Speaking in parliament today, he said that fare revenues that go to the government are insufficient to cover operating costs.
As a result of this, the government has to absorb all additional costs.
Mr Khaw said that the government now owns buses and rail assets and a lot of money will need to be spent on renewal, replacement and maintenance of these assets.
He said that over the next 5 years up to S$4 billion will be spent on subsidising public bus services and another S$4 billion will be spent on rail asset replacement, while another S$20 billion will be used to develop new public transport infrastructure.
In view of this, Mr Khaw said that a “fair balance” must be struck between taxpayers, commuters and transport operators.
“We must ensure that the fiscal burden does not become too excessive for taxpayers. In the earlier years, we split the responsibility by having taxpayers fund the construction of transport infrastructure, while commuters bear the operating costs through transport fares. But over the years, as fares have not kept up with rising costs, taxpayers have to subsidise more and more of the operating costs, especially as we have been raising service standards significantly.”
Mr Khaw also said that the Public Transport Council will review public transport fares once the formula used to calculate them expires at the end of this year.
He asked for commuters to be understanding.
“The PTC cannot always bring good news, sometimes they have to adjust fares upwards. If they do, I hope commuters will be understanding.”