Recent Price Hikes Unfairly Penalizes The Poor

The Public Transport Council (PTC) announced on 3 Nov that bus and train fares in Singapore are set to increase. From 26 Dec, adult fares will increase by 3-4 cents depending on the journey length.

This is merely another of a series of price hikes in Singapore. Earlier this year, Tan See Leng shared that consumers may see a electricity price hike next year. Separately, Gan Kim Yong also warned that food prices are expected to increase in the upcoming months.

All these price hikes unfairly penalizes the poor

For the rich, 3-4 cents may not be much as it amounts to about $3 per month. Yet, for the poor, this could mean one less meal. Coupled with all the other fare hikes, this puts a strain even on the middle-income families, and even more so on those with lower income.

We are in the middle of a pandemic which has negatively affected the incomes of some of these families. Many Singaporeans, especially those in the service industries, lost their jobs. Hawkers had to close their stores for good.

The ones being affected most would be the essential and blue collar workers. This includes our healthcare staff and our hawkers. Not the white collar workers that get to work from home.

Hawker (Left), Nurse (Right)

Price hike due to drop in ridership?

Now that most white collared workers are working from home, the ridership on public transport has naturally fallen. Yet they use this to turn around and say that the demand is insufficient to match the rising costs.

‘a key consideration for this year’s fare review was the sharp plunge in public transport ridership last year.’

Public Transport Council

There are other things they could have done to mitigate cost increases. For one, they could have left the upgrading works for after the pandemic. With less people on the public transportation at this time, there is not as much need for 3-door buses. The need for USB ports on the buses is also questionable.

Three door bus (left), USB ports on bus (right)

Also, they should have extended more help to those greatly affected by such price hikes. Instead, they chose to tell Singaporeans to use less electricity. This is obviously a group of decision makers who are out of touch with the ground.