Bus, train fares to be lowered at end of year

The annual fare revision exercise is based on a formula that takes into account changes in inflation rate, wages and an energy index that charts oil and electricity costs.
The annual fare revision exercise is based on a formula that takes into account changes in inflation rate, wages and an energy index that charts oil and electricity costs. PHOTO: ST FILE

Commuters will see fares cut by up to 1.9%, thanks to sliding fuel costs: Lui Tuck Yew

Bus and train fares will be reduced by up to 1.9 per cent in December, as a result of falling fuel costs.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, announcing this yesterday, said the annual fare revision, which is usually carried out in April, will be brought forward to coincide with the opening of the second phase of the Downtown Line.

"I've asked the Public Transport Council (PTC) to initiate the process of kicking off the fare exercise for 2015... I encourage the PTC to pass on the 1.9 per cent reduction fully to commuters so they can enjoy the benefits of it," said Mr Lui at One-North MRT station after taking a ride on one of seven new Circle Line trains deployed since June.

He added that he would leave it to the PTC to work out the specific reductions but expects every commuter group to pay lower fares.

This is the first time fares have been reduced since 2010. Earlier this year, fares went up by 2.8 per cent, with most adult commuters paying four or five cents more per ride, despite the fare formula allowing for a reduction of 0.6 per cent. This was because the fare increase from last year was split over two years to cushion the impact for commuters.

Mr Lui had indicated in January that fares could be reduced "in the region of negative 1 per cent", due to the drop in energy prices last year. In the last year alone, oil prices have plunged about 60 per cent.

The annual fare revision exercise is based on a formula that takes into account changes in inflation rate, wages and an energy index that charts oil and electricity costs. The first two components are given a 40 per cent weighting each, while energy has a 20 per cent weighting.

The reduction in fares comes as public transport operators have been battling a series of breakdowns, with the most severe one happening just last month, when two MRT lines were shut down for more than two hours.

Associate Professor Terence Fan, a transport specialist from the Singapore Management University, said it was "fortunate" that the timing of the fare revision was brought forward.

"I think this is a nice gesture in view of the latest disruptions," said Prof Fan, but he added that commuters faced a "trade-off" if fare adjustments were brought forward or done more regularly.

"If you want the fare adjustment to be reviewed more regularly, then if oil prices go up - the fare prices will go up quickly too," he said.

Commuter Shirley Ng, who takes a bus to work, said that it was about time fares went down.

"This is almost unbelievable, they keep adjusting the fares, but it was always just going up," said the 51-year-old quality management executive.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2015, with the headline 'Bus, train fares to be lowered at end of year'. Print Edition | Subscribe