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Bus/train fares: Making a left turn

So the bus/train fare increases are out, based on new formulas devised by the Fare Review Committee. What would they have been under the old formula? Dunno. Should be higher since the old formula used inflation which included the cost of cars, rather than “core inflation’’. In any case, the G maintains that the new fares are at the level of 10 to 15 years ago, if anyone still remembers what they paid then.  

Here are some things you might have missed while you’re trying to figure out how much you have to pay for your usual bus/train trips from April 6.

  1. The 3.2 per cent increase is less than the 6.6 per cent the transport operators asked for and what the fare formula dictates. Don’t think that your fare per se will go up by 3.2 per cent. It refers to the extra revenue that the operators want. What 3.2 per cent means: $53.5 million for the two operators.
  2. The other 3.4 per cent increase will be “rolled over’’ to next year. So does this mean it will be 3.4 per cent plus whatever the formula says for 2014? According to the PTC, the 2014 rate should be “negative’’ or -0.3 per cent, according to its “estimates’’. That means next year’s rise should be 3.1 per cent.  Remember that!
  3. Transport fares have actually got more affordable over the years. They might have gone up in dollars and cents, but not as a proportion of total spending. Really.
  4. It’s cheaper, very much cheaper, to use CARD, not cash.
  5. There’s a new Adult Monthly Travel Pass which anyone can apply for. It’s $120 a month for unlimited travel. You might want to check what your transport bill is like under the new fare structure before jumping too quickly to buy one.
  6. There’s a new $60 a month card for senior citizens. Also for unlimited travel.
  7. A whole lot of new concessions were introduced which should make polytechnic students in particular very happy because their fares get cut by half.
  8. If you are on Workfare Income Supplement, you can get a 15 per cent discount off fares. If you are disabled, you get 25 per cent off. That starts from July 6 and is funded by the G. Yes, both are new schemes. G payout: $50 million.
  9. In the meantime, this group can  apply to community centres for transport vouchers. Some 250,000 vouchers worth $7.5 million will be available. That’s funded by the Public Transport Fund which the operators contribute to. Operator payout: $11.5 million.

There’s a contradiction between the ST report and what the PTC says. ST said that the $11.5 million will come from the $53.5 million extra revenue the operators will get with the fare increase. But the PTC said in its press statement that the “gain in revenue does not include money to be set aside by the operators for the Public Transport Fund’’.  Guess the operators will have to get the money from elsewhere…

The interesting thing about this exercise is that while the operators will get a $53.5 million revenue rise; the G is subsidising some commuters to the tune of $50million. This special group is known in transport jargon speak as LWW or low wage workers and PWD or person with disabilities. Yucks. Ugly acronyms…

That’s real good of the G. It’s turning left…

But I’m hoping a transport economist weighs in. What does this mean? That the G is actually footing most of the total fare rise through its subsidies for the two groups or what?  So hard to figure out or maybe I am just stupid. I would be more than happy to be corrected and labelled stupid.

Anyway, for the commuter, you will know what all the numbers mean to your pocket on April 6.


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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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