Despite the suspension of Certificates of Entitlements (COEs) bidding during this circuit breaker, private car owners are required to carry on paying for COEs and road taxes. Announced on Tuesday, 5 May, by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, the rationale in doing so is that drivers are still able to utilise their cars for essential purposes.
Notwithstanding the amount of requests received for COE validity extension, road tax and vehicle-related issues, Mr Khaw responded with adjustments that are already put in place by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), such as the deadline extension of private car inspection for those due during the circuit breaker.
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, the public transport’s model of financing will need to be reviewed should the ultimate impact be “drastic”. The current social distancing measures have resulted in various effects including the public transport demand. As services for trains and buses are currently still provided, additional costs are incurred in order to sanitise the vehicles, ensure the safety of the drivers and supply housing for Malaysian bus drivers. These drivers have been mandated by Malaysia’s Movement Control Order for them to be under quarantine for 14 days if they were to cross the border into Johor.
Such costs will imminently be borne by fellow taxpayers and operators since the prevailing fares are inadequate, given the greatly diminished public transport riders of a drop of 75 per cent for buses and 84 per cent for trains, as compared to pre-pandemic. This has led to an 80 per cent dive in fare revenues. To ameliorate the negative impacts on transport operators, relief measures have been implemented – Job Support Scheme, foreign worker levy waiver, rebates on property tax and the temporal cessation of Electronic Road Pricing (ERP).
Even with the plunge in ridership, public transport operators maintain the transport services in order to facilitate social distancing. This has also allowed the operators to avoid a larger margin of costs induced.
As the Covid-19 pandemic evolves, public transport in Singapore will have to adapt and shape itself to better suit the environment.