Fares affordability study looks funny?

Photo: CT/CC-BY-SA-2.5Photo: CT/CC-BY-SA-2.5

The transport fares affordability study may leave us with even more unanswered questions?

I refer to the article “Singapore ranks 2nd in transport fare affordability” (Straits Times, Oct 24).

It states that “Singapore has come out second in terms of transport fare affordability in a study of 12 major cities conducted by the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Commissioned by the Public Transport Council (PTC), the study also found that Singapore collected the least fare revenue per passenger kilometre travelled among the cities surveyed.

This, the authors warned, was “not necessarily sustainable for public transport operators given the rising operating costs worldwide”.

As to “Fare affordability was measured as the proportion of disposable household income spent on public transport for the second quintile household group – referring to the income group just above the bottom 20 per cent who take public transport – in 2016.

This is in line with the PTC’s monitoring of fare affordability for this category, seen as the group most likely to depend on public transport regularly” – why does the table below show Singapore’s annual disposable income as $57,802, which is 60% higher than London’s $36,114?

How is it possible that the “annual disposable income” of the  “income group just above the bottom 20 per cent” be $57,802, which appears to be extremely high?

The study compared 12 cities – Beijing, Hong Kong, London, New York City, Paris, San Francisco, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo and Toronto.

The last study done in 2017 was on 36 cities. So, why is the study now only on 12 cities? How were these 12 cities selected?

As to “Singapore had an index score of 4.8 for affordability – meaning that on average, a typical family using public transport on a daily basis here spends about 4.8 per cent of its disposable income on public transport.

San Francisco scored 4.1, topping the list. While public transport expenditure in the American city is 28 per cent higher than in Singapore, the disposable income is 48 per cent higher” – if the subject study had been done on the same 36 cities – what would be the conclusions on affordability?

“The Straits Times reported last month that transport fares could go up by as much as 4.3 per cent – or 10 cents a journey – next year.”

Leong Sze Hian


About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.