WP welcomes public transport concession schemes, but asks for delay in fare hikes

The Workers' Party (WP) welcomed the new transport concession schemes announced by the Government on Thursday, but called for fare hikes to be delayed till all of these schemes are rolled out. -- ST FILE PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
The Workers' Party (WP) welcomed the new transport concession schemes announced by the Government on Thursday, but called for fare hikes to be delayed till all of these schemes are rolled out. -- ST FILE PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

The Workers' Party (WP) welcomed the new transport concession schemes announced by the Government on Thursday, but called for fare hikes to be delayed till all of these schemes are rolled out.

In a statement on Friday, the party said those with disabilities, senior citizens, low-wage workers, students and full-time national servicemen, who will benefit from a slew of concessions announced, would "finally enjoy some overdue relief for their travel needs, for which the public and the WP have lobbied for years".

But the party also voiced disappointment over the fare increases being rolled out three months before the implementation of concession schemes for low-wage workers and those with disabilities.

These schemes will kick in on July 6 because of the time needed to process applications. The fare hike and all other concessions will start on April 6.

"We call for the fare hike to be delayed until the new concession schemes are implemented," the statement, signed off by executive council member Dennis Tan, said.

The opposition party also raised concerns that general commuters may still have to face a "very large overall fare increase" in the next two years. It added that the fare increase comes amid frequent train breakdowns.

"With an initial increase of 3.2 per cent in 2014 and an increase of 3.4 per cent rolled over to the fare review exercise next year, this could mean a heftier increase in 2015," it said.

"The fare hike has also come despite train breakdowns having become a regular affair, further compounding the frustrations of commuters, who are frequently affected by such service quality and reliability lapses."

Public transport should be provided as a public good and not for profit, the WP said.

"Service quality, reliability and fare affordability should come before the need to ensure the profitability of public transport operators."

On Thursday, the Government announced that about a million commuters will pay less for travel, even as bus and train fares increase when the biggest price adjustment in 15 years kicks in.

It will fork out $50 million in tax revenue to help defray the cost for two groups: low-wage workers earning up to $1,900 a month, and people with permanent disabilities.

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