Cheap public transport fares 'popular but not sustainable': Khaw Boon Wan

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

The public transport fare formula is being reviewed by the Public Transport Council (PTC) in the light of rising operating costs, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament on Wednesday (7 March).

Khaw told the House that the current formula is “inadequate” and can be better improved to track total costs. “While transport fares must be affordable, we must be careful that they are not priced too cheaply as maintaining a high quality transport requires resources. Cheap fares are popular but they are just not sustainable,” said the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sembawang GRC.

Khaw added,  “I’m confident that PTC can work out a fair and sustainable arrangement. Please support the PTC when they make their recommendations,” said Khaw.

The 65-year-old affirmed Tampines GRC MP Cheng Li Hui’s observation that there had been a “alarming spike” in public transport subsidies. Khaw noted that his Ministry’s budget is now the second biggest among ministries after the Ministry of Defence, and ahead of the Health, National Development and Education ministries

Much of this was down to the fact that, over the last five years, improvements to public transport services have increased operating costs by 60 per cent new lines, buses and trains were added.

In the same period, said Khaw, fares have gone down by 2 per cent.

Khaw added, “Over the next five years, we will provide subsidies of about $5b for public bus services and $4b to renew our rail operating assets…another $20b will be invested in infrastructure to further expand the public transport network.”