PARLIAMENT

NCMP Dennis Tan proposes additional factors to fare formula

Mr Dennis Tan called for service quality and profits made by transport operators to be included as factors in the public transport fare formula. He also urged the Government to commit to major renewals of rail assets at every 15-year milestone.
Mr Dennis Tan called for service quality and profits made by transport operators to be included as factors in the public transport fare formula. He also urged the Government to commit to major renewals of rail assets at every 15-year milestone.ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

Service quality should be included in the public transport fare formula to improve commuters' experience, said Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan yesterday.

This could be measured by an independent body like the Institute of Service Excellence, said the Workers' Party NCMP, 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 a 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 such as 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, adding: "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 were 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."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2019, with the headline 'NCMP Dennis Tan proposes additional factors to fare formula'. Print Edition | Subscribe