While we discussed the deeper problems behind the public transport fare hike earlier this year, even we were surprised by the catastrophic train breakdowns of the North-South and East-West lines last month. So when Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew conveniently announces that there will be 1.9 per cent fare reduction by the end of this year, we’re not entirely convinced that’s really going to make our public transport more affordable.
Also, considering how this year’s fare hike of 2.8 per cent was only announced back in January, it really doesn’t take an opposition politician to figure out why there’s a fare reduction announcement only 7 months after.
But here’s the good news – you don’t need to wait till December to enjoy the government mandated fare reduction. Here are 4 methods you can use to save money on public transport now.
1. Fare-Free Friday
This is a promotion launched by POSB at the end of July. Essentially, it offered 100% cashback rebates to eligible POSB cardholders on their public transport fares for every Friday till the end of the year. That’s 24 Fridays in total. The catch? You either needed to already have signed up with EZ-Link’s automatic top-up service, EZ-Reload, or you needed to be among the first 50,000 cardholders to sign up after the announcement.
As it turned out, Fare-Free Friday was such a good deal that the EZ-Link website was down for hours, overwhelmed by cardholders trying to sign up for the service. POSB officially announced that the promotion was fully subscribed by 31st July, 3 days after they announced it.
We hope you were one of the 100,000 cardholders who are eligible for the promotion. If you are, read on!
How much does Fare-Free Friday save you?
100% of your public transport fares each Friday will be given back to you via cashback rebates in the following month.
Assuming it costs you $1.80 per trip from your home to your workplace. Fare-Free Friday will save you at least $3.60 each week, $14.40 a month, or about $86.40 throughout the whole promotion. Of course, if you go out after work (and you might just do so since it’s not going to cost you), you could be saving up to $5 or more each week, about $20 a month, or $120 throughout the whole promotion. That’s a really good deal.
2. Off-Peak Pass
If you missed out on Fare-Free Fridays, either because you don’t have a POSB card or because you didn’t manage to sign up for EZ-Reload on time, there’s the Off-Peak Monthly Travel Pass, which was launched at the end of June this year.
This Off-Peak Pass costs only $80 a month for adults, and gives you unlimited rides, as long as you travel before 6.30am, between 9am and 5pm, and after 7.30pm on weekdays. You also get unlimited rides all day long on weekends and public holidays. In fact, buses and trains now clearly indicate when it is peak and when it is off-peak, so you don’t get caught paying a fare by tapping your EZ-Link card too early. It’s almost like ERP, for human beings.
How much does the Off-Peak Pass save you?
Since you have unlimited rides on weekdays if you avoid the peak period, and all day on weekends and public holidays, you will be saving money as long as your monthly expenditure on public transport exceeds $80.
As our previous article explains, you would expect to save up to $20 each month, thanks to the Off-Peak Pass. That’s almost as good as Fare-Free Friday! Of course, if you have BOTH the Off-Peak Pass as well as Fare-Free Friday, you may be able to save even more each month.
3. Travel Smart Rewards
Travel Smart Rewards was introduced to encourage MRT commuters to travel during the “decongesting hours” of 6.15am and 7.15am or 8.45am and 9.45am. You get reward points for each train journey you make, but you get up to 6 times more points if you travel during the decongesting hours.
These rewards points can then be redeemed for random amounts of cash, which can be refunded to your EZ-Link card or deposited into a local bank account. Everyone is eligible for this scheme, but it is only applicable to travel by MRT.
How much does Travel Smart Rewards save you?
Because the cash rewards that you get are random, it’s hard to say exactly how much Travel Smart Rewards can save you. Earlier this year, I won $20 in a month from Travel Smart Rewards. You might have seen advertisements around MRT stations proclaiming that winners have won hundreds of dollars in a month.
The good news is, Travel Smart Rewards can be combined with the Off-Peak Pass or Fare-Free Friday for higher savings.
4. Credit Card EZ-Link Cashback
As always, we have to remind you that you can already earn cash back rebates if you use the right credit card. The OCBC FRANK card gives 6% cash back rebates on your first two NETS FlashPay Auto Top-Ups (up to $6 a month). However, do note that there is a $500 minimum spending requirement each month.
There is also the POSB Everyday Card and the Citibank SMRT Card. Both give 2% cash back rebates if you apply for EZ-Reload auto top up. The POSB Everyday Card has no minimum spending requirement. If you charge less than $600 a month on the Citibank SMRT Card, your cash back rebate will only be 1.7%.
So, while we wait for Minister Lui Tuck Yew’s announced fare reduction of 1.9% in December, at least we know that there are other methods to make your public transport more affordable.
Do you have any other methods of saving money when you travel? Let us know!