I refer to the article “$5.2 million lost to fare cheats on public transport in 2016” (Straits Times, Sep 10).

It states that “In the financial year ending March 31, there were 7,618 cases of cheating on public transport.

This is a 15 per cent drop from the 8,986 cases registered in the previous financial year, according to data from the Public Transport Council (PTC).

The cases included commuters not paying their fares, underpaying, or misusing concession passes and non-transferable tickets.

Since Feb 29 last year, the fine for those caught dodging or underpaying fares was more than doubled from $20 to $50. The $50 penalty also applies to those who misuse concession passes. The composition sum for the offences was also doubled from $50 to $100.

As to “The PTC said about 54 per cent of the cases were settled by fare evaders through payment of the penalty fee or composition sum.

“The remaining cases were resolved by waivers granted through appeals or escalated to court due to non-payment of the composition sum,” said its spokesman” – does this mean that about 46 per cent may have been so cash strapped that some couldn’t even afford to pay the fine of $50 or $100?

How many and what percentage of the cases ended up in court?

Does going to court mean a higher fine or jail if one is unable to pay?

The above may indicate that there may be quite a lot of people who may have to resort to cheating in transport fares – just to save a few cents.

Does this indicate that transport fares may not be affordable to some people?

In this connection, there were 69,800 unemployed residents as of June, and 125,900 residents earning a gross monthly income (including employer CPF contribution) of less than $1,000.

407,400 earn less than $1,500?

There were 407,400 residents (about 19.4 per cent of the total workforce of 2.1 million) whose median gross income was less than $1,500 monthly.

After CPF = less than $1,200?

If we deduct the maximum employee CPF contribution of 20 per cent – the net take-home pay may be less than $1,200.

Arguably, most of the 407,400 people with take-home pay of less than $1,200 may be struggling to make ends meet.

47,000 earn less than $500?

If we breakdown the 407,400 earning less than $1,500 into 47,000 earning less than $500, 125,900 earning less than $1,000 and 234,500 earning less than $1,500 – the financial stress that lower-income workers may be facing may be even worse.

No breakdown into S’poreans & PRs?

Moreover, since permanent residents (PRs) generally earn more than Singaporeans – I shudder to think what the above statistics may look like for Singaporeans.

There may also be more than half a million foreign workers also earning less than $1,000 a month.

“Of the 7,618 cases, 62 per cent involved non-payment, such as “tailgating” at fare gantries or not tapping in when boarding the bus.

Underpayment of fares, including commuters who tap out too early or underdeclare the distance they are travelling when paying with cash, accounted for 26 per cent. The remaining 12 per cent of fare evasion came from the misuse of concession cards. This included adults using a child’s concession card.”

By the way, how much did commuters lose when they were still charged fares whenever the MRT breaks down, as well as those who forgot to tap out and were charged the maximum fare?

Leong Sze Hian
A.S.S. Contributor

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