SingaporeScene

Low-income families to get help with transport fares

Needy families will be getting financial help with the recent fare hikes. (Yahoo! file photo)Needy families will be getting financial help with the recent fare hikes. (Yahoo! file photo)

Low-income families will be getting $4 million in aid from the government and public transport operators in Singapore to deal with an upcoming fare hike.

The Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports and the People's Association announced that 200,000 vouchers -- worth $20 each -- will be available to needy families to cope with the fare increase that will be taking place from 8 October.

The Public Transport Council (PTC) announced on Friday that adult card fares for buses and trains will increase by 2 cents per journey, while senior citizen concessionary fares will increase by 1 cent per journey.

Public transport operators SMRT and SBS had initially submitted their applications to increase the total bus and rail fares collected by up to 2.8 percent, but the PTC decided that the overall net fare adjustment will increase by 1 percent instead.

"We have tried to keep the fare adjustment small for commuters but we know that any fare adjustment, no matter how small, would still be felt by commuters, especially those from needy families," said PTC Chairman Gerard Ee.

The government will use $3.45 million from the Public Transport Fund, which was set up in 2001 to provide help to lower-income families cope with rising transport prices, while SMRT and SBS will top up the remaining amount to make it a total of S$4 million worth of vouchers.

Each voucher can be used to purchase or top up the smartcards or to buy monthly concession passes.

Families can apply for the vouchers through the Citizens' Consultative Committees (CCCs), which is in charge of processing the applications and distributing the vouchers.

Those in need of extra help may apply through the CCC ComCare Fund, which was set up in 2005 to give urgent relief to needy Singaporeans.

The vouchers will reach the CCCs by mid-October.

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