SingaporeScene

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."