SINGAPORE: Affordability was a concern brought up by commuters at focus group discussions organised by the Fare Review Mechanism Committee.
Participants included students, young adults, working adults, homemakers, grassroots activists, voluntary welfare organisations, union leaders and senior citizens.
Committee Chair Richard Magnus in a blog post said most of them felt that the public transport fares are generally affordable to the average Singaporean.
However, they recognised that fare increases have an uneven impact on different groups of Singaporeans, especially on the low—income groups.
Mr Magnus said his committee shares the same sentiment and thinks that more can be done to help the low—income cope with the increases.
He said he was also struck by how balanced the views of the commuters were.
Quite a number of participants accepted the need for fare increases, as this was necessary to keep pace with general costs increases.
More importantly, they felt it also enables the public transport operators to give appropriate wage increases for their bus captains, train operators, mechanics, and other service staff.
A few participants also noted that the operators have been affected by steep increases in energy costs in recent years.
On the fare formula, Mr Magnus said the Committee feels that the price—cap approach and the productivity component, should be retained, as these preserve incentives for the operators to be cost—efficient in their operations.
The Committee is also looking very carefully at other refinements to the formula to better reflect the operators’ cost structures.
On another note, Mr Magnus said some participants gave the Committee a timely reminder to explain the fare formula in a manner that is easier for the public to understand.
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