Helping with transport operators’ profits is more important than helping seniors?

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan had earlier said in Parliament on last Monday that Members of Parliament (MP) can offer financial assistance to senior citizens who face difficulties paying for public transport, after the off-peak pass for elderly commuters was scrapped.

According to Mr Khaw, the initiative was discontinued in December after shifting fewer than 200 of the monthly pass users to off-peak travel.

The Off-Peak Pass was priced at $80 for adults and $40 for people with disabilities and senior citizens while the Adult Monthly Travel Pass is priced at $120. As of Oct 2017, the off-peak pass scheme cost the LTA more than S$5 million since it was introduced in July 2015.

It was also reported that more than 65,000 commuters benefited from free or discounted travel by exiting at the 18 city stations before 8am on weekdays. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) spokesperson said, “More than 15,000 commuters have shifted from peak to off-peak travel daily — the equivalent of 10 trainloads of passengers.”

So where did Mr Khaw’s figure of 200 in 2018 come from?

Is “1 per cent” – 1,000 or 10,000 seniors who bought the pass?

According to the government’s, less than 1 percent of seniors who held concession cards had purchased the off-peak pass.

Why was the number of off-peak passes purchased not disclosed – instead of just saying less than 1 per cent of seniors who held concession cards had purchased the off-peak pass?

As I understand that there are about one million residents age 60 and above – does it mean that “1 per cent” may be about 10,000?

Which is more important? Helping 10,000 seniors to save on public transport, or helping the transport operators to earn more?

From the perspective of seniors who need the pass – the reasoning that only 200 shifted to off-peak is totally irrelevant, not to mention Mr Khaw’s figures conflicts with LTA’s earlier figures of 15,000.

Asking seniors to spend what may be typically hours to queue to see their MP at the weekly meet-the-people’s session, to “beg” for a few dollars for public transport, is not only beneath the dignity and respect which we should have for our seniors – but also nonsensical because the issue is not about not having enough money for public transport, but depriving them of a few much needed dollar savings on their daily commute.

The remarks in Parliament are downright insensitive and wreaks of a total lack of compassion.