Bus, train card fares for adults to increase by 6 cents: Public Transport Council

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
From left: Public Transport Council chief executive Tan Kim Hong, PTC chair Richard Magnus and PTC member Vincent Chua, at Tuesday’s (30 October) press conference. (PHOTO: Nicholas Yong / Yahoo News Singapore)

Card fares for adults travelling on buses and trains will go up by 6 cents from 29 December, said the Public Transport Council (PTC) on Tuesday (30 October).

Single-trip tickets for train and adult cash fares will also increase by 10 cents, while student and senior citizen card fare increases will be capped at 1 cent.

Meanwhile, bus cash fares for students and senior citizens will remain unchanged as will the prices of monthly concession passes and adult monthly travel passes.

These were among the changes announced during a PTC press conference held at the SLF Building, during which the council also shared that the overall cap in fare increases would be set at 4.3 per cent.

$78.2 million increase in annual fare revenue

The adjustments come following the conclusion of the 2018 Fare Review Exercise (FRE) that began in September. At the time, the PTC forecasted a 4.3 per cent cap in fare increases – which comes following three consecutive years of fare reductions totalling 8.3 per cent.

According to the PTC, the fare adjustment will translate into an increase of $78.2 million a year in fare revenue. Broken down, this would mean a $10.9 million rise in SBS Transit Rail revenue, $24.1 million increase in SMRT Rail earnings and a $43.2 million boost in bus fare revenues.

The council said its decision to raise fares was largely driven by a 26.2 per cent rebound in energy prices, along with rises in the Wage and Core Consumer Price indices. Another contributing factor was also the costs incurred in improving transport connectivity and productivity.

In its report, the PTC also shared that SMRT and SBS Transit had both incurred significant operating losses, which is why both rail operators applied for a fare adjustment of 4.3 per cent.

Other changes

Among the other changes announced was a 1-cent cap in fare increases for government-funded concession schemes for lower-wage workers and persons with disabilities.

New transfer rules, which also kick in on 29 December, will see the elimination of additional boarding charges for multiple rail rides in a single journey. This will be to the benefit of at least 6,000 daily journeys, said the PTC.

Meanwhile, fare discounts of up to 50 cent for weekday rail travel before 7.45am will remain. The PTC said that more than 335,000 commuters have benefited daily from this morning pre-peak travel discounts, enabling them to save around $19 million in the first half of this year.

Assistance for needy commuters

While the rise in bus fare revenues will be put towards reducing bus operating subsidies, both rail operators will contribute a total of $1.75 million towards the Public Transport Fund.

The PTC noted that the government will be drawing $9 million from this fund to make 300,000 public transport vouchers – worth $30 each – available to low-income households. This will be the largest public transport voucher exercise to date, said the council.

Public transport ‘affordable’, ‘efficient’

According to findings for the PTC’s surveys of over 10,400 commuters, conducted from July to August this year, more than seven in 10 of those polled found Singapore’s public transport fares affordable.

Additionally, six out of 10 commuters polled said they were willing to pay higher fares so that other groups of commuters – such as students, those with disabilities and seniors – would be less affected by the fare hike.

The expansion of the public transport network, coupled with three years of fare reductions have also seen commuters taking more efficient travel routes, said the PTC.

This was seen in data showing reductions in distance travelled by adults (5 per cent), students (10 per cent) and senior citizens (5 per cent), respectively. Meanwhile, average journey fares for adults, students and seniors also dipped by 7 per cent, 10 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively.

‘No fare reduction next year’

Speaking at the press conference, PTC chair Richard Magnus said that in reviewing public transport fare prices, there was a need to strike a “very delicate balance” between rising costs and keeping fares affordable.

Asked whether commuters could expect a fare reduction following the 2019 Fare Review Exercise, Magnus said, “I think that’s a no-no. I don’t think there will be a fare reduction next year.”