In January 2014, bus and train fares rose 3.2% – or between four to 20 cents according to the Public Transport Council (PTC).
Yesterday it was announced the PTC would once again start its annual fare review exercise to “better align fares and operating costs”.
Mr. Cedric Foo, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said: “…lately, fuel prices are coming down…and core inflation is also not high, wage inflation is also not high, they hope that this (the review) may be zero or even negative.”
This SGAG visual kind of reveals the sentiment on the ground:
The entire country expects that a fare review would be coming soon. If you hear their
excuses reasons, the increase is attributed to poor fare collections.
But look here at this, judging by investor confidence, the SMRT doesn’t look unhealthy at all!
Oh and you see that blip there in April? Wondering why their prices shot up suddenly over night?
Oh, that’s because they’ve reported profit of just $83.3m for 2013. To be fair, that’s a little lower than the $112m they made in 2012..boo hoo hoo.
The improved results were led by better performance in its train and bus operations, as well as higher profitability from its taxi, rental and advertising businesses.
Add to that the recent dip in oil prices, transport margins will improve. Electricity and diesel costs make up an average of 16 per cent of total expenses.
If you hold SMRT shares, you’d be getting dividends of $0.05 each share you hold. If you’re an SBS investor, you’d be getting the same amount.
Look at this, SBS doesn’t look too unhealthy at all.
So why on earth do they need to increase fare prices?
You see, when SMRT et. al. goes to the negotiating table with the Public Transport Council to show their earnings, they only consider what they earn from fare collections – which would clearly show a loss.
They are not showing the tremendous profits they make in retail, overseas operations, investments etc. And I don’t think this is fair.
The PTC should have powers to lift the corporate veil and to consider their profits in total. SMRT, SBS, ComfortDelGro are no ordinary companies. They have a responsibility to provide low-cost public transportation to Singaporeans – regardless of personal wealth. The interests of citizens must be placed before the interests of a handful of investors.
Wasn’t that the purpose of privatising them in the first place? So that these companies don’t become a burden on tax payers and for them to go out and hunt for their own revenue?
If these transport companies cannot do this, then maybe it is time to get them off the mainboard or to return ownership back to the Government.
We welcome anyone on the Public Transport Council, or the transport operators to share their point of view. Contact us at [email protected]
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