Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan drew more flak online after he announced that the current public transport fare formula is “inadequate” and that the Public Transport Council (PTC) is reviewing it to better track “total costs,” in Parliament yesterday.
Khaw opined that local public transport fares are presently affordable and that the Government needs to ensure that the transport network remains sustainable: “We must be careful that (fares) are not priced too cheaply, as maintaining a high-quality transport system requires resources. Cheap fares are popular, but they are not sustainable.”
On the PTC fare review, Khaw said: “I am confident that they can work out a fair and sustainable arrangement. Please support the PTC when they make their recommendations.”
Khaw seemed to indicate that public transport fares will be hiked as he explained how expensive it has been to improve and expand the public transport network:
“Over the past five years, improvements to public transport services have increased operating costs by about 60 per cent. One major contributing factor is the large increase in network capacity as we opened new lines and added more buses and trains.
“This huge cost increase has been borne by the Government. Against such rising cost, fares have gone down by 2 per cent over the same period.”
“Every dollar spent on transport is a dollar less for other expenditure – like schools, healthcare and security,” he added, explaining how the Transport Ministry’s budget has surpassed the budgets for the Ministry of Health, Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Education to become the second-biggest budget after the budget for defense.
Netizens responding to Khaw’s statement mocked that frequent train breakdowns and high ministerial salaries are also not “sustainable”:
Others lamented that fares are already not “cheap” and called on the Minister to show what improvements have been made first: