Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 12/07/2012 11:45 | By Channel NewsAsia

Public transport fare review to factor in bus drivers’ wage increase

YOUR SAY: What do you think of Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew's latest proposal?

Public transport fare review to take into account bus drivers’ wage increase

SINGAPORE: Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said on Thursday public transport fare review, due next year, will take into account the need to raise bus drivers’ wages.

Mr Lui was speaking for the first time in the aftermath of the illegal strike by bus drivers from China last week, and said public transport cost increases over the years have outpaced fare adjustments.

He was trying out the route of a new service on Thursday under the government’s billion—dollar Bus Service Enhancement Programme.

Mr Lui said the 34 Chinese bus drivers out of work from SMRT due to the strike make up only about 0.5 per cent of the total pool of 8,000—odd drivers.

Therefore, the impact on bus enhancements should be minimal.

What’s of concern, however, is the lingering effect of the strike on recruitment and retention of bus drivers, and Mr Lui said the government is watching this carefully.

Looking at public transport fare adjustments of past years, Mr Lui said while fares have increased by 0.3 per cent, costs in fuel and wages for instance have gone up by 30 per cent.

He said the fare review committee recognises this "significant mismatch".

Mr Lui said: "Any fare adjustment will allow the two operators to have more resources, in time to come, to make further salary adjustments to their drivers. We recognise that the drivers need to be paid more. (The) question is, where is that money coming from?

"So we need to see the relationship between any fare adjustment, wage increase, and any other forms of government support that we might be required to give to the operators."

Mr Lui said it is difficult to wean dependence off foreign bus drivers as Singaporeans may not want to take up the job.

So salary adjustments, at least, will make the occupation more attractive to locals.

He said previous salary adjustments have helped to increase the recruitment of drivers, both local and foreign.

When asked whether SMRT should face any penalty as a result of the strike, Mr Lui said the operator will be evaluated according to quality of service standards.

Impact on bus services as a result of the two—day strike will be taken into account.

Mr Lui said he also spoke to SMRT’s Chief Executive Desmond Kuek on the strike, and said the organisation needs to improve in many areas.

He said Mr Kuek needs to be given time to turn things around.

— CNA/de

HAVE YOUR SAY: What do you think of Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew's latest proposal? Sign in with your Windows Live/ Hotmail ID below, and share your thoughts and suggestions with us now!

Dec 6, 2012 11:23PM

WHY keep asking the consumers to pay when the bulk of them are low or middle income earners. He should be asking the management to find ways to cut cost. For instance.....trim the bulk of directors pay and bonuses many senior managers but what are most of them doing (their duties) i can assure you, there are alot of redundancy here. This is a simple buisness.... you just need a group of core workers like maintenance guys, bus drivers,taxi operators, train operators, accountants, admin workers and a smart  boss, thats all. Dont make the business too complicated that you can't handlle.

Dec 6, 2012 11:43PM
Why should the consumers be paying for SMRT's mismanagement. Theyshould instead cut the managements salary and give it to those workers who can work that deserves better.

Minister Lui, why can't SMRT and SBS Transit live with less profits or be nationalised and become not-for-profit organisations?  Why must the cost of increasing drivers' pay be totally passed on to commuters?


Dec 7, 2012 1:57AM
I believe the Minister for Transport can and has to come up with a better solution than to pass the cost to the commuters. Your kind of proposal can be thought up by any ordinary person but you are not any ordinary person.  

The Chinese bus drivers strike looks similar to what had happened with the SMRT trains break-downs not too long ago - all due to incompetency in managing and maintaining the train works then and now it is happening with human resource.

Dec 7, 2012 2:20AM

I dont mind to pay more if the bus operators are not earning any profit. The fact is both SMRT and SBS Transits are making a profit. Why cant the increment be paid from the profit?


Is it because these companies are public listed and hence shareholder will not be happy? If so, pse nationalised these companies!

Dec 7, 2012 1:20AM

what kind of nonsense is this and why should we be paying for their salary increase??? when they protest, we have to pay for their salary increase so are we suppose to go on strike as well if we want a pay increase and who is going to pay for our pay increase???

Dec 7, 2012 12:19AM
A simple re-alignment of the top management pay and bonus would suffice the pittance increase in pay for the drivers. It seems the management and the authorities are always looking at a problem and profit from it.
Dec 7, 2012 3:27AM
Mr Lui, as a minister, we as Singaporeans expect you t think out of the box.  Is this the best proposal you can have? Taxi drivers not happy, increase the fare.  Bus driver not happy, increase the fare.  Road too congested, increase the fare (ERP).  How about letting the bus companies to cut the cost from the top, have one less manager and his/her salary can be distributed the bus drivers and increase their salaries by leaps and bounds.  Take a look at their procurements, are they taking advantage of economies of scale.  Since buses are essential public transport, can the government step in and subsidise and defray some of the cost.  Better still can we nationalised the bus companies, so that they do not need to answer to the profits for the share holders, but to Singaporean at large?
Dec 7, 2012 7:47AM
I think this proposal is simply redundant and ridiculous. Why should we pay more? If it's using our money to pay for their pay, aren't we hiring them to drive the bus? Then what's the purpose of SBS and SMRT? To gain and earn commission from this? *laughs* We can just hire our own driver to drive us around.

The company doesn't earn profits? Why can't they use their own profits to pay for their pay?

I'm okay with the increase if it comes with good quality, but I am paying for a lousy quality. So, why should I?

I got a feeling that they are using the strike as a platform to increase the transport fares. They may have decided to increase long ago.

COE is already rising, we can forget about getting a car. People, please go and buy a bicycle in advance to cycle, just the case the price of the bicycle increases too.

Above said are all opinions and thoughts.

Dec 7, 2012 11:28AM
$119 million profit for financial year 2012 is not enough? How about sharing that with the people who make your company work and stop penalizing us poor commuters, many of whom not only never received increments in salary but had their salaries and bonuses frozen. But we still have to travel to work every day. What are we, your serfs?
Dec 7, 2012 2:46AM
we singaporean are not given pay increase why must give foreigner workers and make us paid for them??? everytime this peoples not happy with their pay they will strike and next things increased theirs wages how about us singaporean do we have to strike like them to get increment..????
Dec 7, 2012 11:58AM

SMRT increased the wages of 400 odd chinese workers back only $25 per month, that only cost SMRT about $10,000 per month.


With an average of 2 million bus rides per day, even a 10 cent fare hike would bring in $200,000 per day or $6,000,000 more profit per month.


The former CEO of SMRT took home about $1,840,000 in 2011, that is about the annual income of 90 to 100 bus drivers.


And now Govt want to increase the fares to help to improve the income of the bus drivers, the govt should first control the "legal corruption" through high pay & bonuses of the top managements.

Dec 7, 2012 5:51AM
Does a company quote a higher price to their customers more in order to increase their workers pay? No, because they will lose their customers. SMRT will never lose customers, this is exploitation.
Dec 10, 2012 12:00AM

By increasing fares that cannot solve the root cause of the problem, but many time when this type of problems happens the only solution for this minister is to increase price across the board for all problem, example; ERP charges, Extra charges for Taxi to airport, etc. Why no pay deduction for those office CEO and minister.  Public transportation, Health cares, Housing, Utilities, etc. should be taken care by the Government as these is the basic needs for the citizens, it should not privatised to made monies for the shareholders and generate revenue , it should operate as a non profit organisation with heavy subsidies from the government, this I call it a good government.

Dec 7, 2012 7:58AM
Adding on, he mentioned "while fares have increased by 0.3 per cent, costs in fuel and wages for instance have gone up by 30 per cent"

Me myself is a polytechnic student, i'm already not entitled to the student fare, as they said we are considered tertiary, is an adult and is classified with the university, for this i'm already unhappy with it.

And now, he said there's a mis-match in the wages and the fares, did he even think about the students' population? I'm still schooling and already paying more fees and unfair fares (not considered student fare). I'm not even working, i don't have a source of income.

And, the increase of wages, did he forgot one important thing, inflation? You have to pay more as compared to last time to buy the same time, obviously there is a need to increase the wages. Hence, the wages can't even be used as an issue to increase the fares.
Dec 7, 2012 3:27AM

well minister all these deep-seated issues mentioned by desmond kuek r accumulated over yr under saw so how it feel to clean someone **** left behind

b4 u agreed to raise fare again do ask we taxpayers opinion=pls dont forget we also like u ="lang lang" have to foot bill 4 pto esp smrt 1.9b plus another 450m to clean smrt ****

Dec 7, 2012 3:38AM

wage increasement will be factor into fare raise=meaning???

guys mr lui is telling us whatever wages increasement to drivers n all expenses n costs incurred to settle this strike we taxpayers will foot the bill in next yr fare adjustment=so now beside cleaning smrt backsi@@ the they left behind with 1.9m n 450m for smrt we still need to pay all costs n wage for smrt=fair??? just????

Dec 7, 2012 3:32AM

until now i think sporeans r still waiting for an answer to the smrt dec saga n who is the one should hold responsibilty??? that court hearing r just loud thunder no rain

people like saw r walking away free n kept all bonuses n pay =even this strike the root is going back to saw time as ceo=in 2009-2010 hundred china drivers complained abt bad housing but saw used sweet to stop them from complaining=true???

Dec 7, 2012 12:12PM
Why should the public be "penalised" for the mis-management of SMRT? Recently there has been lots of problems with SMRT be it MRT, Circle Line and now buses. Shouldn't the management share in these problems. Seems like they only take the good things and leave the ugly side for the public. The shareholders should chip in with the problem. They can most definitely do with less bonuses and nothing drastic will happen but to increase the fare and expect some really poor commuters to chip in with the problem -- hey I think something is wrong somewhere!!! Our "talented" ministers should come out with better ideas since they are so highly paid (with bonuses again}. Afterall the Government had already pumped in millions of taxpayer's money to buy buses and the profits gained by shareholders. And now this -- something drastic will happen to S'pore if this sort of trend continues.Anyway, the expansion plan of SMRT is not controllable by the commuters. If one day SMRT's head got bigger and come out with a grand elaborate plan, do the commuters have to suffer the same fate to contribute and contribute and contribute until it dries up.
Dec 7, 2012 9:59AM

I dont know.......whose is in charge of SMRT......the transport minister or the ceo????


First off.....(maybe off topic here)

I dont know is it intended or simply bo chap that the COE prices are soaring.....

Please take out some redundant traffic lights... you dont need a few traffic lights within 200 meters.

Please as a transport minister do take these public transport during the peak times and off peak times and as often as possible on your own without letting anybody know ...have you watch undercover boss.

A suggestion ,,, please remove or change the policy about the yellow bus lane. What works well for overseas doesnt really mean it will work here. There are a few instances where accident happens because of this. An officer taking pictures of a vehicle entering the yellow bus lane, the driver saw it and quickly swirl out, but on coming vehicles too late to slow down, bang, accident happens. Worst it has only 2 lanes, so one yellow bus lane with the officer and the camera and the other lane is the accident so what happens, no cars can pass thru. Please minster, tweak the yellow bus lane. Ask feedback from the commuters and drivers do you think its really feasible.

Singapore is a small country, but somehow i can take up 40 minutes to an hour to travel from one place to another. One real culprit is the traffic lights. Its good to have them but too many becomes a burden. Please consider.

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