SINGAPORE: SBS and SMRT both reported higher profits this year.
So why will bus and train fares go up by more than ever before? asked a commuter in the United Singaporean Facebook Group.
Bus and train fares will go up by 11 cents from Dec 23. This is despite SBS Group reporting S$68 million profit attributable to shareholders in 2022, up from S$51.6 million in 2021, on S$1,515.3 million revenue, and SMRT Trains reporting S$42.5 million profit after tax in the financial year 2023, up from S$11.2 million in 2022, on S$813.2 million in revenue.
According to their annual reports, these are big, profitable companies, but they need to charge higher fares. That’s the view of industry observers.
The Public Transport Council, which regulates fares in Singapore, sanctioned a seven per cent increase. This is the highest fare hike since 2019, when fares increased by seven per cent, and commuters had to pay up to nine more cents.
But the transport operators this year wanted even more. They applied for a 22.6 per cent hike, citing higher energy prices, a competitive labour market, and a slow and uncertain recovery in ridership.
And they were eligible for a 22.6 per cent hike under the fare adjustment formula, said the Public Transport Council (PTC) in a news release. They could have got a 12 per cent hike this year because of rising energy prices, core inflation and strong wage growth in 2022. And they could have got an additional 10.6 per cent deferred from the 2022 fare review exercise when they were allowed only a 2.9 per cent hike.
But the PTC said it sanctioned a 7 per cent increase instead this year to keep “public transport fares affordable”.
More hikes to come
However, fares will go up again.
The PTC didn’t dismiss the operators’ demand for a 22.6 per cent fare increase. It merely deferred the hike.
This was confirmed by PTC chair ...