SINGAPORE: The committee tasked to review the fare mechanism for public transport has been given more time to come up with its recommendations.
The Fare Review Mechanism Committee (FRMC) was supposed to submit its report early this year but Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said it will now do so by end—May.
Mr Lui said he wants the committee to study the issue of affordable fares further —— particularly concessions for certain groups of commuters, including the low income, disabled and polytechnic students.
He said: "Take a look at the concessions that we offer today, and see what more could be done and they should make a recommendation on this area. So the FRMC has happily agreed to do this.
"It would mean that we would have to give them a bit more time, obviously, since this is an area that does deserve careful study and consideration."
Mr Lui said fares have generally become more affordable over the years, with salaries for most of the population going up faster than the increase in fares.
But he noted that such groups still have concerns.
He explained, "Generally, I think when you track affordability of the fares, we know that it has become more affordable over the years, in part because salaries have risen by—and—large for the population much faster than it has for fare increase.
"So fare increase was cumulatively ... 0.3 per cent over the last five or six years, and so when we look at the affordability curve, it has generally come down."
Operators, too, have been dealing with higher costs while being pushed to raise service levels for commuters.
Back in December 2012, Mr Lui said that "somebody has to pay for these costs" —— be it commuters in fares, taxpayers in government subsidies or the operator.
He also said a proper balance needs to be studied very carefully, adding that he would wait for the outcome of the report first, before giving more details.
Mr Lui said: "Basically, the money will have to come from somewhere. Who and how much they should bear —— that’s something for further discussion.
"I think it is the time when we would await the fare formula to come out, plus other recommendations that may come from the FRMC, ... then we’ll be in a much better position to start talking about these issues in greater detail."
There were no fare adjustments last year while the committee worked on a new fare formula.
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