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PM says he’ll alleviate cost of living worries but PTC says transport operators can increase fares by 4.3%

During the National Day Rally last month (19 Aug), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said his government will do its part to help alleviate the worries of Singaporeans, as they continue to feel the squeeze from the rising cost of living.

"People still feel cost of living pressures," he said in his Chinese speech at the rally. "They sense that they have to spend more and that their earnings never seem to be quite enough."

He said the Government is looking at housing, education and healthcare costs "very closely" given that these major expenditure items are the top concerns among Singaporeans, especially young families and the sandwiched generation.

"We will make sure that HDB housing, healthcare and education are affordable so Singaporeans do not have to worry about them."

He also said measures are in place to allay worries related to the rise in water and electricity prices, but added that Singaporeans also have a responsibility to "look after (their) own wallets".

He did not mention anything about moderating transportation cost at the rally.

PTC signals public transport operators that they can increase fares up to 4.3% for this year

The Public Transport Council (PTC) has just announced on Monday (3 Sept) that for the 2018 fare review exercise, it is allowing public transport operators to increase their fares by up to 4.3%.

PTC said that this figure was based on the new fare formula. It also said that it took into account the "carry-over quantum of -3.2%" from last year's fare review exercise.

The public transport operators may submit their fare applications to the PTC before the end of the month for its consideration.

"The PTC has reduced fares by a total of 8.3% for the previous three consecutive years, largely due to the continued double-digit dip in energy prices. Energy prices in 2017, which will be factored in the fare formula this year, rebounded by 26.2% over the previous year. The other macroeconomic price indices in the fare formula have also increased over the past year," PTC said.

"The Wage Index, a proxy for the wage growth of public transport workers like bus captains and rail staff went up by 3%, while the core Consumer Price Index rose by 1.5%, the highest increase in three years."

"The Network Capacity Factor (NCF) of 3% balances commuter demand and public transport capacity enhancements and reflects the effort to provide commuters with more convenient and less crowded rides over the last year. More than two-thirds of the NCF was contributed by bus capacity improvements," it noted.

After the public transport operators have submitted their fare applications this month, PTC said it will announce its final decision on the fare adjustment quantum in the last quarter of this year.

"The PTC will continue to keep public transport fares affordable to commuters, while ensuring that the public transport system remains financially sustainable," it said.

It's not known what other costs would be increasing soon despite PM Lee's "assurance" that he will alleviate Singaporeans' worries over the cost of living.