Fares for bus and train rides will go up by 2.8%, or about 2 and 5 cents per trip from 5 April 2015, the Public Transport Council announced on Wednesday, 21 January.
Student concessionary fares will also increase by 1 cent, but senior citizen fares and prices for existing travel concessions will remain the same.
In a posting on his Facebook page, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew commended the PTC for the increase, as it has "achieved a good balance between keeping fares affordable for Singaporeans and maintaining the viability and sustainability of our public transport system."
Mr Lui also highlight that 1.1 mission communters will not experience an increase and that the government, as per last year, will issue 250,000 public transport vouchers of $30 each to help needy commuters.
Mr Lui's Facebook posting in full:
Looking at the overall outcome of this year’s fare adjustment exercise, I believe the Public Transport Council (PTC) has achieved a good balance between keeping fares affordable for Singaporeans and maintaining the viability and sustainability of our public transport system.
I am pleased that more than 1.1 million commuters will not experience a fare increase. In particular, the more vulnerable groups like senior citizens, lower-wage workers and persons with disabilities as well as students and adults using the monthly concession passes will not be affected.
I think the Off-peak Monthly travel Pass can boost our efforts to further encourage commuters whose travel patterns are more flexible to travel off-peak. If we can shift an additional amount of travel to outside the peak period, everyone will enjoy a more comfortable journey. Better still, commuters who purchase this new pass will enjoy a reduction in their travel expenditure.
As was the practice last year, we will again provide 250,000 public transport vouchers of $30 each to help needy commuters. This year, we aim to simplify the application process further. We also have other plans on the meaningful use of the Public Transport Fund and I will share these with you when we are ready.
Finally, let me thank the Chairman and members of the PTC for undertaking this tough assignment and for their thoughtful deliberations. It is not an easy responsibility, but I think they have got the balance about right. I think that the PTC will find the next fare exercise in 2015 much easier to deal with.
However, Mr Lui's announcement drew the ire of many online commentators, including some 200 comments on his own Facebook page. Many highlighted that the increase was unreasonable, as oil prices have fallen.
"Didn't the Transport Minister says earlier that "the important thing is regular fare increase"? So here we are another increase despite the fact that oil prices have dropped 50%. Uniquely Singapore."
"I hate to say this but I am very disappointed to see that the fare hike was allowed despite such objections from the citizens... despite fuel prices falling to as much as 50%... This only exhibited that you don't care about what the citizens feel... You are not fit to represent the citizens...."
"crude oil prices have declined since July 14 and continues to yet fares can only be adjusted at the END of 2015. your logic is deafening LOUD."
"Lui Tuck Yew are you ok or not? Oil price drop below USD 50 and you still got the cheek to allow the fare increase. Are you using you little brain or something else. In my humble opinion I dun see that you have the capacity to be in office."
"Kindly give us a valid explaination why the fares are increasing again!!! Oil price dropping, MRT still breaks down often and cabin is forever packed as usual."
Others have also highlighted flaws in the government's policy on managing transport issues.
"Pardon me for my rudeness sir but my colleagues and I are very angry and disgusted with the fare hike and off peak travel concession scheme. Peak hours from 6.30 to 9am? Are you kidding me? And travel outside peak hours still must pay $80 for a concession card? What's the use of unlimited travels? We are traveling to work and not for sightseeing."
"As a young Singaporean, I have tried to understand the government s push for a high coe to curb car population and prevent congestion on the roads. I have told people that we need to change our mindsets to owning cars for the greater good of the country. But I cannot accept the constant hikes in public transport fares in tandem with your coe and erp increase. What kind of message are you trying to send to the people? Are you trying to dissuade car usage and promote usage of public transports? Or are you simply trying to squeeze our pockets dry? Public transport is a public good just like education. It is essential for any economy to thrive. You do not run public goods for profits!"
" I don't think a PTC is even needed, just increase transportation fare annually regardless of the economy situation."
"Why do you have to listen to the PTC? You are the Transport Minister and you have every right to reject their proposal.. What kind of Transport Minister are you? Yes man?"
"Have you tried taking the train during off peak? It's almost as crowded as peak period. At trains coming at miserable 5 - 6 minutes intervals. It's insane. The train timing is also not consistent coming late too early everyday."
"Public transport has always been profitable with regular fare increases. Despite these Government injected billions into the public transport after privatisation. It also partly re-nationalised public transport taking over all operating assets and making public transport companies just paid operators. Doesn't this mean that privatisation has failed, i.e., it was a mistake to have privatised public transport in the first place?"
"Dear minister.. I m not sure if the fare is really 'affordable' for Singaporeans.. I am also not sure how the work force can travel outside peak period.. I don't think the general public's interest has been safeguarded... Am seriously feeling disgusted with the fare hike."
"Pardon my rudeness but this is absolutely flawed and total bullshit for the increase in the bus fare. In the previous years, oil prices went up and hence increasing the fare already got us fed up. Now oil prices go down and you continue to increase the price. Your policies are totally flawed and i think its time for you to actually listen to your citizens or 2016 is the time when u see dissatisfaction among your citizens."
Some have decided that the next general election will provide relief.
"As a young singaporean who is now eligible for voting the next time elections swing around, I'm just here to say how utterly disgusted how this entire nation has now just been transformed into a money hungry, money grabbing one. I for one do think ministers such as yourself have grown too disconnected with the non ministerial pay style of life. This coupled with other recent storms your party has kicked up, I hope you guys won;t be too surprised at your slipping power at the next election. I for one am more inclined to do so, despite your authoritarian methods of keeping votes."
"tuck yew! you have signed off your own fate in the next elections."
"U r the most useless and incompetent minister singapore has ever seen. We are all so very angry. Cant wait to sack you at the next election."