Train and bus fares to go up next year

It’s not that bad, really

obama

Wah another increase? That might be the first reaction to the headline. No surprise because cost of living is on the minds of many people now. But I am glad that you actually clicked on the article, because many people just comment without reading (shame on you!) Let me explain why the fare increases are not that bad.

So first of all, the Public Transport Council (PTC) announced on 3 Sep that public transport operators could increase fares by up to 4.3 per cent, the maximum allowed by PTC. The operators may submit their fare applications to the PTC by 1 Oct. So eventually, the fare increase could be less than 4.3 per cent.

PTC has actually reduced fares by a total of 8.3 per cent for the previous three consecutive years. This is largely due to the continued double-digit dip in energy prices. Now that energy prices rebounded by 26.2 per cent last year, I think it is not unreasonable for a fare increase of 4.3 per cent.

To be fair, train breakdowns do not happen that often already (*touch wood). I read somewhere that there are about 200 new trains. Our train network is also getting denser with new train lines like the Downtown line and upcoming Thomson-East Coast line (Stage I opening in 2019) offering higher redundancy in case of train breakdowns.

train

And the number of buses have increased, so waiting times have gone down. Over the past 5 years, more than 1,000 new buses were introduced through the Bus Service Enhancement Programme and Bus Contracting Model.

bus

If we want public transport workers to be paid fairly and for physical assets to be kept in good condition, transport fares have to keep up with operating costs – there is no free lunch in the world. If you want free public transport, someone aka YOU (the taxpayer) has to pay for it somehow.

According to this Straits Times report, a 4.3 per cent fare increase is about 10 cents per journey. I’m not saying that 10 cents per journey is a small amount – it could add up for those on a tight budget. But it’s not a $1 increase lah. All in all, I think 10 cents is a fair amount, especially after a total drop of 8.3 per cent in the past three years.