SINGAPORE - To reduce the red tape for low-income households hoping to spend less on public transport, the Government has decided to directly issue public transport vouchers to about 30,000 households, without the need for them to apply for the scheme.
The deadline for others who wish to apply for the $50 vouchers has also been extended from Oct 31 to Jan 31 next year, giving them more time to do the necessary.
A record 450,000 $50 vouchers are available in total, up from the 300,000 $30 vouchers given out previously.
This comes as the Public Transport Council (PTC) recommended on Friday (Sept 4) that bus and train fares will remain unchanged in the coming year, despite operators SMRT and SBS having applied for the maximum allowable fare hike of 4.4 per cent.
The Council said it prioritised the affordability of train and bus rides to commuters, but did not reduce fares, given the broader economic support already extended to the public in the four government Budgets and the continued concessionary schemes for vulnerable groups.
The public transport voucher scheme is one such recurring measure, available for households whose monthly income per person from all sources does not exceed $1,200. Money in the vouchers can be used to top up fare cards or buy monthly concession passes.
Those who are eligible for the vouchers can apply at their community centres or clubs (CCs). Those who need more vouchers or who marginally miss the income criterion can also go to their CCs and have their case assessed.
The People's Association and the Ministry of Transport, in a joint release on Friday, said the 30,000 low-income households that automatically qualify for the vouchers will receive a redemption letter in their post and get their vouchers as early as December.
These households are under the Ministry of Social and Family Development's ComCare Short-to-Medium-Term Assistance and Long-Term Assistance schemes, and will receive vouchers regardless of whether they have previously applied and received them.
Under the PTC's recommendations, concessions for senior citizens, students and other groups remain unchanged. Up to two million people, or one in two Singaporeans, today enjoy concessionary fares and will continue to do so until at least the next fare review.
Said PTC chairman Richard Magnus: "The council's mandate will not change. (It) will always be to ensure that fares remain affordable for Singaporeans. Most importantly, the council will continue to safeguard the interests of the more vulnerable groups, such as the lower income, senior citizens, and our students."