Keep public transport affordable, urges Transport Minister ahead of fare review

Public transport operators may submit their applications for fare review to the council for consideration by Dec 19. The results of the applications will be announced in the first quarter of 2015. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Public transport operators may submit their applications for fare review to the council for consideration by Dec 19. The results of the applications will be announced in the first quarter of 2015. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Public transport must remain affordable to all Singaporeans, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said last night at the start of this year's fare review exercise.

Mr Lui wrote in a Facebook post that he hopes the Public Transport Council (PTC) will study whether it is possible to insulate vulnerable groups such as senior citizens from a fare increase - or at least mitigate the impact on them.

He also said the Land Transport Authority has been tasked with studying ongoing travel demand management efforts and encouraging more commuters to travel during off-peak hours.

To achieve the latter, he suggested: "Perhaps the Government can introduce off-peak monthly passes which should also help reduce the travel expenditure for this group of commuters."

Public transport operators may submit fare review applications to the council for consideration by Dec 19.

Results will be announced in the first quarter of next year.

A PTC spokesman said that evaluations will be guided by the fare review mechanism and fare adjustment formula recommended by the Fare Review Mechanism Committee, and accepted by the Government, in November last year.

These include lower fares for lower-wage workers and the disabled, concessions for polytechnic students, free travel for children below seven years old, and the introduction of an adult monthly travel pass which offers unlimited travel for $120.

However, last year's changes also increased fares by 6.6 per cent in two phases - 3.2 per cent from April this year, and 3.4 per cent next year. The forthcoming review could further revise next year's prices.

Mr Lui said the Ministry of Transport will study how concession schemes for lower-wage workers and the disabled can be enhanced. He also hopes the PTC will consider not raising the prices of travel passes.

The PTC said it will ensure a "good balance" between meeting the needs of the commuting public and keeping the public transport system financially sustainable. Its spokesman added: "The PTC will pay particular attention to fare affordability for the more vulnerable groups of commuters."