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IPW: Singapore boosts transport affordability, and South Africa enters infrastructure partnership with the UK

02 May 2023

In this week’s Infrastructure Policy Watch, Singapore reviews transport fares and South Africa partners with the UK to boost insight-sharing.

IPW: Singapore boosts transport affordability, and South Africa enters infrastructure partnership with the UK
South Africa has entered a new partnership with the UK to develop its infrastructure. Image credit: Shutterstock

Singapore boosts transport affordability for commuters

The Singapore government has accepted the Public Transport Council’s (PTC) recommendations for the 2023 Fare Adjustment Formula and Mechanism Review.

In late 2022, the Minister for Transport, Mr S Iswaran, appointed the PTC to review the effectiveness of the fare formula that’s used to calculate the cost to commuters.

A fare formula was set up in 2018 to keep on top of cost changes associated with operation, capacity, energy and growth in the public transport network.

The aim of the 2022/23 review was to ensure fare affordability for commuters and the financial sustainability of the public transport system.

To conduct the review, the PTC set up a working group to review the formula and its underlying calculation mechanism to provide recommendations.

The working group drew on stakeholder insights to better understand the uncertainties associated with inflation, changing commuter demand post Covid-19, and the need for continuous improvement.

The working group concluded the current fare formula has generally been working well, but improvements could be made to reduce the variability of fares.

Recommendations underscored the need for a high-quality and financially sustainable public transport system.

To achieve this, the public transport fares needed to be updated to keep pace with operating costs and ensure fares remain affordable.

To action the recommendations, the government will continue subsidising operating costs at approximately $1 per journey, or $2 billion annually.

Vulnerable groups will pay concessionary fares.

The ICE’s view:

Affordability is a critical factor for ensuring transport remains accessible to commuters.

Developing a mechanism for reviewing affordability, such as the one used in Singapore, builds opportunities to ensure transport infrastructure meets the needs of society while also allowing essential infrastructure updates to be made.

The Enabling Better Infrastructure and Next Steps on funding transport after Covid-19 programmes consider the cost of infrastructure and outline the steps needed to ensure governments can afford infrastructure investments.

Singapore is a good example of this, where steps have been taken to ensure public transport is affordable to commuters.

South Africa improves its infrastructure capacity through new UK partnership

A new partnership between the UK and South Africa will bring much-needed capacity building to help support the development of South Africa’s infrastructure sector.

Recent reports on South Africa’s infrastructure have highlighted the dire need for capacity and resources to create bankable infrastructure projects. The opportunities associated with partnerships have also been outlined.

In a detailed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Infrastructure South Africa (ISA) and the UK Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) committed to collaborating more closely.

They will support insight sharing on good practice in setting up strategic planning, prioritisation, and management of infrastructure projects.

Expected outcomes include:

  • building capacity to prioritise, finance, procure, and manage infrastructure
  • help attract international and other investment

This MoU was formally signed on 21 April by Infrastructure Development Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Sihle Zikalala and the United Kingdom Trade Envoy Andrew Selous MP.

Minister Zikalala pointed out that infrastructure was the backbone of the South African economy, where it has a ‘multiplier effect’, offering an avenue for ‘re-igniting’ the economy.

This agreement will ramp up existing commitments to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Concluding remarks highlighted it’s time for ‘getting the spade to the ground, and less talk’.

The ICE’s view:

Partnerships are critical for information and knowledge sharing on infrastructure, including supporting development.

As summarised by the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Enabling Better Infrastructure programme, partnerships embody a way forward to strengthen joint efforts and effectively define success in the planning and prioritising of infrastructure.

The value of learning and knowledge sharing across countries is demonstrated by the Country Talks series, which showcases the benefits of working in this way.

Setting up a formal partnership helps to solidify this good practice and support ongoing insight sharing.

In case you missed it

  • Dr Kerry Bobbins, head of Enabling Better Infrastructure programme at ICE