Transport fare recommendations: Who will benefit?

Low-income workers, the disabled, the elderly, as well as polytechnic students and young children may benefit from the recommendations by the Fare Review Mechanism Committee, which were announced on Tuesday.

Last year, it was announced that former Senior District Judge Richard Magnus will chair the committee, which will review the transport fare adjustment formula and the framework for fare adjustments.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew expanded the scope of the review in February this year and asked the committee to also look into fare concessions and affordability.

Mr Magnus said: "The idea is to make it (public transport) affordable to as many as possible."

The Ministry of Transport will give an official response to the recommendations next week.

Here are some of the recommendations:

New concession schemes for low-income workers, disabled

  • For a definition of low-income workers, the committee considered individuals eligible for the Central Provident Fund's Workfare Income Supplement. Workers who qualify for this scheme earn a gross monthly income of $1,900 and below.
  • The disabled will be identified by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, although the committee noted that there should also be some flexibility in place.
  • These concessions are to be funded by the Government.

Enhanced benefits for existing schemes

  • Free travel for children below the age of seven, instead of the current 0.9m height criterion.
  • Polytechnic students to pay less for their Monthly Concession Pass (MCP), with a price pegged closer to secondary student fares, which amounts to $52.50 for a bus and train hybrid pass. Currently, they pay the same price as university students, who pay $97 for a hybrid pass.
  • The committee noted that poly students were offered a discount because "they are not strictly university, but they are not strictly secondary students at the same time".
  • Heavy users of public transport who choose the monthly pass will pay less. The current Integrated Season Pass costs $190 a month for unlimited train and bus trips. About 100,000 commuters will benefit.
  • The elderly can now choose to purchase the MCP. This is on top of the concessionary fares they already enjoy per ride.
  • The costs of these concessions are to be shared between the Government and commuters.

A more responsive fare formula

  • The new formula should now include an Energy index to reflect the volatility and rising cost of fuel.
  • The public transport council should allow operators to roll over a portion of the quantum of fare increase to the next fare adjustment, such as in the case of circumstances like high unemployment or adverse economic situations. This will also safeguard commuters by smoothening out large increases.
  • Fare reviews should be done yearly.

Affordability for low-income households

  • Public transport operators to contribute 20 to 50 per cent of their expected increase in fare revenue to the Public Transport Fund, which was set up to help needy families cope with the impact of public transport increases.

Get The New Paper for more stories.