PTC: Fare hike and breakdowns are separate issues

While yesterday’s train delay led some people to comment that fares should not go up when trains are still breaking down, the Public Transport Council (PTC) has said that the two issues should be kept separate.

PTC chairman Gerard Ee said the raising of fares is to cover rising costs for operators SMRT and SBS Transit, even as he noted that service reliability has to improve. Staff and material costs have spiralled upwards even as operators have been trying to improve productivity in the past few months.

And while the operators are still profitable, he said their finances would need to be healthy to maintain service reliability. “They need to finance replacement and upgrading. The public may not appreciat that one bus cost about $400,000 and for trains, the costs go into millions.”

At a briefing on the signal fault that affected 19,000 North-South Line commuters yesterday, SMRT chief executive Desmond Kuek was also asked how the fare hike could be justified given train breakdowns.

He said his firm had applied for a fare increase “for the system to be sustainable”.

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