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No Revision To Bus And Train Fares, And New NEL Fare Structure Approved

08 May 2003 News Releases

Annual Fare Review 2003

1.     The Public Transport Council (PTC) today announces that the fares for buses, MRT and LRT will not be revised this year.

2.     The public transport operators (PTOs), namely SMRT, Tibs and SBS Transit (SBST), have not applied for an increase in bus and train fares this year. The PTOs have decided to maintain the current fare level in view of the difficult economic situation. They have also assured PTC that this will not affect the existing service levels or their on-going efforts to improve services.

3.     Mr Eric Gwee, Chairman of the PTC said, "PTC is pleased that bus and train operators have demonstrated a high level of social responsibility by not asking for a fare increase in this poor economic environment. Many Singaporeans are currently facing adverse circumstances, with their livelihood further affected by the SARS outbreak. Capping public transport fares at their current levels will help Singaporeans tide over this tough period."

Fares for the New North-East MRT Line

4.     PTC also announces the new fare structure for the North-East MRT Line (NEL). The approved adult fares are 5-25 cents higher than the current MRT fares, or an average of 16.5 cents per ride. They are however 5-10 cents lower than those proposed by SBST. In addition, PTC has decided that the child/student fares on NEL will be the same as that on the existing MRT, and that existing transfer rebates will also apply to transfers between bus/LRT and NEL. Please refer to Annex A for the maximum NEL fares approved by PTC.

5.     PTC did not approve the following SBST proposals relating to child/student/NSmen concessions to safeguard the interest of these groups: to charge five cents more for Child/Student fares on NEL; and to increase the price of Student/NSmen Train Concession Passes by between $2 and $5.

Views of PTC

6.     SBST has argued that NEL, being a fully underground system with all its stations air-conditioned, will cost more to operate and maintain than a system that is only partially underground. For example, NEL will incur higher energy costs for air-conditioning and lighting. Higher maintenance and replacement costs will also be incurred due to all train stations being underground. These costs outweigh the potential cost savings from the reduced manning level of a fully automated system and the various cost control measures proposed by SBST.

7.     In approving the maximum NEL fares, the Council is guided by its mission to strike a fair balance between safeguarding the public interest and ensuring the long-term financial viability of the operator. After extensive deliberations and taking the diverse views into consideration, PTC concluded that the higher operating cost structure of NEL justifies a different fare structure. However, the Council has urged SBST to strive for greater productivity improvements and cost savings, so as to keep NEL fares affordable. NEL is expected to operate at a loss in its initial years of operations even with the approved fares.

8.     Mr Eric Gwee, Chairman of PTC said that,

"The NEL fares approved by PTC are the maximum amounts SBST is allowed to charge. In view of the depressed economic environment, the Council strongly encourages SBST to introduce special measures to lighten commuters' financial burdens in the interim. The Council is pleased that SBST has noted the Council's comments and has intention to introduce some upfront discounts. Because of its intrinsically higher operating costs, the approved NEL fares are unavoidably higher than existing MRT fares. The difference is on average 16.5 cents per ride. For adult fares, the difference amounts to between 5 and 25 cents.

A typical journey usually involves both the NEL and the existing rail system. In fact, the LTA estimates that only 25% of NEL trips are likely to be on NEL alone. As the majority of NEL commuters will be travelling between NEL and the existing system, it is more important to consider the fares that are payable for the entire journey. For this group of commuters, the average fare differential charged by NEL, as compared with SMRT fares, is about 13% of the total journey fare. Travel times for these journeys are however considerably shortened with the NEL. Please refer to Annex B for some examples of journeys involving NEL.

The Council hopes that SBST could explore innovative ways to increase the NEL ridership, such as attracting existing car users to ride on NEL. This will help to improve its financial performance and hence, avoid the need to revise the maximum fares in the near future. "

Key Features of the NEL Fare Structure

9.     Like the existing MRT fares, the NEL fares are based on distance travelled. However, the NEL fare structure has incorporated finer fare bands to leverage on the advanced capabilities of the ez-link system. For example, each band is only about 1 km on average for the first 8 km and subsequently about 2 km on average per band. This ensures that fares better reflect the distance travelled and avoids abrupt jumps between fare bands. This improvement is consistent with our approach towards a fairer and usage-based public transport fare structure.

10.   To ensure seamless travel on our entire train network, travel between NEL and the existing MRT will be charged as one single journey instead of two separate legs i.e. through fares will be charged. As a result, commuters will pay a maximum through fare of $1.94 when travelling between the furthest stations on NEL and the existing MRT (e.g. from Punggol to Marsiling or Pasir Ris). This is significantly lower than the $2.98 they would have to pay if separate fares, with transfer rebates, were charged. In addition, commuters boarding and alighting from the existing MRT stations will continue to pay the current MRT fares. These include those travelling between Outram Park and Dhoby Ghaut stations, regardless of whether they travel on NEL or SMRT.

Annex A

NEL Station-to-Station Fares

Annex B


Issued by: Public Transport Council
Date:8 May 2003