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Gerald Giam proposes overhaul of Singapore’s transport system to publicly-owned, non-profit entity

Workers’ Party MP Gerald Giam proposes a National Transport Corporation to combat the cost of living crisis by managing public transport as a non-profit entity focused on commuters’ well-being.



During Tuesday’s parliamentary session, Mr Gerald Giam, Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC, delivered a detailed speech supporting a motion, “Cost of Living Crisis” by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Pritam Singh, and Mr Louis Chua of Sengkang GRC, calling for a National Transport Corporation (NTC) to be established as a publicly-owned, non-profit land transport planner and operator of all MRT, LRT and trunk bus services.

“Singapore faces an undeniable upward trend in the cost of living, driven by factors such as global inflation, supply chain disruptions, escalating energy prices, and labour shortages,” Mr Giam explained, setting the stage for his argument that domestic policies are also exacerbating the financial burden on Singaporeans.

He further noted, “The PTC’s fare adjustment formula produced a whopping 22.6% fare increase, although the PTC chose to cap it at 7%.” Mr Giam illuminated the financial strain on the public through the 2023 Fare Review Exercise, which significantly increased the cost of public transportation despite a government subsidy.

Citing the profitability of public transport operators, Mr Giam stated, “Between 2011 and 2022, SMRT and SBS Transit have together posted profits averaging S$74.6 million a year, reaching S$110 million in the last financial year.”

He contrasted these figures with the fare hikes and subsidies, calling into question the efficiency and fairness of the current model.

In his critique, Mr Giam didn’t miss highlighting the effects on his constituents: “In the past three years, about 30 bus services have been shortened or removed. Such changes have affected my residents in Bedok Reservoir, who continue to voice their concerns to me about long wait times and crowded feeder bus rides to Bedok MRT station.”

Proposing an alternative, Mr Giam revisited the Workers’ Party’s 2006 proposal to establish a National Transport Corporation (NTC). He envisions the NTC as a “publicly-owned, non-profit, multi-modal land transport entity,” which he argues could redirect profits currently going to PTOs to benefit commuters instead.

“Such revenue could mitigate fare increases and subsidise transport for the elderly, people with disabilities and low-income households, directly addressing concerns about the cost of living,” he pointed out, underlining the direct benefits to the vulnerable demographics.

He suggested that this approach could result in more equitable fare adjustments: “Fare adjustments could be introduced progressively, avoiding abrupt changes during times of economic hardship,” thus cushioning the financial impact on commuters.

Mr Giam also touched on the potential for the NTC to leverage retail and commercial rents from transport hubs: “The NTC could manage bus interchanges, MRT and LRT stations, and their associated linkways, leveraging the rent from these prime retail and commercial areas to support its operations.”

Mr Giam said, “This new model will place the needs and well-being of our commuters at the heart of our transport policy,” offering a vision for a more efficient and commuter-centric public transport system.

On the nationalization of public transport, Chee Hong Tat, Acting Minister for Transport and Senior Minister of State for Finance, suggested that outcomes may differ without competition.

Mr Chee also asserted that transport companies’ earnings from advertising and overseas investments are separate matters. “In this debate, we should concentrate on numbers pertaining to fares,” he clarified.

However, in response to NCMP Hazel Poa of the Progress Singapore Party, who inquired about the inclusion of advertising revenue and rent in transport companies’ reported losses, Mr Chee implied that the companies are not profitable without providing a direct answer.

He emphasized that the government subsidizes transport to the order of S$1 billion annually. “I’m unsure of the advertising revenue Ms. Poa refers to, but if it could yield S$1 billion, I’d be keen to know,” he remarked.

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Well done Gerald Giam. Hope you win more seats come next elections.

Every night I sleep, I felt terrorize by all the price increases. Sigh.

Please help !!!

He’s proposing to remove one of the G’s golden goose?
Fat chance.

In the current Pappy context, the definition of non-profit organisation is not that the organisation do not make profit but is that profit at end of financial year will not be kept but distributed and shared among shareholders and management. They will think of ways to reduce or remove visible profit like creating sinking fund or whatsoever. If I remember correctly, the public transport company has sinking fund claiming that it is required for fleet renewal. But when fare increased, one of the claim is for fleet renewal. What WP proposal is for public good but will never be accepted… Read more »

Kudos WP. Keep them on their toes. They only think of increasing GST . Never an alternative but want to be Ministers.

Chee Hong Tat said in parliament that they do take care of Singaporeans, citing that some under-used bus routes are being continued. If the transport fare is not to be increased, then I may believe him. Otherwise it seem nonsense to be UNABLE to plan utilization of transport resources properly, knowing that they can just pass any INEFFICIENCY to the commuters. CHT got degree or not? The standards of the current million$ PM/ministers are really appalling – best in pay, worst in performance.

another sign how empty the state coffer is
i guess … it has been empty all the while?

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Time to employ elderly to work in garment sector. Avoid too many outsourcing. Not healthy for the jobless. What do you think?

Banks , IT companies please employ back Singaporeans. We need to train our Singaporeans to take over foreigners when they leave our country. What do you think?

Workers Party has the potential to lead Singapore in the future. Garment should use more reserves during this crisis to help all Singaporeans If importing foreigners create jobs, we should have this crisis? Now are all terrorize by the high cost of living and high food costs. What do you think? Should all the pappies take pay cuts? 70% Pineapple Lovers: This is GOOD FOR YOU: 1) Increase GST 2) Increase PUB utilities 3) Increase COE, ERP 4) Increase Food Prices 5) Increase Housing prices 6) Increase Cost of Living 7) Increase Transport fares 8) Increase Hospital and Medical costs… Read more »

Many members in PTC are not commuters but car owners and rich. And they adjusted the formula to milk easy money from the masses, especially the poor and working class from it. Adjusted once, not successful, adjusted again and again until the fares shot through the roof and many are suffering with high bus and MRT fares. Our North-South and East-West MRT lines have generated tonnes of profits over the decades but where are all the money gone to? Did all the profit centres, namely retail, Food and Beverage spaces, MRT and bus advertisement the money made is channeled to… Read more »

Heng Arh ………

ptc No longer had a hand on Taxi .

Non-profit entity?
Ah Giam father pay for the and fund the public transport system?
The ah Giam father also take from you, me and everyone that is the tax payers!
You want to pay 45% income tax?
No wonder Ah Tan said the truth!😆😆😆😆😆

Be the Gov of the day lah .

It will be better .

Many of our transport companies are significantly owned by Temasek Holdings. To form a National Transport Corporation (NTC) is to ask forgo all the dividends and profits that all these transport companies are generating for them. But of course in the name of efficiency and good use of resources, our 4G government will say competition is good hiding behind the fact that they are reaping all the benefits as a shareholder. SG is truly a corporation rather than a country and the people are just a number within that corporation. Hence no amount of feedback will change their way of… Read more »