Public Transport Council reviewing bus & train fare formula as costs go up by billions

With all that train line building, money's gotta come from somewhere.

By Jeanette Tan | March 7, 2018

It’s been said on many occasions before, and we all know it by now: the government is shelling out loads of money to build more train networks and to improve our MRT system.

Transport surges past Education as Budget 2018’s second-highest ministry expenditure

We’ll even be borrowing to fund the KL-Singapore High Speed Rail:

S’pore govt’s borrowing for the first time since 1980s for infrastructure projects

But the point is, much money will be spent in the coming years on expanding our rail network, upgrading existing and buying new trains, and so, as always, the money has to come from somewhere.

Plus, Khaw said on Wednesday in Parliament that our transport ministry has set a target of getting 75 per cent of peak period journeys in Singapore to be completed on public transport — it’s currently 67 per cent, with taxi rides included (broken down to 34 per cent by bus, 28 per cent by train and 5 per cent by taxis and private hire cars).

In his speech kicking off the Ministry of Transport’s responses to cuts in the ongoing Committee of Supply debates on Wednesday, he also touched on the tricky topic of fares — not really saying it, but pretty much hinting that they’re going to have to go up.

Review due this year

Now, the existing Public Transport fare formula, worked out by the Public Transport Council (PTC) once every five years, has expired.

Public transport fares have not kept up with rising operating costs, says Khaw Boon Wan

So… a new one will have to be designed, and the PTC is working on it right now. (By the way, for a quick rundown of what makes up our fare formula at this point, check this article out — there’s a very satisfying hotcake gif in there too, you won’t regret it:

If there’s one equation every S’porean needs to understand, it’s how public transport fares are calculated

And here’s some helpful context that will assure us with almost complete certainty that fares are going to rise:

1. What we are building

Khaw said in his speech that we’re building a lot more train stations and tracks in the coming decade — by 2030, he says, 8 out of 10 households in Singapore will be within a 10-minute walk of a train station, so we will have a total of 270 train stations and 360km of tracks.

And because he knows those numbers mean nothing to us, Khaw says our rail network will become more dense than New York and — get this — Tokyo.

2. How much we’ve been spending

At S$13.7 billion, the government’s projected spending on transport is its highest-ever, especially relative to all other ministries this year.

Khaw says that over the past five years, operating costs have increased by about 60 per cent, BUT fares have gone down by 2 per cent on the back of lower fuel prices (did you read that formula article we shared earlier? You’d understand why if you did).

Here’s a breakdown of what the government’s spending is going to look like on transport infrastructure in the next half-decade:

  • $5 billion on public bus services
  • $4 billion for upgrading of existing rail assets, and here’s the biggie:
  • $20 billion to build and expand our public transport network.

So yes, that’s in the works. And remember that many of us are taxpayers as well as public transport users. So pay a bit here, a bit there, can right?

Minister Khaw hopes to get our buy-in.

Top photo via Khaw Boon Wan’s Facebook page

About Jeanette Tan

Jeanette takes pride in her ability to sing the complete lyrics to Hakuna Matata and a host of other Disney songs. She holds out hope to someday be talent-spotted to do voice-overs for documentaries, lifts and automated telephone answering systems.

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