Transport fares are likely to go up in coming years: Lui Tuck Yew

An SMRT bus service 700 was involved in an accident along Dairy Farm Road that resulted in one passenger dead and two others injured, including the bus's driver. (Yahoo! file photo)

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said on Monday that transport fares are likely to go up in the coming years though they should stay affordable for the average commuter.

Lui said this in Parliament after announcing that the government fully accepted the recommendations submitted last week by the Fare Review Mechanism Committee (FRMC), including two new concession schemes – one for low income workers and the other for persons with disabilities.

Following the acceptance of FRMC’s report, the Public Transport Council (PTC) will then apply the new fare formula for the next fare review exercise and consider how to incorporate the committee’s recommendations on existing concessions.

Lui urged the PTC to consider the possibility that any fare increase  for the next round of fare adjustment not exceed the average national wage increase so that transport fares would not be less affordable.

The minister also said it was likely that PTC’s decision and implementation on the fare review will likely be in the first half of next year rather than be in this year as the council will need time to go through various deliberations.

Meanwhile, Lui said the ministry has yet to determine the details of the two concession schemes but that it estimates that roughly about half a million Singaporeans who are disabled and needy will benefit.

Lui also said that the exact amount of discounts to be given to the needy and disabled have yet to be decided but he assured that the discounts given will “more than offset” transport fares the people in those groups.

In addition, about one million commuters such as pre-schoolers and students, including those in Polytechnic schools, will also benefit from the new fare exercise in some way, Lui said.

He also acknowledged the “unhappiness” among Singaporeans with regards to the transport service levels in the country, and that some people had suggested suspending fare increases until there is a tangible improvement in service levels.

However, Lui said that the FRMC had decided that the issue of service level is best addressed separately outside the fare formula.