NCMP Dennis Tan calls for service quality to be part of public transport fare formula

Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan also called for transport operators to put in a larger share of their profits into various public transport funds.
Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan also called for transport operators to put in a larger share of their profits into various public transport funds.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Service quality should be included in the public transport fare formula to improve commuters' experience, said Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan on Tuesday (Jan 15).

This could be measured by an independent body like the Institute of Service Excellence, said the Workers' Party MP, who gave this suggestion and four others in an adjournment motion on putting commuters first in public transport.

Such independently-derived scores can be directly factored into the fare formula, with positive commuter experiences rewarded and stagnant or negative commuter experience taken as a factor against fare hikes, he said.

He noted that service quality should not be the only or predominant factor in determining fares.

Another suggestion was to include profits made by transport operators as another factor in the fare formula. Mr Tan pointed to MTR Corp, which he said has a "productivity" factor that is derived by dividing revenue from its Hong Kong transport operations by expenses.

"Hong Kong's experience can offer insights into how Singapore can go about tweaking our Fare Regulation Framework to account for newly proposed factors," he said.

He also called for transport operators to put in a larger share of their profits into various public transport funds, and for the Government to find ways to give commuters timely and accurate information about matters like train breakdowns.

Welcoming plans to renew the North East Line starting this year, Mr Tan urged the Government to commit to major renewals of rail assets at every 15-year milestone.

There is still work to do in improving the public transport system, he said: "We should refrain from patting ourselves on the back on our current progress."

Responding, Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said the suggestions are worth exploring, without delving into each proposal.

He then set out what the Government is doing in terms of regulating the transport operators, improving reliability and service quality, making the transport system more accessible and keeping it affordable.

It is reasonable to consider new mechanisms to ensure Singapore's public transport system continues to move in the right direction, Dr Janil said.

"But if we're already doing some of these things or many of these things, we should refine them, get them right, tweak them, make them better. But I think we have to start on the premise that things are improving, things are going well, the mechanisms are working."