SINGAPORE - Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan raised the possibility of higher public transport fares in his Committee of Supply speech on Wednesday (March 8).
Mr Khaw said over the next five years, the Government expects to subsidise public bus services by almost $4 billion. While under the new Bus Contracting Model, fare revenue goes to the Government, it is not sufficient to cover operating costs, explained Mr Khaw.
The Government, he said, also expects to spend another $4 billion or so on replacing ageing rail assets in the same timeframe.
"And all this is on top of about $20 billion we will be spending to build new public transport infrastructure," he added.
"We must ensure that the fiscal burden does not become too excessive for taxpayers... Remember that commuters are taxpayers too... Over the years, as fares have not kept up with rising costs, taxpayers have to subsidise more and more of the operating costs, especially as we have been raising service standards significantly," he said.
The minister said the Public Transport Council will review the fare formula after this year's fare adjustment exercise.
"They will consult widely. I am confident that they will decide wisely," he said, emphasing that "many commuters have benefited" from the council's recent harmonisation of fares between aboveground and underground MRT lines.
"They have seen their fares reduced," he said. "But remember, the PTC cannot always bring good news, sometimes they have to adjust fares upwards. If they do, I hope commuters will be understanding."