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Concession Passes For Working Adults: Are They Ever Worth It?

Its like a buffet, but for public transport.

This article was first published on 7 July 2018 and was updated on 7 January 2020.

Many graduates who step into the working world realise they spend much more money than they previously did as a student. One reason for this is higher work-related expenses, like purchasing office wear and transport expenses of commuting to the Central Business District (CBD) every day. 

The latter is especially true for university students who used to rely on free shuttle buses to get around each day or their student concession passes. Now that they are no longer eligible for student concession passes, the natural question that follows is whether the Adult Monthly Travel Card is something working adults should consider.

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About The Adult Monthly Travel Pass (AMTP)

The Adult Monthly Travel Pass (AMTP) is the only transport concession pass available for adults. Similar to the undergraduate concession pass, it grants unlimited travel on basic bus and train services. The main difference is that it costs $128 a month, which is 41% more than what university students are paying.

If it’s the first time you’re getting the AMTP, you’ll need to apply for the Adult Monthly Travel Card (AMTC), which will cost you $136.10 upfront. This includes a one-time $5 card cost, $3.10 personalisation fee and $128 AMTP for a month. After applying, you will receive your AMTC in the mail in two to four weeks time. After activation, you can top up the card in subsequent months at TransitLink Ticket Offices, MRT Stations and Ticketing Machines.

Given that it costs so much more, is the adult concession pass ever worth it? This boils down to two factors of how you use on public transport: your travel distance and travel frequency.

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How Far Do You Travel?

According to the Land Transport Authority, distance-based pricing was introduced to allow commuters to make transfers without being penalised. This is aimed to help commuters reduce travelling time by choosing transfers when it made sense for them while reducing the strain on public transport during peak hours.

For example, instead of waiting for a direct bus, a commuter could take a feeder bus to the nearest interchange before continuing their commute by train or another bus without paying extra.

This means that your fare depends on how far you travel, and the AMTP will likely suit you better if you travel longer distances.

How Often Do You Travel?

Beyond just commuting to work, how often you use public transport depends on your lifestyle.

If you head to town or visit your relatives during the weekends, you are likely to use public transport regularly. However, if you mostly stay at home or have a habit of driving during weekends, you may use less public transport less frequently.

We illustrate these factors in the three following scenarios, so you can decide when it makes sense for you to get an AMTP.

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Scenario 1: Medium Frequency Public Transport User Who Stays Near Their Workplace

Andy lives within walking distance of Commonwealth MRT. He commutes to his office near Tanjong Pagar MRT during weekdays. During weekends, he rides the bus for two return trips twice a week.  His bus rides are around 4km.

Cost of MRT commute from Commonwealth to Tanjong Pagar: $1.31

Given there are about 20 working days in June, assuming he takes the same return trip, he spends $1.31 * 2 * 20 = $52.40 on his MRT journeys.

Cost of 4km Bus Ride: $1.02

Cost of bus rides on weekends = $1.02 * 2 * 8 = $16.32

Total amount spent on public transport = $52.40 + $16.32 = $68.72

It’s clearly a no-brainer that Andy should not get the AMTP, which costs nearly double the amount he spends monthly.

Scenario 2: Medium Frequency Public Transport User Who Stays Far From Work

Charlie lives in Sengkang. He commutes to his office at Tampines MRT during weekdays. During weekends, he rides his bus around his neighbourhood to run errands twice a week.

Cost of MRT commute from Sengkang to Tampines: $1.80

Thus, he spends $1.80 * 2 * 20 = $72 on MRT travels, and like Andy, he spends $16.32 on bus rides on the weekends.

Total amount spent on public transport = $72 + $16.32 = $88.32

In this scenario, the AMTP still costs more than paying normal adult fares.

Scenario 3: High-Frequency Public Transport User Who Stays Far From Work

Daniel lives in Marsiling. He commutes to his office at Tampines MRT. During weekends and public holidays, he takes 2 return trips which cost $1.50 each way.

Cost of MRT commute from Marsiling to Tampines: $2.10

Under the same assumptions, he spends $2.10*20*2 = $84 commuting to work.

Cost of weekend travel: = $1.50*2*2*8 = $48

Total Amount Spent = $84 + $48 = $132

In this scenario which involves lots of frequent long-distance travelling, it can pay off to get an adult concession pass. This scenario might be relatable to people who visit relatives frequently and head to town during the weekends.

This scenario may also be applicable to people travel regularly on public transport to meet clients regularly, like insurance and real estate agents.

Calculating Your Own Usage

To find out whether an AMTP is worth it, you can calculate your average daily public transport expenditure through the Fare Calculator. If it exceeds $4.30 a day, you may consider buying an AMTP.

If you find that having to calculate your own usage seems overly cumbersome, you can consider topping up your EZ-Link card to $128. If the value of your card runs out in less than one month, an AMTP may be a good idea.

You Can Buy the AMTP On A Monthly Basis

If you’re struggling to decide between either option because your schedule varies across different months, you may be relieved to know that the AMTP is renewed monthly. You can top-up the AMTP during the months you expect to utilise public transport heavily at TransitLink Ticket Offices, MRT Stations and Ticketing Machines. Outside the validity periods, you can use the same card to pay normal adult fares.

As shown by the above scenarios, the utility of the AMTP is maximised if you travel long-distances frequently. By working out the cost of your public transport habits, you can best decide whether an AMTP is suitable for you.

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