Study says Singapore’s public transport fares are among the most affordable – here’s why

A study found that on average, a typical family spends about 4.8 percent of its disposable income on public transport.
Singapore Press Holdings

A recent study has ranked Singapore’s public transport fares the second most affordable among 12 major cities.

The study measured fare affordability as “the proportion of disposable household income spent on public transport for the second quintile household group” in 2016.

“The second quintile household group” refers to the income group just above the bottom 20 per cent who take public transport.

On average, a typical family (i.e. two working adults and two school-going/school age children) that uses public transport everyday spends about 4.8 per cent of its disposable income on public transport, said the study published on Oct 23.

As such, the study published by the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) put Singapore in second place, with an index score of 4.8.

Affordability index for a representative family in the second quintile group in 2016.
Nanyang Technological University

In first place was San Francisco. This could be because of the fact that although the public transport expenditure there is 28 per cent higher than in Singapore, the disposable income registered is also 48 per cent higher.

Another finding was that when compared to six other cities – Hong Kong, Sydney, Toronto, New York, San Francisco and London – Singapore collected the lowest fare revenue per passenger kilometre in 2016.

In Singapore, fare revenue per passenger kilometre was S$0.11 for the entire public transport system. Hong Kong was second at S$0.14, followed by Sydney at S$0.15.

London was the highest at S$0.19. This means that for an average trip of 10km, Londoners paid at least S$0.80 more than commuters in Singapore.

Commuters here are also given the flexibility to choose their preferred travel mode without having to worry about additional costs when making transfers between bus and train. A system as such only applied to three other cities – New York, Seoul and Toronto.

In addition, Singapore’s concessionary bus and train fares for students and seniors were among the lowest recorded in the study.

Lower concessionary fares for senior citizens

Singapore’s senior citizen concessionary fares measured in May 2018 were also lower compared with most other cities studied.

At age 60, seniors in Singapore are eligible for the senior citizen concessionary fares.

Commuters in Beijing, Hong Kong, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seoul, Taipei and Toronto only qualify for senior citizen concessions at 65 years of age, and commuters in Tokyo, at 70 years of age.

Lowest train fares for students

Furthermore, Singapore’s student train fares were the lowest across all the distances compared.

Secondary school level students in Beijing, New York and Tokyo pay adult fares on trains.

When it comes to bus fares, Singapore was ranked the third lowest. Students in New York had to pay full adult fares on buses, making New York the city with the highest student bus fares.