- POSTED: 16 Jan 2014 17:06
- UPDATED: 16 Jan 2014 23:11
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Adult card fares for buses and trains will increase by 4 to 6 cents per journey starting 6 April. In addition, the government is introducing concession schemes for low-income workers and persons with disabilities.
SINGAPORE: From April, adult card fares will increase by 4 and 6 cents more per journey on buses and trains.
Senior citizens will pay 2 to 3 cents more per journey, while students will pay 2 cents more per journey.
This comes as the Public Transport Council approved a 3.2-per cent fare adjustment.
Two new concession schemes will start from July for low-wage workers and persons with disabilities.
About 450,000 commuters will benefit from the schemes in the first year and will cost the government some S$50 million.
For low-wage workers, the new Workfare Transport Concession Scheme gives them a 15 per cent reduction off adult fares.
To qualify, low-wage earners must be below 60 years old and are beneficiaries of the Workfare Income Supplement scheme.
The Workfare Transport Concession Scheme will be implemented from 5 July.
For persons with disabilities, a new concession scheme will give them a 25 per cent discount off adult fares. In addition, they will not have to pay additional fares for distances beyond 7.2 kilometres.
On top of this, persons with disabilities can opt to buy a Monthly Concession Pass with unlimited bus and train rides at S$60 per month.
Persons with disabilities who are under the age of 60 can apply for the scheme. Beneficiaries have to be medically certified to qualify.
Interim financial assistance will be provided to eligible low-wage workers and persons with disabilities to help defray the increase in their travel expenditure over three months from the implementation of the revised fares.
Eligible low-wage workers will be issued S$30 transport vouchers, and persons with disabilities will receive S$80.
The Public Transport Council will also introduce a new monthly unlimited travel pass for adult Singaporeans and permanent residents, priced at S$120.
There will also be a S$60 new monthly unlimited travel concession pass for senior citizens.
Children under the age of seven will get free travel from 6 April.
The prices of hybrid monthly concession passes for primary and secondary school students will be reduced slightly. Primary school students will pay S$41 for the pass, instead of S$42.50. The hybrid pass for secondary school students will cost S$51, down from S$52.50.
Polytechnic students will enjoy the same monthly concession pass prices as secondary, junior college and Institute of Technical Education students.
Prices for polytechnic monthly concession passes will be brought down. The bus concession pass price will be S$27.50, down from S$52. The train concession pass will be priced at S$25, down from S$45. The price of the hybrid concession pass will be S$51. The old price was S$97.
Ross Rosli, a student from Singapore Polytechnic, said: "Poly students have been really wanting (concessions) so much. And so it's good that the government is actually listening to what we've been asking for."
The monthly hybrid concession pass price for university students will be reduced from S$97 to S$85.
Monthly concession passes for full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) will also be lowered to the same price as those for university students. The price for NSF bus concession pass will be S$52 monthly, down from S$61. The train concession pass price will be S$45 a month, down from S$50. The hybrid concession pass will be priced at S$85 per month, down from S$111.
Daily limit on rides for all train and hybrid monthly passes will also be removed.
Dr Park Byung Joo, head of urban transport management programme at SIM’s School of Business, said: "Two concession schemes for persons with disabilities and low-income earners will be funded by the government but for most of the other concession schemes, these are subsidised by the regular commuters who pay the full fare. So, people pay more to subsidise these concessions."
Public transport fares were last adjusted in 2011.
In 2012, the fare adjustment exercise was suspended to allow the Fare Review Mechanism Committee (FRMC) to complete its work.
Gerard Ee, chairman of PTC, said: “We are very mindful that 3.2 per cent (fare adjustment) is higher than what we've ever done before. There will be commuters who are impacted by this."
However, the council added the fare increase is significantly lower than the expected average national wage increase last year.
As part of the fare review exercise, public transport operators will be required to make a one-off contribution to the Public Transport Fund.
In total, SMRT and SBS Transit will give about S$11.5 million to help needy families cope with the fare adjustments. In previous years, they needed to contribute just under a million dollars.
Both SMRT and SBS Transit said they support the establishment of the Public Transport Fund to help ease the travel expenses of those in need.
SBS Transit will be contributing S$7.2 million to the fund.
The viability of buses and trains will also be taken into account.
Revenue collected from the fare increase will benefit bus and rail operations - bus operations will get about S$48 million, while rail operations will get S$5.5 million.
In a Facebook post, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said the council has struck a good balance by keeping the fare increase a few notches below the average wage increase in 2013.
Mr Lui added that government agencies will ensure the application process for the new concession schemes is as "fuss-free and smooth" as possible.
Those who do not benefit directly from the new travel concessions will not be left out, said Dr Janil Puthucheary, member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for transport.
He said that Members of Parliament can implement other assistance schemes within their own constituencies.
Dr Janil said the scope of concessions offered with the new schemes is already very broad.
He said: "There are a lot of different concessionary fares, a lot of different options. So could we neaten the approach? Possibly. There are advantages to having a targeted approach as well. So that's something that needs to be studied. So I think that type of smoothening and neatening of the criteria may be something to be studied, going forward."