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Public Transport Council chairman tempers expectations for fare cuts
IN what is seen as a move to temper commuters' expectations, the comments of Richard Magnus, chairman of the Public Transport Council (PTC), in a blog entry on Monday suggested that fares would not be cut by 5.7 per cent, which is the maximum adjustment allowed under PTC's 2016 fare review exercise due to lower energy prices.
"I am thinking about the 2016 fare exercise. We are in a unique situation of having a fairly large negative quantum of 5.7 per cent. So it is no surprise that I have been asked if PTC will consider granting the full quantum for this exercise," he said.
He emphasised the need to strike a balance between restructuring in the public transport sector (including moving buses to the bus contracting model and SMRT's rail lines to the asset-light New Rail Financing Framework) and investing heavily into the rail systems to meet commuters' expectations for service delivery.
He added: "Energy prices remain volatile. While the fare reduction quantum reflects the sharp fall in energy prices over the last year, it may rebound sharply in the following years."
There was also the need to attract and retain public transport bus captains, and for maintenance, depot, systems and technical workers, he said. Collective agreements of bus captains and transport workers will expire at the end of this year and next, and the council is expecting negotiations for better remuneration.
The National Transport Workers Union has also expressed concern about the manpower crunch and high attrition of transport workers, and has asked for the fare adjustment to be moderated so that it can offer competitive pay packages to draw new recruits and retain existing staff, he said.