Sunday, 13 July 2014

SBS, SMRT raising fares for premium services

Higher operating costs cited as reason; three private firms set to follow suit
By Royston Sim, The Straits Times, 12 Jul 2014

COMMUTERS using non-basic bus services run by SBS Transit and SMRT can expect higher bus fares from Aug 3.

The two public transport operators announced yesterday that they will be raising prices to reflect higher operating costs.

And at least three private operators that run premium buses have also applied to the Public Transport Council (PTC) to raise fares, while two others said they do not intend to do so for now.

SBS Transit will lift fares on 41 non-basic bus routes - its Nite Owl, Parks, Chinatown Direct and premium services. The increase will range from 10 cents to 70 cents, depending on the route.

SMRT will increase adult fares by 50 cents to $1 on 15 of its premium, Bus-Plus and Weekend Bus services.

SBS Transit spokesman Tammy Tan said: "The revision comes amid rising operating costs including higher manpower, repairs and maintenance and depreciation costs."

Fares on SBS Transit's 31 premium bus services will go up by 20 to 70 cents. For instance, service 538 from Pasir Ris will cost $4.50, up from $3.80.

Senior citizens with concession cards will have to pay five to 10 cents more on park service 408 as well as Nite Owl and Chinatown Direct routes. The student concession fare is five cents more.

However, one group of commuters will pay less. Children under seven will enjoy free travel on those 10 SBS Transit services, but those taller than 0.9m will need a valid child concession card.

SMRT said fares on its 15 services "will be adjusted to reflect the rising cost of operations".

Fares on nine of its premium bus routes will go up by 50 cents, while the fare for premium route 546 from Geylang Bahru to Shenton Way will rise by $1 to $4.50.

Adults using the weekend bus service 926 from Woodlands to the zoo will have to pay 50 cents more, or $1.90. The fare for seniors and students is now $1.20.

Bus Hub's managing director V. Anilan said the PTC has approved the operator's application to raise fares for four premium routes, though he would not reveal the increment as he wants to inform his customers first.

"It's something we have to do because costs have been going up," he said, noting that the amount of revenue from a premium route is fixed as each bus can make only one trip to the city during the morning peak and standing passengers are not allowed.

Mr Alex Lim, the owner of Plus 1 Your Preferred Transportation, has applied to increase fares on one route - 568, from Serangoon North to the city.

Likewise, Ren Quan Transport has applied to raise fares on route 753 from Flora Road to Anson Road, citing higher ERP or electronic road pricing costs.

They have not had any reply from the PTC, which could not answer a query on which premium bus operators have applied to raise fares.

Two other operators, Xin Sheng Transport Services and Loh Gim Chong Transport, said they will not raise fares for now.

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