Khaw Boon Wan Announces Buses And Train Fare Review As Current Fares Are “Not Sustainable”
Brace yourself for public transport fare hikes folks.
That is, if Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan’s latest comments in parliament come to fruition.
To cope with rising operating cost of a growing transport system, Mr Khaw mentioned in parliament on Wednesday (7 Mar) that changes need to be made to combat a fare formula system that is “inadequate”.
Changes involving possible public transport fare hikes, according to The Straits Times.
Let’s breakdown exactly what he said.
Cheap fares popular but unsustainable
Mr Khaw raised his concern over the issue of “cheap fares” in public transport, saying,
Cheap fares are popular, but they are not sustainable. [emphasis ours]
He also pointed out that changes need to be made to update a fare formula system that’s no longer properly functional.
Regardless, as our MRT system’s reliability is still under public scrutiny, the proposition of a fare hike is not particularly music to commuters’ ears.
Steep increase in public transport operating costs
Mr Khaw agreed that an “alarming spike” in public transport subsidies from the government was observed.
And emphasised that operating costs for our public transport networks have increased by 60% within the last five years.
This is due to infrastructure expansion works, such as building newer rail lines and adding more buses.
After we did a little digging, it’s easy to see why public transport operating costs have risen.
Increased media attention for public transport mishaps have perhaps led to a slowing ridership growth on public transport.
And now, rail operators seem to think they’ve pumped in resources to fix the situation, without gaining much revenue in return.
This quick theory we’ve formulated does indeed concur with what Mr Khaw commented,
And we should all be alarmed…rising cost against declining revenue have only one outcome, a disaster.
And what is the way to offset this imbalance in the equation? Raising fares apparently.
Possible fare hike despite $5 billion in Rail Infrastructure Fund?
Mr Khaw added that the government will be spending more on public transport infrastructure in the next five years.
Plans have been put into motion to inject $5 billion from Singapore’s Budget 2018 surplus into the new Rail Infrastructure Fund for all major rail lines.
However, faced with rising costs and slower ridership growth, rail operators are apparently still lacking funds to fix our public transport despite this massive injection.
We’re not sure how much more is needed from the possible fare hike to finally fix our trains, once and for all.
Transport network to grow to support big infrastructure projects
Mr Khaw ended with the rationale to rapidly grow the transport network.
He explained that as Singapore prepares for the arrival of Terminal 5 and other projects like the Tuas mega port, the transport network must be able to cope with the volume of passengers that these projects will bring.
The Transport Minister quipped,
No point being able to fly or sail into Singapore easily, only to be stuck in traffic jams.
Although that may be true, we think that from a commuter’s perspective, there’s no point in increasing fares, for trains that keep breaking down either.
Featured image from Facebook.