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'Find right balance' in cost-sharing

Building a first class public transport system comes with costs that needed to be shared among Government and commuters
The Straits Times - May 29, 2014
By: Chia Yan Min
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'Find right balance' in cost-sharing PM Lee said while the Government will subsidise public transport costs, commuters also must pay their share. -- PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

WHILE the Government will continue to subsidise public transport costs, commuters must also be prepared to pay their share, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Running a world-class transport system means investing more resources, he added.

"We have to find the right balance in cost-sharing between Government, private sector and commuters," he said during the parliamentary debate on the President's Address yesterday.

He stressed that the Government is committed to improving public transport frequency and expanding the network.

While train services are still "a work in progress", service providers have been working to reduce disruptions and spread out peak-hour traffic, he said.

New trains will come on board this year, and upgrades to signal equipment will begin in 2016.

"We can expect significant improvements in the train service by next year, and this is a problem which we can and we will solve," he added.

The billion-dollar Bus Service Enhancement Programme - where the Government pays for a fleet of buses and their running cost for 10 years - has also been rolled out.

"Our aim is not just to have more buses and trains running, but to build a first-class public transport system in Singapore," said PM Lee, outlining efforts to improve the public transport system since the 2011 General Election.

He added that Singapore can learn from cities with good public transport systems, such as London.

The British city runs a hybrid system with both government and private-sector participation.

"The fares are not cheap... But even then, it doesn't cover all the costs and (the government) subsidises the service heavily with taxpayers' money."

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