Photo of Khaw Boon Wan from CNA

Government-owned public transport operator SMRT announced in a press release yesterday (Nov 27) that there will be no free train-replacement buses and that Singaporeans have to pay for shuttle bus services due to the closure of 19 MRT stations.

Singaporeans will also have to pay train fares for the slower shuttle bus services and longer waiting delay. SMRT promised that bus frequency will maintain at between 3 to 5 minutes during peak hours, and 5 to 10 minutes during off peak hours.

As train-replacement bus services should be meant to be free, every cent collected from commuters who took these services is counted as profits. SMRT is expected to make substantial profits amounting to an estimated S$10 million from the paid train-replacement bus services over a 6-month period.

17 East-West Line train stations from Tiong Bahru to Tuas Link, and 2 North-South Line stations, Bukit Batok and Bukit Gombak, will be affected until June 2018. The 19 stations will close earlier on Fridays and Saturdays at 11pm, and open later on weekends at 8am. These stations will also be closed on Dec 10 and Dec 17.

Singaporeans are also made to pay for the mistakes of SMRT when the Land Transport Authority earlier announced that taxes will be used to fund the additional buses required for the 19 stations.

Just a month ago, public transport fares were raised 4.2% despite the worsening state of rail reliability. The news of reduced operation hours also did not result a corresponding reduction in fares, which should be rightfully given to commuters.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan is unavailable for comment.