79,000 apply for transport vouchers

TransitLink's new Add Value Machine Plus kiosk allows commuters to get their fare refunds as well as redeem transport vouchers given to needy families.

ABOUT 79,000 residents have applied for public transport vouchers since this year's exercise began on Monday.

The Government has set aside $7.5 million this year to fund 250,000 transport vouchers of $30 each to help needy families cope with fare increases that will kick in from April 6. It was announced in January that bus and train fares will go up by two to six cents in April.

Eligible families can apply for vouchers year-round at 107 community centres and clubs islandwide, and do so multiple times while the vouchers last.

This is unlike the last exercise in 2011, when there was a deadline for applications and transport vouchers were restricted to one per household.

Only about half of the 200,000 vouchers available in 2011 were taken up.

In a joint statement, the Transport Ministry and People's Association said there is no need to rush to apply for the vouchers.

The People's Association will continue to work with citizens consultative committees to help needy families apply for them.

The application process has also been simplified. Unlike previous years when applicants had to make two trips to community centres to apply for and then pick up the vouchers, those who apply this year need to make just one trip to sign up for the vouchers.

Successful applicants will receive a letter by post, which will serve as the voucher.

They can present it at any TransitLink office to top up their travel cards, or purchase monthly concession passes. Alternatively, they can type in their particulars to redeem the vouchers when topping up their travel cards at add-value machines.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo said she hopes those who have benefited from the vouchers will spread the word "so everyone who needs help gets it".

Part-time cleaner Poh Sok Teok, 58, who travels daily and was worried when she heard about the hike in public transport fares, has applied for a voucher.

"I was also told I can apply again if I need more help. This is good news for me," she said.

roysim@sph.com.sg


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