SINGAPORE: The government is monitoring the financials of the bus sector closely and will explore assistive measures if needed.
Speaking in Parliament, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said the form of the revenue assistance is to be decided.
Mr Lui noted that against the backdrop of worsening bus industry financials, it will be challenging for operators to do more to expand and enhance bus services without additional assistance.
He noted that operating costs have gone up — diesel prices have gone up by about 55 per cent and national wages by over 25 per cent from 2006 to 2011, while fares increased cumulatively by only 0.3 per cent over the same period.
He said: "As privatised operators, our PTOs (public transport operators) are incentivised to keep costs down and improve productivity, and also develop new revenue sources such as rental and advertising which help to defray operating costs. More importantly, non—fare revenue helps to reduce the need for fare increases. This has allowed commuters in Singapore to continue to pay fares that are among the lowest across major cities."
Mr Lui said there needs to be a balance where the public transport system remains financially viable for our PTOs, but fares are kept affordable for all commuters.
On the calls by several Members of Parliament to freeze transport fare, Mr Lui said this has to be considered together with the additional task of studying the affordability of public transport fares by the Fare Review Mechanism Committee.
Whatever fare formula is proposed, we must safeguard commuter interest in affordable public transport fares, while balancing against the very real financial pressures faced by the PTOs.
The committee’s report is likely to be released around the middle of this year.
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