No public transport fare adjustments this year:  Lui Tuck Yew

No public transport fares can be expected this year. (Yahoo! file photo)

No public transport fare adjustments can be expected this year, said Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew.

Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, Lui announced that public transport operators are currently facing higher costs -- especially on their bus operations -- and hence, the government should not be in a rush to review this year's fare adjustments.

Lui added that the current fare formula is due for review this year and that any fare adjustments that were not made this year will be taken into consideration into next year's fare formula.

With no changes to fare adjustments, the disabled and polytechnic students will not get to enjoy any fare concessions.

Although Lui expressed sympathy for these two groups of citizens, he maintained that "not all of these requests [to implement fare concessions] can be addressed immediately or entirely within a single fare revision exercise".

In addition, Lui also asked for patience from the Members of Parliament who had advocated fare concessions for polytechnic students, before adding that the Public Transport Council (PTC), which is the body that regulates fares, is "acutely aware" of the requests for concession and will co-operate with transport operators to consider these requests.

Low-income earners at losing end

Singaporeans expressed concern with Lui's announcement, with many anticipating fare adjustments in next year's formula.

Others also noted that the static fares will no doubt affect low-income families who are already struggling to make ends meet.

Said Facebook user Ong Yongjie, who responded to Yahoo! Singapore's wall post, "Transport minister Lui Tuck Yew should get our approval first… Did he even think about those low-income families [who have to take] transport to work or school?"

Another user, Celia Lim echoed Ong. She said: "Does the transport minister know that there are many Singaporeans who are forced to reduce their weekly visit of their old parents to once a month, or two months or even quarterly [because of unyielding transport fares]?"

"Mr Lui, you do not understand what it means to be an average income earner, let alone a poor person, in today's Singapore. You and your colleagues have been clouded by those digitised dreams of your own version of world class public transport system!" Lim continued.

However others like Facebook user Jon Ng noted that instead of complaining that transport operators could use the proposed S$1.1 billion -- which was announced in this year's Budget to improve bus service levels --  to reduce transport fares, Singaporeans should instead take a more proactive approach.

"With new trains, there will be increased operation expenses. The $1.1 billion doesn't include these costs — [but] just the purchase of hardware. For those who harp on the amount… nothing would change unless you think, suggest and really submit a proposal [to the government] instead."

  • Najib to make a three-day visit to Japan

    TOKYO: Japan’s interest to participate in the high speed rail (HSR) project between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and the second phase of the Look East Policy is expected to be high on the agenda when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak begins his three-day official visit to Japan Sunday. Malaysian Ambassador to Japan, Datuk Ahmad Izlan Idris said Najib will gain first hand experience of the Shinkansen high speed train when he takes a 96-minute jouney to Sendai which is located 325km from here on Tuesday. “I think this (Shinkansen) will be brought up by the Japanese Prime Minister during the bilateral talk on Monday. And they have planned a briefing for the Prime Minister as well,” he told Malaysian media covering the visit here today. Prior to embarking on the trip, Najib will be given a briefing by officials of the Japan Railway on Shinkansen and development around Tokyo station, as well a tour of the train cockpit. Early this month, Najib and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong reaffirmed that both countries were fully committed to the success of the high speed rail (HSR) project linking the republic and Kuala Lumpur, that is expected to reduce the travel time to just 90 minutes compared to more than three hours by road now. The Shinkansen line spans 2,400 kilometres and runs across Japan. Besides Japan, other countries like China, South Korea, Spain, France and Germany are reportedly keen to participate in the project. Ahmad Izlan said that this would be Najib’s second official visit to the country where he will be accompanied by Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and a delegation that includes Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Idris Jala. According to him, among the agenda that are top on Malaysia’s side are the second phase of the Look East Policy, as well as looking for potential investment in biotech and green technology. “The second phase of LEP started three years ago and both sides are working on a guideline now. Since its implementation more than 30 years ago, more than 15,000 people have benefited from it and contributed to nation building,” he said. At the moment, there are about 5,500 Malaysians residing in Japan, including 2,250 students. During his visit, Najib, who is expected to arrive at 8am Sunday in Tokyo, would attend a cocktail reception with about 250 Malaysian students and community on Sunday. Ahmad Izlan said the official visit, at the invitation of Abe, was supposed to be held last December but was postponed due to the general election in Japan and the massive flood in Malaysia’s east coast states. During the visit here, Najib will have a tight schedule, with the highlight being an audience with Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace on Monday. In the afternoon, Najib will attend a round table meeting with 34 captains of industries, before holding a bilateral meeting with his counterpart Shinzo Abe. Ahmad Izlan said both leaders are expected to discuss various issues and mutual cooperation to further strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries which established diplomatic ties in 1957. “Besides trade and economy issues, both leaders are expected to touch on the South China Sea, as well as Malaysia’s current chairmanship of ASEAN and how Japan can assist in achieving the Asean Economic Community (AEC). On Tuesday, Najib will deliver a keynote address at the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) Roundtable before departing to Sendai to end his visit with a dialogue session with students at the Tohoku university. During the visit, Rosmah will also have a separate programme where she is expected to visit the Institute for Radiological Sciences in Chiba, and the Hiyoriyama Memorial Monument.– BERNAMA

  • YouTube FanFest SG: Fangirl (And Fanboy) Game Strong
    YouTube FanFest SG: Fangirl (And Fanboy) Game Strong

    This might just be the coolest form of Internet addiction therapy.The inaugural YouTube FanFest is back in their home country Singapore for its third year since 2013, having started in Singapore and since then expanding to Japan, India, Manila, Thailand, Australia and even Canada.Photo: YouTubeThis year’s show features a dynamic mix of over 30 widely popular music, comedy, and fashion content creators — the largest FanFest crew to date.So what is YouTube FanFest all about? Simply put, it’s just an excuse for YouTube stars to meet their fans via an official event. ...

  • Australia's gift to Singapore: Scary ugly or scary cool?
    Australia's gift to Singapore: Scary ugly or scary cool?

    As you may have heard by now, Australia has announced on Wednesday its elaborate list of gifts to Singapore as we celebrate our 50th anniversary this year.