Formula for calculating train, bus fares may be adjusted: Public Transport Council

SINGAPORE – The way bus and train fares are calculated may be adjusted to reflect exigencies like a sustained drop in ridership seen during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This change may see the Network Capacity Factor (NCF), a measure of ridership against the network capacity, reduced or omitted when calculating fares next year.

In a statement on Friday (Sept 4), the Public Transport Council said: “The NCF, which was introduced in 2018, is not designed for such exceptional circumstances.”

“PTC will therefore conduct a mid-term review on how NCF ought to be applied, or whether it should be partially or totally excluded, when considering its effect on next year’s fare adjustment.”

It added that this review is timely to ensure that the fare adjustment formula remains relevant and responsive.

The current formula takes into account the NCF as well as inflation and energy prices, among other things. This formula will be in place until 2022.

During the pandemic, transport operators were badly hit with demand falling with the circuit breaker measures. Even now, ridership is at 60 per cent of the levels seen before the Covid-19 pandemic.

In April, the Land Transport Authority had reduced train and bus frequencies in response to the reduced demand. For example, train services were adjusted such that trains would arrive at stations every five minutes during peak hours.

But it increased the frequency, to have trains run every three minutes, after commuters complained of crowded trains following the move.

This was done to ensure commuters can maintain a safe distance from one another when on board trains and buses during the circuit breaker period.

On Friday, PTC chief executive Tan Kim Hong said that with demand flattening from the peak, “there is an opportunity that the supply can adjust to the demand”.

On the issue of lower ridership in the long term and whether operators can continue to run their business in a sustainable manner, PTC chairman Richard Magnus said: “The principle really is that there should be optimisation of the public transport system, bearing in mind the demand, supply and situation at that point of time.”

The council had on Friday announced that there would be no changes to public transport fares in light of the pandemic and its impact on the economy.

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