Photo of Walter Theseira from CNA

According to the Public Transport Council Chairman Richard Magus, the coming fare revision will be “affordable”, and so is the new revised fare calculation formula, he claimed. However, state media Straits Times wrote that the PTC chairman has hinted a fare increase:

“Service improvements come at a cost. There will need to be equitable cost sharing among commuters, taxpayers and public transport operators.”

State media TodayOnline interviewed several right-wing academic to support the Public Transport Council. Self-styled as “transport analyst”, Singapore University of Social Science (SUSS)’s right-wing economist Walter Theseira claimed that the existing fare formula do not create over-profiteering from the monopoly:

“While the existing fare formula is designed to regulate public transport operators and ensure that they do not make excessive profits from their monopoly. The new formula would shift its focus to distributing the cost of public transport between the commuter and the general taxpayer, and provide a visible price signal of the real costs of using public transport services.”

The right-wing economist then said that “world-class public transport” are improvements that are not “free”:

“The costs explicitly to the real costs of providing world-class transport would give commuters transparency on system costs and subsidies, and show them that improvements are not free.”

Walter Theseira then said that Singapore commuters should pay more for “long term investments”:

“Tweak the formula by incorporating new variables, such as real long-run operating costs. Such costs could include the capital investments in MRT lines and refurbishments, as well as in bus depots and buses, and the changes in operating costs resulting from offering a greater quantity and quality of services.”

Walter Theseira then argued that the new fare does not have to keep track of the current cost of living and said that if Singaporeans want cheaper fares, they have to sacrifice for poorer quality:

“A formula is not sustainable  since public transport costs do not logically have to keep pace with the cost of living. If the public demands higher quality public transport, costs must go up  … Likewise, if the public accepts a generally lower quality of service, costs will fall — although this seems unlikely given that higher incomes mean our expectations are much higher.”

Other right-wing economists also agree with National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der-Horng, saying that passenger satisfaction is hard to quantify.

Singapore Management University “transport expert” Terence Fan said:

“Since commuters are now enjoying better public transport services on the whole, one could argue that they ought to chip in by paying for at least a part of that improvement in services.”

SUSS “transport expert” Park Byung Joon also agreed saying:

“In ensuring that fares remain affordable, the authorities will have to engage in a difficult balancing act when it comes to deciding how much taxpayers and commuters have to pay.”