Fare increases needed but govt committed to affordable public transport system
Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew says fare increases are needed to improve service to commuters while keeping public transport operations commercially viable.
In a facebook post, Mr Lui says fare increases are not to boost the short term profits of Public Transport Operators ( PTOs ) or improve the salaries of bus drivers.
He says that's why the government must work with the PTOs to ensure that when granted any fare increase, they would re-invest part of this revenue to improve the public transport system to benefit commuters.
This can be in hardware, like more buses and trains and upgrading the signalling systems.
It can be in software, like better terms and salaries for staff.
That includes bus drivers and train operators, as well as the maintenance and service personnel.
Mr Lui says as fares increase, the Government will have to play a larger role to keep the public transport system affordable.
The Minister adds that there must be a concerted and sustained effort to upgrade the bus driving profession.
Employment terms and conditions must also be improved further to recruit new drivers and retain existing ones in order to ramp up bus capacity over the next few years.
On who pays for the increased costs, Mr Lui says there must be a proper balance among commuters in fares, or taxpayers in government subsidies, or the PTOs.
The Minister said the government is fully committed to an affordable public transport system, for the middle-income groups, the lower-income groups, the disabled community, and other vulnerable groups.
He said the bottom line is this.
It is a matter of all the stakeholders - the PTOs, the Government, and commuters coming together to ensure everyone enjoys a reliable, high-quality and affordable public transport system.