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Transport costs higher than most cities, after factoring minimum wage and cost of living

The Public Transport Council’s 7% fare hike for bus and train services has ignited concerns among Singaporeans, especially considering its potential strain on lower-income households.

While Singapore’s adult monthly pass might seem reasonable on a global scale, it’s essential to weigh it against disposable income.

With no minimum wage in Singapore, the increased fares could mean certain families spend up to 17.2% of their take-home pay on transportation.



by Leong Sze Hian

The announcement from the Public Transport Council (PTC) regarding the 7% increase in bus and train fares has stirred concerns among Singaporeans.

Effective from December 23, this fare hike is notably higher than last year’s adjustment. To truly grasp its implications, we must analyze the figures and their potential ramifications on Singaporean families.

At first glance, an increment of 10 to 11 cents per journey may appear minor. However, for daily commuters, this amounts to an added expenditure over the month.

Furthermore, the looming possibility of even steeper fare hikes in future adds to these financial anxieties.

When we examine Singapore’s adult monthly pass priced at S$128 in relation to its counterparts in global cities such as Taipei, Paris, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London, the results are telling.

Although Singapore’s pass offers a more economical option than London‘s, it remains pricier than other cities mentioned.

However, it’s paramount to consider these figures against disposable income, rather than making straightforward comparisons.

The absence of a minimum wage in Singapore, juxtaposed against established minimum wages in cities like Taipei, Paris, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London, provides a contrasting backdrop.

Thus, the ramifications of this hike on Singapore’s lower-income households warrant deeper scrutiny.

While PTC’s data suggests the proportion of household income allocated to transportation remains consistent for “average” and “lower-income” households, this can be somewhat deceptive. For illustration, consider a household earning $3,999.

Factoring in the new rates, their estimated public transport costs—for two low-wage adults, two university students, and two senior parents—could potentially constitute 17.2% of their take-home pay. This is significantly above the 1.7%-2.4% average for most households.

Here’s the breakdown:

Estimated monthly transport cost for the family: $470 ([$96 x 2 for low-wage adults] + [$81 x 2 for university students] + [$58 x 2 for senior parents]).

Estimated take-home pay for a household with a $3,999 income, after deducting the typical 37% Central Provident Fund contribution: approximately $2,734.

Proportion of income spent on transport: $470 ÷ $2,734 = 17.2%.

While measures like the Public Transport Fund, offering transport vouchers, are commendable, one wonders if a $50 voucher per household truly alleviates the intensified financial pressure resulting from rising fares.

In essence, the PTC’s fare revision, while possibly justified by surging operational expenses and other economic determinants, undoubtedly burdens Singaporean families, particularly those earning less.

As Singapore marches forward, it’s crucial that fundamental services like public transport remain both accessible and reasonably priced for all.

For numerous families, every penny is crucial, necessitating policy decisions that recognize and address their multifaceted challenges.

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duh? going green was a also a huge mistake, which increased fuel prices.

despite of installing solar panels on top of HDB block the electrivcity tariffs are going up… this is th emost stupid country i ever seen . the solar panels shuld be offsetting power draw during the day time and its also the lowest usage during daytime as most people are out working.

There should be a detailed analysis presented by independent experts as to the operational costs over the years, what it entails. Zero analysis except a statement that Operational costs have shot up. I do not see an abundance of Bus or MRT staff. Facilities are under taxpayers money. Billions are being given to help low income families. Surely, a few billions can be given to tide over energy costs. I cannot see how complicated is the analysis.

In the words of KJ, you deserved the government you got so don’t complain.
You had the chance to make a change but sillyporeans suffer from acute Stockholm syndrome.

The difference in public transport service in Singapore, compared to other East Asian capitals like Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei is night and day. Yes, from the outset, public transport in Singapore is “cheaper.” But do any of these countries or cities mark-up the cost of cars by 3 times? Do they have a system similar to COE, that rakes in billions of dollars? You would also find that the companies running the metros and bus services there are wholly private and have to maintain everything at their own expense. Meanwhile in Singapore, LTA now maintains track infrastructure. Taxpayers pay for the… Read more »

Harimau says: Eat Fish if Chicken is Expensive.

How about productivity of transport operators – every dollar or unit of equipment and labour spent derives how much of productivity returns in unit and dollar?

It’s strange talking about rising costs – when trains are from China, presumably cheaper, and majority bus drivers are Msians, PRC’s et al also presumably cheaper.

As usual, a “reward” after every election for the super mandate given.
Juz wondering what the “reward” will be after the next GE …

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Go Singapore—— yet another increase.
Every other country fights Inflation.
Here they create a monopoly for every Necessary Item & Increase The Prices.
Salary’s remain the same for ordinary people.

By now our pineapple in the Istana is ripe for cutting for consumption. I ask the 70%, we are paying $10million for this pineapple, will this be the same as Milo?

I reckon all those narrative before the election are all forgotten! Just waiting for the next NDP!

Mini star no work also got salary. Where to find this kind of job?

Pappies jobs is to just increase prices, increase cost of living, this kind of job where to find? tsk tsk tsk

Well done pineapple lovers !
What do you think?

Why is it the govt and corporates never decrease expenditure but only increase and pass the increase to the Public ? It shows that those from top tertiary education institutions do not have the skills to apply their acquired knowledge in the Public field with the consideration of household budgets etc. Maybe those from the poly or just A levels might be able to address these costs in a more common sense approach. The elites are failures in governance.

Nice…the World First Class City, why not?! Com’on hit the GST to 12% in tandem with most Top Class Cities after all, what Singapore gonna loose save the pathetic begging lowly classed citizens!


Aiya don’t need to care one. 86% voted against Change