Unsustainable for transport costs to rise faster than fares: Khaw Boon Wan

Hannah Teoh
·Senior Content Producer
Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Fares have not kept up with rising costs and it is “not sustainable” for taxpayers to subsidise transport operating costs, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament on Wednesday (8 March).

Speaking during the Committee of Supply debate, Khaw said that over the next five years, the government expects to spend nearly $4 billion in the transition of the New Rail Financing Framework, and another $4 billion to subsidise public bus services.

“All these – four plus four equals eight billion (dollars) is on top of about $20 billion we will be spending to build new public transport infrastructure,” said Khaw.

“Over the years, as fares have not kept up with rising costs, taxpayers have to subsidise more and more of the operating costs especially as we have been raising service standards significantly. This is not sustainable,” said Khaw.

Khaw continued, “While the government will continue to subsidise public transport heavily, we must find a fair balance in the relative burden to be borne by commuters, taxpayers and the operators. And remember also that commuters are also taxpayers.”

The Public Transport Council (PTC) will be reviewing the fare formula this year after the current fare formula expires. Khaw added that he was “confident” the PTC will “decide wisely”.

“But remember, the PTC cannot always bring good news, sometimes they have to adjust fares upwards. And when they do, I hope commuters will be understanding,” said Khaw.