Bus maneuvering into Punggol temporary bus interchange near residential apartments at Punggol Central, located adjacent to the Punggol MRT/LRT Station (Photo by Kae Lee from Shutterstock.com)

More than 150,000 applications received for Public Transport Vouchers

More than 150,000 applications have been received for this year’s Public Transport Voucher Exercise at the 108 community centres/clubs (CCs) island-wide, as at 12 December 2018.

The Ministry of Transport (MOT) shared on Monday that the Government has drawn $9 million from the Public Transport Fund to make available the largest number of Public Transport Vouchers in a single exercise – which started on 12 Nov – 300,000 Public Transport Vouchers worth $30 each to help needy families cope with the fare adjustment, which will take effect on 29 December 2018.

It is said that grassroots leaders have reached out to needy residents during regular house visits and community events, to share about the Public Transport Voucher Exercise and assist them with the application.

Mdm Selina Goh, 58, shared that the vouchers would be helpful in defraying part of her transportation cost. The part-time childcare relief teacher stays with her husband who works odd jobs, and takes trains or buses to her workplace or the wet market about five times a week.

“I do not enjoy the benefits of the Senior Citizen Concession Card as I am not 60 yet. As such, these vouchers from the government will be useful and help lower the transport cost for me,” she said.

According to the ministry, eligible households who meet the same income criteria as that for the ComCare Fund (i.e. household income of $1,900 or below, or per capital income of not more than $650) may apply for the Public Transport Voucher throughout the exercise, which ends on 31 October 2019. Upon successful application, each household will receive one Public Transport Voucher.

Households that require more help can apply for additional vouchers through the CCs. The Citizens’ Consultative Committees (CCCs) assess each application, and have the discretion to help deserving cases who marginally miss these criteria, or provide additional Public Transport Vouchers to households whom they deem to need more help.

The ministry noted that residents may approach their local CCs if they have any queries.

The increase of fares was earlier announced on 30 Oct by the PTC, which factored in a new component to the fare adjustment formula – the Network Capacity Factor (NCF) – taking into account the additional buses pumped into the network last year and the first stage of the Downtown MRT line.

Financial blogger, Leong Sze Hian argued that the fare hike is argueably the highest hike in Singapore history, given that a flat fee increase of six cents across all trips, with the lowest basic bus fare at 77 cents, making the increase is up to 7.8% (6 divided by 77 cents) for commuters who travel short distances on a daily basis. The actual increase of 11% after the change of NCF (7.8% + 3.2%) was masked by PTC’s decision to defer the 3.2% reduction which would have happened in 2017.