The new seven per cent public transport fare hike for adult commuters that the Public Transport Council (PTC) announced yesterday is the highest fare increase since 1998.
Speculation that fares would be increased by seven per cent – the maximum allowable increase under this year’s fare review exercise – came after Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan cited high public transport operating costs in Parliament this July.
Asserting that rail operators SMRT and SBS Transit have been operating at a loss and have lost millions due to the increased expenditure in running public transport, Mr Khaw said that the PTC fare adjustments were not implemented to the full extent of what the formula allowed until recently.
Asserting that “we must have the discipline to implement the formula fully,” he said:
“If we had strictly followed PTC’s fare formula, the operators would have been better able to cover the costs of the intensified maintenance. But we must have the discipline to implement the formula fully, as we adjust fares over the next four years.”
Singaporeans sharply criticised the Minister for making an assertion that the people need to compensate for the high operating costs especially when transport costs rose to improve public transport reliability due to recent debacles and the Government’s efforts to raise rail reliability in the wake of the many train breakdowns and service disruptions in recent years.
Some agreed that this was an example of “privatising profits and socialising losses,” while many others called on Mr Khaw and the top management of SMRT and SBS Transit to reduce their large pay packages to compensate for the subsidies and operating costs themselves.
Despite the backlash, the PTC has approved the highest fare increase in over two decades with the latest seven per cent fare hike for adult commuters. The fare increase for concession groups has been capped at four per cent.