While it is understandable that public transport fares are adjusted to reflect inevitable changes in operating costs and ridership patterns, the wisdom of repeated tinkering and sweeping formula changes is debatable (Bus, train fare formula to be reviewed; any changes will be applied from 2023, Aug 16).
There is a real risk of frequent fare increases becoming a band-aid solution for structural deficiencies within public transport operators.
Companies have little incentive to improve, streamline or innovate if they can expect regular revenue hikes to cover their financial shortcomings.
This is especially given the nature of public transit in Singapore, where few routes run in direct competition.
Perhaps the Land Transport Authority could make fare adjustments conditional on public transport operators hitting stipulated targets for cost-per-passenger-kilometre, vehicle dispatch reliability, on-time performance and other key metrics.
After all, the soul of a public transport system lies in lean and efficient operations.
Paul Chan Poh Hoi