New rail infrastructure adds to rising costs of public transport: PTC chair Richard Magnus

New rail infrastructure adds to rising costs of public transport: PTC chair Richard Magnus

The Public Transport Council will also review a trial scheme that allows free travel and cheaper bus and train fares during off-peak hours.

The Public Transport Council (PTC) will consider the rising cost of maintaining new rail infrastructure as it goes into its annual fare review exercise, PTC chairman Richard Magnus said on Thursday (Oct 19). The council will also consider whether free pre-peak travel and lower off-peak travel fares will be made permanent.

SINGAPORE: The Public Transport Council (PTC) will consider the rising cost of maintaining new rail infrastructure as it goes into its annual fare review exercise, PTC chairman Richard Magnus said on Thursday (Oct 19).

The council will also consider whether free pre-peak travel and lower off-peak travel fares will be made permanent.

Mr Magnus wrote in a blog post, titled Balancing Sustainability and Affordability, that the council "cannot turn a blind eye" to rising costs as it has to ensure the "viability of the public transport system".

He detailed the cost of investments in public transport, such as the new Downtown Line and bus contracting subsidies.

The Government’s investments in new rail infrastructure will cost S$20 billion over the next five years, and comes on top of S$4 billion to renew, upgrade and expand rail operating assets, he wrote. Another S$4 billion will be spent on bus contracting subsidies over the same period.

"While these investments are a necessary part of the Government’s push to improve the public transport experience, they raise operating costs and impose a heavy cost burden on taxpayers," he said.

OFF-PEAK TRAVEL REVIEW

The PTC will also review the findings of the Free Pre-Peak Travel and the Off-Peak Pass trials.

The council will assess if the tiered fares to incentivise off-peak travel should become a permanent feature, Mr Magnus said.

"The concentration of travel within a few hours each day is resource-intensive and inefficient. A more sustainable solution is to spread out travel demand across the day." he said.

"The council is therefore evaluating travel patterns to determine how a differential fare mechanism can best help smoothen travel demand in Singapore."

Mr Magnus highlighted that Singapore’s rail fares are among the lowest in Asia, and considerably lower than those in Australian, European and North American cities. The council has also got feedback from commuters that fares are affordable through focus group discussions, he said.

"We must, and will, continue to keep the voices of our commuters firmly at the forefront, even as we consider the rising costs. We will announce our fare decision in due course," he said.

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