"(During) this tough and uncertain period, I hope there will be no increase in transport fares." So asked a resident to Singapore's Transport Minister Raymond Lim during a dialogue session with MacPherson residents on Sunday.
It seems like a fair question. The resident hope that there will be no increase in transport fares, and I believe another asked if the government will consider subsidising public transport fares. Fair, legitimate questions in my view. So how did this became a question of whether Singapore public transport becoming completely free?
Transport Minister Raymond Lim revealed that it would take a further 1.5% hike in GST if bus and train rides were to be made completely free. The thing is that no one is asking for free transport! Singaporeans understand that there is no such thing as a free transport service; the question isn't that but if
A) will there be an increase in transport fares
and B) will the government consider subsidising public transport fares
How did those questions led to completely free public transport? Mr Raymond Lim also made another mistake when he said that the public transport fare is not directly linked to the oil prices. The fares now seems to be linked factors like the inflation level in Singapore, and the wage level in the whole of Singapore.
This despite the fact that the rise in oil prices is the reason given for all those fares increases these past few years. Even if the public transport fare is not directly linked to the oil prices, the other reasons Mr Raymond Lim gave cut no ice with Singaporeans. Wages in Singapore are going down due to job losses and inflation is hardly a problem with a global financial meltdown in the works.
If Mr Raymond Lim want to say that he cannot confirm that there will not be any increase in transport fares, I suggest that he just say so in the future.