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Khaw Boon Wan calls one of the biggest bus and train fare hikes in years “unavoidable”

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Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has categorised the Public Transport Council’s (PTC) latest recommendation to hike bus and train fares as an “unavoidable” result of a “difficult balancing job”.

Khaw’s comments come after the Ministry of Transport accepted the PTC’s recommendation to hike bus and train fares by an overall 4.3 per cent.

The fare hike, which has been dubbed “one of the biggest bus and train fare hikes in years” by transport analysts, will go into effect from 29 December this year. 4.3 per cent is the maximum allowable increase the PTC can recommend, under the new review formula.

Under the new fare framework, adults will charged an additional 6 cents per trip paid for via travel cards while each single-trip train fare and adult cash bus fare will go up by 10 cents. Students and senior citizens using their concession travel cards will have to pay an additional 1 cent per trip but will not face any fare increase in cash fares or the price of monthly concession passes.

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The PTC cited a 26.2 per cent rebound in energy prices and the reason that ridership isn’t keeping up with capacity growth under the new “network capacity” factor, as it made the fare hike recommendation.

Asserting that the fare increase is “necessary in a rising cost environment”, the council pointed out that transport operators SMRT Rail and SBS Transit are facing “significant operating losses”. It added: “These cost pressures have also been faced by other cities which have had to raise fares to keep pace with the operating cost increases.”

Taking to Facebook, Khaw Boon Wan responded to the fare hike and said that the PTC comprises of “reasonable and balanced” members and that the council “has chosen the right strategy to be open, transparent and fair. “

Calling the fare hike an “unavoidable decision,” Khaw spoke about what a challenging job the PTC has to balance the interests of both commuters and transport operators. Read his response in full here:

“A Difficult Balancing Job
“The Public Transport Council has a difficult job, balancing the interests of commuters and transport operators. PTC’s decision on fares seldom pleases all. Commuters do not welcome fare increases; operators need fare adjustments to keep pace with their operating costs. Against such challenges, PTC has chosen the right strategy to be open, transparent and fair. PTC comprises a number of wise men and women, from different background. I know them to be reasonable and balanced. After 3 years of deciding on fare reductions, PTC has now made an unavoidable decision to raise fares by 4.3%. PTC noted that while wages rose 10% over the last three years, fares have gone down by 8.3%.
“PTC has capped the card fare increase at 6 cents for adults, and at 1 cent for seniors and students, lower wage workers and persons with disabilities. This will mitigate the impact of the fare increase. To further help lower income families cope, the Government will provide $9 million of transport vouchers for these families.
“The Government will continue to heavily subsidise public transport – $5 billion for buses, $4 billion for rail renewal and $20 billion for expanding the rail network in the next five years. We are mindful that each dollar to subsidise commuters means one less taxpayer dollar for other public services like healthcare and education.”

While some netizens felt that a 6-10 cents increase is not all that much, others pointed out that this will definitely add up for commuters who rely on public transport as their main mode of getting around.

Coupled with the hikes in water price, electricity tariffs, and the impending GST hike, food price increase, gas and petrol increase and such, netizens lamented that the cost of living keeps rising without an end in sight:

A Difficult Balancing JobThe Public Transport Council has a difficult job, balancing the interests of commuters and…

Posted by Khaw Boon Wan on Tuesday, 30 October 2018

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