Singapore bus and train fares to go up 6¢ from December 29

From December 29, adults taking train and buses will have to pay 6 cents more for card fares, and single trips on both modes of transport will cost 10 cents more. — TODAY pic
From December 29, adults taking train and buses will have to pay 6 cents more for card fares, and single trips on both modes of transport will cost 10 cents more. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, Oct 31 — From December 29, adults taking buses and MRT trains will have to pay 6 cents (RM0.18 sen) more for card fares, while single-trip train fare and adult cash bus fare will rise by 10 cents.

Students and senior citizens will pay up to 1 cent more in card fares.

The Public Transport Council (PTC) announced this yesterday at the close of a first fare review using a new formula that factors in changes to operating costs.

It said that these fare changes amounted to an overall 4.3 per cent hike, which is the maximum allowable amount of increase going by the new formula.

The biggest contributing factor to the hike — other than a sharp 26.2 per cent rebound in energy prices — is the new “network capacity factor”, which tracks how much bus and rail capacity has changed in relation to real usage.

It indicated that ridership had not kept up with capacity growth, and this accounted for 3 per cent of the 4.3 per cent cap in fare increase.

There will be no changes to the cash fares for students and senior citizens, or prices of monthly concession passes.

The fare reduction measure introduced last December as part of the 2017 review exercise remains.

This is the 50-cent saving for commuters who pay by cards and travel during the morning pre-peak hours by tapping in before 7.45am at any train station.

The Ministry of Transport has accepted the PTC’s recommendations.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that raising fares is an “unavoidable decision” even if it is not welcomed by commuters.

Public transport operators rely on fare adjustments to keep pace with operating cost, he said.

Khaw noted that commuters earned 10 per cent more in wages in the past three years, yet fares have gone down by 8.3 per cent in three consecutive fare review exercises before this year’s exercise.

Separately, the PTC said in a press release that this round of fare hikes is “necessary in a rising cost environment”, especially since public transport operators SMRT Rail and SBS Transit are facing “significant operating losses”.

“These cost pressures have also been faced by other cities which have had to raise fares to keep pace with the operating cost increases,” the council added.

With the hike, SMRT Rail will stand to take in S$24.1 million more for its higher repair and maintenance costs and the increase in manpower to run expanded operations and improve its rail network performance.

SBS Transit is expecting to earn S$10.9 million more, which will go into padding up its Downtown Line operations, increase in manpower and salary adjustments for workers.

The hike will also bring in S$43.2 million more in revenue to support public bus operations, which is facing an operation deficit to the tune of some S$1 billion a year, a sum to be borne by the Government through subsidies, PTC chairman Richard Magnus said.

Asked at a press conference yesterday why the full 4.3 per cent fare hike is implemented, Magnus said that it is to “narrow the gap as far as possible” between rising infrastructure costs and what commuters are paying.

“Even with the 4.3 per cent increase, the gap continues to be there,” he added, noting that the revenue only “marginally” padded up and “contained” the rising public transport costs. “(Our approach is to) balance the economic aspects and social costs.”

Fare reductions unlikely in coming years 

Analysing from energy prices, wage, and inflation trends, Mr Magnus said that fare reductions are “unlikely” in the next fare review exercise, and assessed that there is little need to carry over a certain percentage of the amount of increase into the next year.

The next fare review won’t be “a negative” where there is a reduction in fares, but a question of how much higher it might go, he said.

If the PTC were to bring over a 2 per cent increase, then next year’s increase will be higher. “It is better to spread out the fare increase over a period of time rather than a steep jump next year.”

Putting it in a larger context, Magnus said that public transport fares had stayed affordable “for a good 10 years”, what with the percentage of household income spent on public transport having gone down since 2007.

PTC’s calculations showed that the average commuter spent 1.9 per cent of his income on public transport last year as compared to 2.9 per cent in 2007, while a commuter from the lower-income group spent 2.7 per cent last year versus 4.1 per cent in 2007, he added. — TODAY