Connect with us


Dollars And Sense: Should You Be Getting A Monthly Travel Pass

Public transport have been talked about in political campaigns, casual chit chats at coffee shops and even receive viral attention on social media. With the high COE prices and frequent train breakdowns, affordable public transport fares and reliable services have become national issues.

Given this, the Ministry of Transport (MOT), along with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) have implemented some measures to ‘try’ improve and raise service standards in public transport, amongst which to ease congestion in trains during peak periods and making the cost of public transport affordable for the masses.

They have done this by introducing the following schemes

1. Free Peak Period Travel

It allows commuters who travel to the 18 designated MRT stations to enjoy free travel if they end their journey before 7.45am. Or a $0.50 discount if one was to end between 7.45am to 8 am.

2. Monthly travel pass for $120

Effected from April 2014, it allows commuters unlimited bus & train travel ride for a flat monthly fee of $120.

3. Off Peak travel pass for $80

Available from 5 July 2015 onwards, it provides commuters with unlimited bus & train travel except during peak periods on weekdays, where normal charges will apply. Peaks periods are between 6.30 am – 9 am and 5pm – 7.30pm.

Are the travel passes worth getting?

Let’s do some basic calculations to see if the travel passes are worth taking up.

For our calculations, we will be making assumptions. We are going to assume two commuters. One travels from Woodlands and the other from Ang Mo Kio and they both commute to Raffles Place for their work.

We are also going to assume that the commuter only travels one round trip during each weekday (i.e. travel to and fro from office). For the weekends, we are going to assume one round trip to Orchard and another round trip to Promenade.

Table 1: detailed calculation

Ang Mo Kio Woodlands
Peak Hour Travel $1.46x2tripsx20days$1.32x2tripsx4days (orchard)$1.61x2tripsx4days (Promenade) $1.93x2tripsx20days41.86x2tripsx4days (orchard)$2.08x2tripsx4days


Free Morning Travel $1.46x20days+ Weekend travel $1.93x20days+ Weekend travel
Discounted Morning Travel [($1.46 – $0.50)+$1.46]x20days+ Weekend travel [($1.93 – $0.50)+$1.93]x20days+ Weekend travel

Table 2 : Total figures based on Table 1

Ang Mo Kio Woodlands Unlimited travel pass Off peak travel pass
Peak Hour Travel $81.84 $108.72 $120 $80
Free Morning Travel $52.64 $70.12
Discounted Morning Travel $71.84 $98.72

Analysis For Unlimited Travel Pass

We can see that the unlimited travel pass has been priced rather uncompetitively even if one were to assume that the commuter travels only during peak hours. The person will be paying $120 for the travel pass but will only be spending $108.72 if he is commuting from Woodlands and even lesser if he is travelling from Ang Mo Kio.

Even if you add in the possibility that he might be taking additional trips on the public transport in addition to our assumptions, you have to wonder if he will consistently spend enough such that it makes sense to buy a monthly travel pass as opposed to simply paying as he use.

This could explain why the take up rate has been poor, with only 9000 passes being issued compared to the Public Transport Council’s initial estimates of 40,000 – 60,000.

Analysis For Off-Peak Travel Pass

The off peak travel pass may benefit some commuters who have to travel far to their workplaces. However, they might have to change travelling patterns drastically to take full advantage of the travel pass due to the classification of peak hours. For most of us who are working regular office hours, the off-peak travel pass would not give us a strong impetus to change travelling habits.

At the end of the day, we believe that commuters should calculate their estimated spending on public transport each month before deciding if the monthly travel passes are actually worth getting. For the majority of us, it is highly likely that the travel passes will not translate into much significant savings.

Are you a monthly travel pass holder who is saving money by getting the travel pass? Share with us your thoughts on the travel pass scheme.


Image From Benjamin Lim

Listen to our podcast, where we have in-depth discussions on finance topics that matter to you.