In a Straits Times article published yesterday, the authorities announced that 68% of all commuters had saved on their fares based on the 24 million journeys made over a one-week period last month. That occurred after distance fares were introduced. The implementing of Distance Fares in early July are said to enable commuters, who made transfers in their journeys, reduce transports costs. It was argued that distance fares would enhance Singapore's "hub and spoke" transport system. MyQueenstown does not wish to question on validity of the analysis. However, we would find out whether residents in Queenstown had indeed benefit from distance fares.
Bus Stop Opposite Queenstown MRT Station
MyQueenstown Team had conducted a survey at a bus stop next to Commonwealth MRT, Queenstown MRT and Stirling View bus stop on three separate occasions earlier this week. Out of the 58 residents interview, 50 of them recorded the differences in fares while the remaining 8 of them did not "check whether their fares have increased or not."
In our modest survey, 34 or 68% respondents have told us that they experienced higher fares, ranging from 2 cents to over 20 cents per trip. 12 or 24% of the residents paid lower fees while the remaining 8% felt no difference in their transport fares. Why are there such a huge discrepancy in the percentage listed by the PTC above? Let's find out in detail about each individual trip taken by Queenstown residents.
Mr Lee works in Marsilling
Mr Lee, who stays in Commonwealth, takes the MRT to Marsilling every day for work. He spent more on transport fares.
One of our correspondent, Poh Ee, stays in Tanglin Halt and studies in Queenstown Secondary School. Like many Queenstown students from the neighbourhood school, they pay 2 cents more for their bus rides.
Carrie, 36, took a direct bus service 105 or 111 to Orchard every day from Queenstown MRT. She also pays 2 cents more.
Mrs Yee took a direct bus every day to work. She has to pay a slightly higher sum but she is unable to quote the figure.
From our survey listed above, 38 or 76% of the 50 respondents living,studying or working in Queenstown took a direct bus or MRT to their destinations. Only 12 or 24% requires a further transfer in their trips.
Two reasons on why there is a huge proportion of residents taking direct public transport to their destinations are the close proximity of many districts in Queenstown to MRT stations and the availability of many bus services at popular bus stops far away from MRT Stations. For example, residents can hop onto bus service 123 to Orchard, 93 or 100 to Harbourfront, 147 to Little India and Chinatown, 198 to One-North (practically everywhere in Singapore) from the Stirling View bus stop.
Bus Service 51 can take residents to Pasir Panjang, Stirling View, Strathmore, Clark Quay and Geylang
Before we get too carried away by the convenience of public transport in Queenstown, it must be noted that there is also a huge proportion of low income elderly persons living in Queenstown. In fact, Queenstown has one of the highest proportion of applicants for financial assistance in Singapore. According to the Public Transport Council, they had an "unenviable task of distributing it among the various commuter groups."
So, why penalise Queenstown? These elderly persons need to visit nearby medical institutions such as Alexandra Hospital, National University Hospital or Queenstown Polyclinic for medical treatments. While the increase in transport fares may seem insignificant to some of us, these older folks or lower income families struggle to make ends meet. While MyQueenstown agrees that distance fare is a fairer way of charging transport fares, there is no assistance for these needy elderly persons in the horizon.
Distance fares may appear cheaper, better and faster for residents in other parts of Singapore. But certainly, not Queenstown!