When questioned in Parliament why did the government raised elderly travel pass by 50%, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that if the old people have no money for public transport, they can approach PAP MPs for money.
“Members of Parliament (MP) can offer financial assistance to senior citizens who face difficulties paying for public transport, after the off-peak pass for elderly commuters was scrapped. When we know a particular resident has been inconvenienced because of this, and despite the various 25 per cent discounts and so on, could not still afford their transport fares, as a local MP we do chip in if I discover such cases.”
The former off-peak elderly pass was introduced in 2015 for the price of only S$40 a month, but it was scrapped last month and the elderly poor were told to apply for the monthly pass at S$60 a month.
Minister Khaw Boon Wan also added that the government has been giving a lot of subsidies to the elderly poor and disabled:
“Senior citizens and persons with disabilities currently receive a 25 per cent discount on adult fares. Furthermore, commuters who travel on the rail network before 7.45am also enjoy a fare discount of up to 50 cents.”
However, the Transport Minister was devious enough not to reveal that the before-7.45am travel was supposedly free until the government raise the price last year on 29 Dec 2017.
When questioned by Opposition NCMP Daniel Goh that isn’t it common sense that scrapping of the off-peak pass means more elderly and disabled will choose to travel during peak hours, the Transport Minister said he doesn’t know:
“I doubt so, but we wouldn’t know until it is done.”
Without providing any statistics, Minister Khaw even gone to the extend to describe the off-peak travel pass scheme as a “miserable failure” and told the Opposition MP not to “keep on banging your head against the wall”:
“It was an experiment that failed miserably. While I encourage making mistakes, when you discover something doesn’t work and you keep on banging your head against the wall, why do you do that? You get a headache.”