Bus/train fares: Making a left turn

In News Reports on January 16, 2014 at 10:55 pm

So the bus/train fare increases are out, based on new formulas devised by the Fare Review Committee. What would they have been under the old formula? Dunno. Should be higher since the old formula used inflation which included the cost of cars, rather than “core inflation’’. In any case, the G maintains that the new fares are at the level of 10 to 15 years ago, if anyone still remembers what they paid then.  

Here are some things you might have missed while you’re trying to figure out how much you have to pay for your usual bus/train trips from April 6.

  1. The 3.2 per cent increase is less than the 6.6 per cent the transport operators asked for and what the fare formula dictates. Don’t think that your fare per se will go up by 3.2 per cent. It refers to the extra revenue that the operators want. What 3.2 per cent means: $53.5 million for the two operators.
  2. The other 3.4 per cent increase will be “rolled over’’ to next year. So does this mean it will be 3.4 per cent plus whatever the formula says for 2014? According to the PTC, the 2014 rate should be “negative’’ or -0.3 per cent, according to its “estimates’’. That means next year’s rise should be 3.1 per cent.  Remember that!
  3. Transport fares have actually got more affordable over the years. They might have gone up in dollars and cents, but not as a proportion of total spending. Really.
  4. It’s cheaper, very much cheaper, to use CARD, not cash.
  5. There’s a new Adult Monthly Travel Pass which anyone can apply for. It’s $120 a month for unlimited travel. You might want to check what your transport bill is like under the new fare structure before jumping too quickly to buy one.
  6. There’s a new $60 a month card for senior citizens. Also for unlimited travel.
  7. A whole lot of new concessions were introduced which should make polytechnic students in particular very happy because their fares get cut by half.
  8. If you are on Workfare Income Supplement, you can get a 15 per cent discount off fares. If you are disabled, you get 25 per cent off. That starts from July 6 and is funded by the G. Yes, both are new schemes. G payout: $50 million.
  9. In the meantime, this group can  apply to community centres for transport vouchers. Some 250,000 vouchers worth $7.5 million will be available. That’s funded by the Public Transport Fund which the operators contribute to. Operator payout: $11.5 million.

There’s a contradiction between the ST report and what the PTC says. ST said that the $11.5 million will come from the $53.5 million extra revenue the operators will get with the fare increase. But the PTC said in its press statement that the “gain in revenue does not include money to be set aside by the operators for the Public Transport Fund’’.  Guess the operators will have to get the money from elsewhere…

The interesting thing about this exercise is that while the operators will get a $53.5 million revenue rise; the G is subsidising some commuters to the tune of $50million. This special group is known in transport jargon speak as LWW or low wage workers and PWD or person with disabilities. Yucks. Ugly acronyms…

That’s real good of the G. It’s turning left…

But I’m hoping a transport economist weighs in. What does this mean? That the G is actually footing most of the total fare rise through its subsidies for the two groups or what?  So hard to figure out or maybe I am just stupid. I would be more than happy to be corrected and labelled stupid.

Anyway, for the commuter, you will know what all the numbers mean to your pocket on April 6.


  1. What I don’t get… G gives $50 million to PTOs for low wage workers, but GIC/Temasek owns most of it, so frankly whose pocket is all this going into?

    And why is wage growth the basis for deciding fare increases? There are so many other factors but the PTC only talks about wage increases. Operating costs? Profitability? Inflation? Wage growth of the bottom 25%? Wage growth of the middle 50%?

    Does LTA’s choke on COE supply contribute to ridership?

    G gives PTOs $1.1b gift, followed by $50m this year… from public funds… might as well nationalise then?

  2. Public transport concessions funded by the Govt.

    I estimated the total concessions would be from $150m to $200m. I was wrong.

    My estimate was three times higher as the Govt said that the concessions would be about $50m.

    PTC announced that the two public transport operators here will make an additional $53.5 million in revenue; estimated public transport commuters of 3.3 million; and the fare
    adjustment means that ez-link card fares will go up by four to six cents
    for adults, two to three cents for senior citizens, and two cents for

    Questions are:

    a] how did PTC arrive at $53.5 million? Is this figure gross or net revenue? Say, based on five million trips a day on average x 5 cents per trip increase x 365 days, that would be some S$91 million?

    b] if net $53.5 million, what are the amounts that have been deducted from the gross amount? What is the gross amount? How is the $53.5 million arrived at, and the bases used in the estimation?

    c] if the $53.5 million were gross revenue, what will be the amounts to be deducted from this gross amount to arrive at the bottom-line net profit? Could the PTC provide the public with a listing of the estimated deductible amounts?

  3. “Aiyoh’ THEY raised the fare because the mobile TV was installed. Now this is removed, have they refunded the increase portion to the passengers.

    Private buses operators are made to pay for over loading what about the SBS Trans buses overloading fantastically. They go scot free. Do they care for the safety of the passengers. How are the passengers covered by insurance to what extent. Are they saying that that amount of increase is to cover heavily the risk of overloading such insensitive and inhumane affair?????

    SengH Woo

    On Fri, Jan 17, 2014 at 6:55 AM, Bertha Harian

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