Seniors and students who often take buses, trains urged to use cheaper monthly travel passes
19 Sep 2023
The Straits Times
SINGAPORE - Even as adult and concession card fares go up from Dec 23, the cost of monthly hybrid concession passes that can be used on both buses and trains will come down by up to 10 per cent.
The Public Transport Council (PTC) on Monday encouraged commuters in this group – including students, national servicemen and seniors – who travel frequently to buy monthly passes to cap their public transport expenses.
PTC chairwoman Janet Ang said the council hopes the lower prices “would encourage more heavy public transport users to consider purchasing a pass to help reduce their public transport costs by $4.50 to $9.50 per month”.
At a media conference to announce the fare adjustments on Monday, Ms Ang noted that there may not be enough awareness about the existence of adult monthly passes.
A monthly hybrid concession pass for low-wage workers – costing $32 less than an adult monthly travel pass – will also be rolled out on Dec 23.
About 60,000 commuters are expected to benefit from these changes. These include the 23,000 or so existing users of monthly passes as well as new users.
The hybrid passes allow unlimited travel on all modes of public transport, except express buses.
The new hybrid monthly concession pass for low-wage Workfare Transport Concession Scheme card holders will cost $96, 25 per cent cheaper than the adult monthly travel pass that they use now, which costs $128.
A spokesperson for the PTC said there are about 10,000 commuters who buy the adult monthly travel pass each month.
Apart from cheaper concession passes, public transport vouchers – each valued at $50 – will be given to eligible lower-income households to help them cope with the fare increases.
These are resident households with a monthly income not exceeding $1,600 per person. The vouchers can be used to top up fare cards or buy monthly passes.
The way that the vouchers will be given out would be similar to the 2022 exercise, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and People’s Association said in a joint statement.
Households that received the vouchers in 2022 and continue to meet the eligibility criteria will be notified automatically via letters that will be sent out by the end of December.
From early 2024, households that meet the criteria but did not get the vouchers in the first stage can apply for them online or at community clubs. Information on how to do so will be made public later.
The vouchers will be valid until March 31, 2025.
Applications for public transport vouchers under the 2022 fare review are open until Oct 31.
In 2022, 600,000 vouchers valued at $30 each were set aside for lower-income households.
Thus far, MOT said, about 300,000 households have collected the vouchers. Around 90 per cent of those collected have been redeemed.
Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Saktiandi Supaat said the new monthly hybrid concession pass announced on Monday would help low-wage workers who use public transport intensively.
“It will help them save on their monthly public transport expenses, leaving more income for other expenses for the family,” said Mr Saktiandi, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport.
Meanwhile, the cost of a monthly concession pass for people with disabilities will also go down from $64 to $58 to be on a par with that for seniors.
Mr Abhimanyau Pal, chief executive of charity SPD, which helps people with disabilities, welcomed the price reduction. He said it comes in the face of rising living costs.
He added that the move would encourage those with disabilities to continue taking part in community activities and lower the risk of community isolation.
“Moreover, it will also alleviate some of the financial burdens of persons with disabilities who may have higher medical expenses due to their conditions or require more frequent travel for their medical appointments.”
Associate Professor Walter Theseira, a transport economist at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, said the PTC’s move to keep concession fare increases and monthly pass prices down, while raising single-trip fares, may be a means of allowing for fare hikes without burdening those who rely on public transit heavily.
But not all commuters are planning to tap the monthly passes.
Catholic High School student Yoee Tay, 15, said the hybrid concession pass for secondary school children does not benefit students like him.
As he does not travel much beyond commuting to school, he believes he is unlikely to benefit from any cost savings by switching to a monthly pass.
Administrative manager Jenny Tab, 59, spends about $80 a month on public transport.
She said she is seriously thinking about getting a senior citizen monthly concession pass when she qualifies for one in 2024.
It will encourage her to travel without worrying about fares. “Since I would have already paid, I can go wherever I want. I can travel even more.”
Beatty Secondary School student Zhou Ruiyi, 15, who uses a monthly hybrid concession pass, said the new prices that take effect from Dec 23 mean she would save $60 a year on the passes.
“It is also convenient that I can switch between buses and trains for a fixed price.”
Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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