Shorter rides for poly students

Polytechnic students on a budget no longer have to make the choice of taking only trains, or just buses, depending on which concession pass they can afford.

And that means shorter travelling time to and from school.

The price of their various passes will be slashed by as much as half on April 6, when a slew of concessions announced by the Public Transport Council comes into effect.

Monthly hybrid passes for both train and bus rides will cost poly students $51, instead of the current $97. The train pass will cost $25, down from $45, while the price of the bus pass will be $27.50, down from $52.

"Sometimes, I just take the bus home even though it takes longer, as I want to make use of my bus pass," said Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Clarence Ching, 19, who has been regularly paying $52 for the bus pass. "With the hybrid pass becoming cheaper, it makes more sense to buy it... I'll have more travelling options and that means I can reach home faster."

The price of the passes for poly students will match the price of those for junior college students - something poly students like him have long been asking for. They have been paying the amount that older university students do.

Some, like Singapore Polytechnic student Brendan Tan, felt the passes with the current pricing did not have value for money. The 21-year-old said he bought the bus pass and the hybrid pass on two occasions, but they did little to reduce his transport expenses.

"Sometimes there is no difference, and sometimes, what I spend on transport is less than the cost of the pass," he said.

Like him, 17-year-old Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Carissa Chua decided against buying the travel passes as she felt they were too expensive. This was despite her having to take about five bus trips every day, both to school and to Tiong Bahru, where she has a part-time job.

"It now makes more sense to buy," said the only child of a dispatch rider and a retail assistant.

The polytechnics welcomed the move to give their students the same price structure as that for JC students.

A Nanyang Polytechnic spokesman revealed that students often "shared their concerns" about having to pay more "through dialogue sessions and feedback channels".

Mr Lim Biow Chuan, a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said many MPs had previously questioned why poly students were made to pay adult fares although they were the same age as their JC peers. "I've always felt that this was something we should change," said Mr Lim, who has been raising the issue in Parliament since three years ago.

Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng said he was "pleasantly surprised" to learn that the price of travel passes for poly students will match that for JC students.

"I thought the new price will be in between what poly students currently pay and the price JC students pay," he said. "But I'm glad. It's good news."

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