertiary students, union leaders and public transport operators.

Committee chairman Richard Magnus, a former senior district judge, wrote in a blogpost on Wednesday that there are "difficult trade-offs to be made on a number of key issues" and the quantitative feedback would ensure that the final report is "unbiased and objective".

"For instance, we know that giving more concessions would surely be welcomed, but how do we prioritise the granting of more concessions that would address the competing interests of the different commuter groups? How should concessions be funded in a sustainable manner?" he wrote. The committee was tasked last June with re-examining how bus and train fares are set. In February, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew expanded the scope of the review and asked the committee to look into fare concessions and affordability.

Mr Lui said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that he fully supports Mr Magnus' request for more time to finalise the report. "Certainly, from what he has updated me thus far on his Committee's views and thinking on fares and concessions, I have every expectation that it will be a thorough and thoughtful report," he added.