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SBS, SMRT submit applications for train fare review

SBS, SMRT submit applications for train fare review

File photo of an MRT train. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: Rail operators SBS Transit and SMRT Trains have submitted their applications for a possible increase in train fares to the Public Transport Council (PTC).

In a statement, a spokesperson for the council confirmed that it has received the fare applications from both rail operators.

Earlier this month, PTC announced that public transport fares could increase by up to 7 per cent in this year’s fare review exercise. Fares rose 4.3 per cent last year, following three years of fare reductions.

READ: Review of transport fare formula needed to reflect rising cost of operating MRT system: Khaw Boon Wan

READ: Public transport fares may increase by up to 7%: PTC

The recent hike in energy prices was one of the contributing factors to the potential increase. Rail operating costs have also gone up due to service enhancements, PTC said.

The applications only apply to train fares, as the Land Transport Authority (LTA) now owns the fixed and operating assets for buses. Operators are paid a fixed sum to ply services under the bus contracting model.

The PTC said LTA is submitting “information on the bus industry financials to help in the fare review process”.

SBS Transit confirmed the submission in a statement on Monday but did not share details of its fare application.

"The cost of rail operations has been increasing due mainly to higher repairs and maintenance costs. As a result, SBS Transit has continued to incur rail losses despite the growth in ridership," it said.

"It is hoped that an increase in fares will help mitigate some of these cost increases."

SMRT Trains CEO Lee Ling Wee said the company supports a 7 per cent fare increase for “high performance and sustainability of the rail service”.

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“In financial year 2019, SMRT Trains’ maintenance-related expenditure accounted for 71 per cent of rail fare revenue, up from 62 per cent in financial year 2018,” he added. “Because of intensified and comprehensive maintenance efforts, total operating cost has exceeded fare revenue and is not sustainable.

“While PTC deliberates on the fare review, SMRT will press on with cost management efforts including our Kaizen initiatives to drive productivity and cut wastage, as well as greater use of technology."

The PTC will announce its decision on the fare adjustment in the last quarter of 2019, the spokesman said. An increase of 7 per cent would translate to 9 or 10 cents more per ride.

Source: CNA/ga(hm)


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