- Assistance schemes include $500,000 worth of transport vouchers which will be given to the poor and needy
- Train fares, children and student fares and concession pass fares as well as cash fares for basic bus services will remain unchanged
- One in three of our commuters will not be affected by the fare increase
- Net effect is a 1.52% increase in fares – less than the 2 percentage point increase in Goods and Services Tax (GST) which is being absorbed by the Company
The Public Transport Council (PTC) today announced fare revisions for bus fares which will come into effect on 1 October 2007.
Under the new fare structure, adult ez-link bus fares will be increased by between 1 and 2 cents. The first and second fare band of bus services paid by the ez-link card will increase by 2 cents, while the third to sixth fare bands will see a 1-cent increase. The seventh and eighth fare bands will not be increased.
There will be no increase for train fares. Similarly, children and student fares, as well as fares for e-stamps, will not be increased. Cash fares and single trip tickets for rail will also remain unchanged. As a result, one in three of our commuters will not be affected by the fare increase.
SBS Transit is aware that there will be some groups of commuters who will feel the impact of a fare increase more. To help mitigate this impact, SBS Transit will be extending $5.12 million worth of assistance schemes. This will comprise:
- $500,000 worth of transport vouchers which will be disbursed through the Citizens’ Consultative Committees (CCCs) and the National Trades Union Congress, to complement the assistance they are already rendering to the needy through the CCC ComCare Fund; and
- $2.78 million worth of extended concession hours for the elderly,
- $1.84 million for capping the maximum journey fare at $1.90 and offering unlimited bus travel with our SeasonPass. These value-for-money propositions will cost us an additional $270,000 this coming year.
SBS Transit Chief Operating Officer, Mr Gan Juay Kiat, said: “With costs rising, especially fuel, manpower and GST costs, it is difficult for us to keep fares unchanged. In fact, the net increase of 1.52% this year is smaller than the 2 percentage point increase in GST which we have been absorbing since July 2007. That said, we are aware that any increase in fares, however small, will have an impact on certain groups of commuters. To ensure that needy families are not severely impacted, we will be giving them $500,000 worth of transport vouchers. In addition, we will continue to offer our elderly passengers concessionary travel from 9am on weekdays and throughout the entire weekend. We are also keeping student and child concession fares unchanged.”
Under the maximum allowed by the formula recommended by the Fare Review Mechanism Committee, fares could have increased by up to 1.8% this year. The effective increase for SBS Transit is however much lower at 1.52%, after taking account into the various concessions, the maximum fare cap and SeasonPass, as well as the contribution to the transport fund.
The fare adjustment, which will yield $9.3 million for a full year, will only provide partial relief for the increased cost pressures we face. Fuel costs, for example, rose by 21.5% or $18.2 million in 2006 – having already increased by 41.2% in 2005. In addition, the Company has been absorbing GST since its introduction in 1994 – making us one of the few companies to do so. In all, close to $240 million has been absorbed. The latest increase will add another $11.8 million in GST to be absorbed by the Company.
Despite the high costs of operation, SBS Transit has continued to introduce new services to cater to commuters’ needs. To address issues like waiting time and the reliability of our bus services, we have invested in an Automated Vehicle Management System (AVMS).
This helps us to know where congestions are and enables us to re-direct buses when roads are made impassable. As a result, commuters on board do not have to spend hours stuck in a jam and passengers further down the route are not kept waiting for an extended period of time.
With the AVMS, we have introduced the Intelligent Route Information System (iris) where commuters are able to know in real time when their next and subsequent buses will arrive at their bus stops. This minimises the anxiety caused by unknown waiting times and puts commuters in better control of their journey times.
We have also launched 13 premium services that ply from housing estates and neighbourhoods of new towns to Robinson Road/Shenton Way, offering commuters more direct and comfortable rides from their homes in the suburbs to the city centre. These services have been well received by commuters.
We have also continued to invest new buses. In the last two years, we have spent $140 million for 300 new buses. We have just placed another order for 400 new buses which will cost us an additional $145 million. We intend to increase the number of buses we operate to improve the service frequency of our buses and meet our obligations required under the new Quality of Service Standards.