SBS Transit and SMRT Trains apply for fare increase
SBS and SMRT apply for fare increase The public transport operators have submitted applications for a fare increase which could see bus and train rides costing up to 7% more by year-end. PHOTO: ST FILE

Public transport operators have formally submitted applications for a fare increase which could see bus and train rides costing up to 7% more by year-end.

The Public Transport Council (PTC), a fare watchdog appointed by the Transport Ministry, said on 23 September that it had received applications from both SBS Transit and SMRT Trains. The applications are for increases to train fares.

Since buses are now contracted by the Government, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) collects fare revenue. The operators bid for routes and the winner is paid the sum it had bid for. The PTC said the LTA will 'submit information on the bus industry financials to help in the fare review process'.

Asked when the PTC would come to a decision on the latest annual fare revision, a spokesman would only say it will make an announcement in the last quarter. Both operators were coy when asked specifically if they had applied for the maximum 7% allowable in this year's revision formula.

SMRT Trains Chief Executive Lee Ling Wee said, "We support a 7% fare increase for high performance and sustainability of the rail service. In financial year 2019, SMRT Trains' maintenance-related expenditure accounted for 71% of rail fare revenue, up from 62% in 2018. Because of intensified and comprehensive maintenance efforts, total operating cost has exceeded fare revenue and is not sustainable."

SBS Transit Spokesman Tammy Tan said, "The cost of rail operations has been increasing due mainly to higher repairs and maintenance costs. As a result, SBS Transit has continued to incur rail losses despite the growth in ridership. It is hoped that an increase in fares will help mitigate some of these cost increases."

If a 7% increase is granted, bus and train fares are expected to go up by around $0.10 per ride.