SINGAPORE: Train fares for morning pre-peak travel will be cut by up to 50 cents from Dec 29 across the entire rail network, the Public Transport Council (PTC) announced on Monday (Oct 30).
Other public transport fares will be maintained for 2018, the PTC added. This comes after a review of the Free Pre-Peak Travel (FPPT) and Off-Peak Pass (OPP) trials, which were introduced in 2013 and 2015 and extended earlier this year, to incentivise off-peak travel on public transport.
Having reviewed both trials, PTC said it found that discounted fares during morning pre-peak hours have been effective in encouraging rail commuters to travel off-peak.
Since FPPT was introduced, there has been a "sustained 7 per cent shift of rail trips out of the morning peak hours, even as rail ridership continued to grow over the same period", said the PTC.
However the OPP trial shifted fewer than 200 rail users to off-peak travel, it added.
As such, PTC has decided to extend discounted morning pre-peak card fares across the entire rail network, as compared with only 18 city centre MRT stations in the FPPT trial.
Commuters who tap in with their fare cards at any rail station before 7.45am on weekdays (excluding public holidays) will be able to enjoy fare discounts of up to 50 cents.
Rail fares outside of this timing and bus fares will remain unchanged.
Additionally, the PTC said, a further 3.2 per cent reduction will be carried forward to the next fare review exercise.
The fare adjustment quantum for 2017 was a reduction of 3.9 per cent due to low energy prices offsetting increases in core CPI and wages, according to the PTC.
Combined with a roll-over quantum from last year's exercise, a total reduction of 5.4 per cent was the maximum quantum allowed in the fare adjustment formula for the 2017 exercise.
"About 300,000 rail commuters already travel before the morning peak and stand to benefit from lower fares," said PTC Chairman Richard Magnus. "We hope that the lower morning pre-peak fares will encourage more rail commuters to make the shift to morning pre-peak travel."
Adding that commuters can "enjoy a more comfortable ride while paying lower fares", he said that spreading out travel demand in this way would also make "more efficient use of our public transport system".
Free Pre-Peak Travel (FPPT) and Off-Peak Pass (OPP) trials will stop after Dec 28 this year. Commuters can continue to buy the OPP until Nov 22.
GOVERNMENT ACCEPTS PTC RECOMMENDATION
Welcoming the PTC's recommendation, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) said that the introduction of lower morning pre-peak fares throughout the rail network would encourage off-peak travel, "resulting in less crowded trains and more efficient use of public transport resources".
In line with this, MOT said the same lower morning pre-peak rail fares will be extended to those using the Workfare Transport Concession Card or Persons with Disabilities Concession Card.
Commuters with these cards will get an additional reduction of 50 cents from their discounted fares, when they tap in before 7.45am on weekdays (excluding public holidays) at any rail station.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT INCREASINGLY MORE AFFORDABLE: PTC
The council added that public transport fares have become more affordable for the average user over time.
Previous fare adjustments over the last two years have seen a combined reduction of more than 6 per cent, according to the PTC.
"Household income increases have consistently outpaced changes in public transport expenditure over the past decade," said the PTC.
It said that the percentage of monthly household incomes spent on public transport has decreased from 3.1 per cent in 2006 to 2.1 per cent in 2016, for second quintile households, and from 4.4 per cent in 2006 to 2.9 per cent in 2016 for second decile households.