Dear A.S.S. Editor

I recently came across an article on SmartLocal on 10 legal ways to beat the MRT fare system. One of the ways listed is using the public toilet at Bugis MRT which is one of the few, if not the only station that does not require commuters to tap out to use the toilet.

As we know tapping out of an MRT station would mean when we tap back in we have to pay a fresh fare for the remainder of our journey instead of travelling on a “transfer” fare, with exception to Newton station where there is a 15 minute grace period applicable if only one is transferring from the Red line to the Blue line or vice versa. And I think this raises the question of profiteering in the fare structure and system.

Because if a commuter were to travel from Novena to Orchard MRT for instance (which are 2 stations apart) one would need to pay between $0.70-$0.80/$0.90. But if one has to urgently use the toilet at Newton Station and taps back in to continue his/her journey to Orchard his/her fare would add up to an estimated cost of $1.40. In short SMRT would be making on average a minimum of 50% profit on the commuter just for using the toilet. And even if one manages to beat the 15 mins grace period to tap in to the Blue line to continue the journey to Orchard, it would mean a circular route will have to be used which would lead to travel fares of at least $1 or more, again a minimum of $0.30 profit by SBS/SMRT just for using the toilet.

Why do I call this profiteering in action? If SMRT/SBS are unable to build toilets in the tap-in area its understandable. But how can they explain why do they structure their fares in a way such that those who have to tap-out to use the toilet are not subjected to “transfer” fares and as such made to pay up to 2 times what is usually paid on a regular journey? It can be argued that these commuters can simply take the connecting bus from the MRT station, but the bulk of MRT commuters are working adults/NSFs who can’t afford this luxury of time and as such if an urgent use of toilet situation arises it would simply mean an extra $0.50-$0.70 is earned per toilet user.

Its time our fare structures for public transport deserve a review and we shall see if in the new stations on the Downtown Line this dirty trick is still in practice.

N Chan

A.S.S. Contributor

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