The latest revision to the public transport fare formula calls for deliberation because it brings into focus the strategic intent of containing the gulf between transport fares and operating costs as the network grows. The means identified is the concept of a Network Capacity Factor (NCF). Commuters would find it difficult to grasp this, compared to other factors like changes to manpower, maintenance and energy costs, which collectively form almost two-thirds of operating costs.
The new factor's rationale is to better reflect cost movements that are caused by changes in the public transport network capacity - for example, the running of more buses and trains over longer distances - and commuter usage, like more passengers taking more trips on buses or trains. "With the NCF, the widening gap between fares and costs due to capacity enhancements can be better contained going forward," said the Public Transport Council, an independent body that regulates public transport fares.