Cheap public transport fares popular but 'not sustainable': Khaw Boon Wan

Cheap public transport fares popular but 'not sustainable': Khaw Boon Wan

Fares are currently being reviewed by the Public Transport Council to "better track total costs".

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File photo of an SBS Transit bus. (Photo: Francine Lim)

SINGAPORE: The fare formula for public transport is being reviewed to better track total costs, as the Ministry of Transportation (MOT)'s budget rises for upcoming infrastructure upgrades.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in Parliament on Wednesday (Mar 7) that while Singapore's transport fares are currently "affordable", the Government also needs to ensure the sustainability of the transport network.

"We must be careful that (fares) are not priced too cheaply, as maintaining a high-quality transport system requires resources," he said. "Cheap fares are popular, but they are not sustainable."

The current formula is "inadequate", he said, and the Public Transport Council (PTC) is reviewing it to take into account "total costs".

"I am confident that they can work out a fair and sustainable arrangement. Please support the PTC when they make their recommendations," Mr Khaw said.

Noting how massive investments are being made to improve the transport system, Mr Khaw said that it would be "a disaster" for public transport subsidies to spike against declining revenue.

"Over the past five years, improvements to public transport services have increased operating costs by about 60 per cent," he said. "One major contributing factor is the large increase in network capacity as we opened new lines and added more buses and trains."

"This huge cost increase has been borne by the Government," explained Mr Khaw. "Against such rising cost, fares have gone down by 2 per cent over the same period."

"Every dollar spent on transport is a dollar less for other expenditure – like schools, healthcare and security," noted Mr Khaw, who is also the Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure.

MOT’s budget is now the second largest among ministries, after the Ministry of Defence and ahead of the health ministry, Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Education, he added.

Source: CNA/fr