When the Off-Peak Pass was first announced at the beginning of the year, I didn’t give it a second thought. Even though I have to take the train across the island every day for work, the cost of commuting barely came close to the cost of the Off-Peak Pass. And then I got attached. And now that I’m dating, suddenly my cost of commuting has increased. But does this make the Off-Peak Pass the smart choice for me? And who else would benefit from it?
Here are 5 types of Singaporeans who could benefit from the Off-Peak Pass when it launches on 5 July this year.
The Off-Peak Pass benefits those who start their travel either before the peak periods of 6.30am to 9am, and 5pm to 7.30pm. One group who would normally not start travelling during these peak periods are teachers. Because school times often start around 7.20am, teachers would need to start their commute before 6.30am. However, to really benefit from the Off-Peak Pass, one would need to be currently spending about $1.80 per trip.
Let’s look at a case study of a teacher who travels on the MRT from Punggol to Ang Mo Kio daily for work.
Assuming she doesn’t need to make any further transfers by bus, that’s $1.75 per trip, or $3.50 daily. In a month with an average of 22 weekdays, that’s a total of $77 a month.
True, it’s just shy of the $80 cost of the Off-Peak Pass, but let’s not forget that the Off-Peak Pass also gives you unlimited travel on buses and trains all day on weekends and public holidays. If our teacher isn’t bogged down by marking and lesson planning and other administrative matters over the weekend, she could easily make up the difference. She just needs to travel to Orchard once or twice a month on the weekend to make up the difference.
How much do teachers actually benefit from the Off-Peak Pass? Depending on how far they have to commute, the Off-Peak Pass would help teachers save $2-$5 each month.
The Off-Peak Pass gives you unlimited rides outside of the peak periods of 6.30am to 9am, and 5pm to 7.30pm. This makes it ideal for salespeople, who probably have to make multiple trips in a day during working hours to meet clients.
Assuming a salesman travels from his office in Tanjong Pagar to meet a client in Holland Village. That’s $1.38. From Holland Village to meet another client in Toa Payoh? That’s $1.67. A third client in Bugis? Another $1.20. That’s a total of $4.25 in an afternoon alone. Yes, he may be lucky enough to have get a transfer rebate on some of these trips, if his meeting with the client is less than 45 minutes. But in general, he can expect to spend a significant amount on public transport.
Say this happens… 18 days a month. That’s a total of $76.50 a month! And we’re not even including his commutes from work to home and any trips he makes on weekends and public holidays.
How much do salespeople actually benefit from the Off-Peak Pass? Depending on how often they have to commute, the Off-Peak Pass would help salespeople save $2-$5 each month.
3. People who also want to take advantage of Travel Smart Rewards
Travel Smart Rewards is a scheme introduced to encourage people to travel by train during off-peak hours. Essentially, you get “points” for taking the train. These “points” can then be converted to cash. Cold, hard cash.
You get a significantly higher number of points if your trip starts anytime between 6.15am to 7.15am or 8.45am to 9.45am.
There’s no reason why you can’t reap the benefits of both the Off-Peak Pass as well as Travel Smart Rewards. As long as your journey begins between 6.15am and 6.30am or between 9am and 9.45am, you qualify for both the extra points for Travel Smart Rewards, as well as unlimited rides with the Off-Peak Pass. So not only are you travelling for “free” thanks to the Off-Peak Pass, you also stand to win some money with Travel Smart Rewards. It’s win-win.
It’s important to note that the Off-Peak Pass gives you unlimited rides on buses AND trains, but Travel Smart Rewards are only for train rides.
How much do you benefit from both Travel Smart Rewards and the Off-Peak Pass? First, you have to be willing to be disciplined about your morning travel starting anytime between 6.15am and 6.30am or between 9am and 9.45am. If you do it consistently, you might be able to save up to $20 a month. That’s not bad at all.
4. Really, really adventurous senior citizens and those who qualify for the “Persons with Disabilities” concession card
Unlike the adult Off-Peak Pass, which costs $80, the Off-Peak Pass for holders of the Senior Citizen Concession Card and Person with Disabilities Concession Card are only $40.
Currently, Senior Citizen Concession Cards either enjoy lower public transport fees, or have the option of unlimited rides for $60. With the Off-Peak Pass, they have one more option: To enjoy unlimited travel for only $40.
Once you turn 60, you qualify for the Senior Citizen Concession Card. Since Singaporeans are probably never going to retire this means that you can save a significant amount of money on your way to work!
For example, if you live in Toa Payoh and work in Tanjong Pagar, and you’re 60 years old and above, your discounted fare is $0.90. That’s $1.80 a day. Assuming you work 22 weekdays a month, that’s $39.60 a month. This essentially means that, if you have an Off-Peak Pass, all your travel on weekends and public holidays are essentially free!
(Note: The discounted fares for the Senior Citizen Concession Card are the same for the Person with Disabilities Concession Card, so the above is also relevant for those who qualify for the latter.)
How much do Senior Citizens and Persons with Disabilities actually benefit from the Off-Peak Pass? Depending on how often they have to commute, the Off-Peak Pass would help these Concession Card holders save $2-$5 each month.
5. Extremely Dedicated People In “Long-Distance” Relationships
As I mentioned earlier, my new relationship found me travelling a couple of times each week from my workplace to my girlfriend’s place, and then home. If you’re like me, you’ll find that the Off-Peak Pass is an amazing benefit to my new lifestyle.
Traveling from my workplace to her house costs me $2.05. Traveling from her house to my place costs $1.95. That’s a total of $4 each time I visit her. Because both these trips happen after 7.30pm, they are covered by the Off-Peak Pass. If I visit her 20 times in a month, that’s $80. It essentially means that my commute to work each morning is free.
Of course, as dedicated as I am, I don’t visit her all the time. But with the Off-Peak Pass, I might actually have more reason to drop by, and that’s never a bad thing. So if you’re in a “long distance relationship” (like me) and have been complaining (like me) that your love life is draining your wallet, get the Off-Peak Pass. You’ll definitely feel better about your dates.
How much do people in “long-distance” relationships actually benefit from the Off-Peak Pass? Depending on how often they have to commute, the Off-Peak Pass would help lovers save $5-$10 each month.
So you should get the Off-Peak Pass if you belong to one of the 5 categories above?
Obviously, the Off-Peak Pass is not for everyone. As with all the 5 examples above, those who will really benefit are those who have to travel long distances or commute often in a month. The savings the Off-Peak Pass gives you may also not seem like much at first, but there are ways to increase those savings.
I’ve already mentioned how you can earn money from Travel Smart Rewards above, but using the right credit card as your EZ-Link card can also help you earn cash back rebates. The OCBC FRANK card gives 6% cash back rebates for NETS FlashPay transactions (up to a maximum $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%.
Judging from my current public transport needs. I know I’m getting the Off-Peak Pass when it comes out on 5 July. Just don’t tell my girlfriend that the only reason I’m seeing her more is because I now have unlimited rides.
How much are you spending on public transport a month? Will you be getting the Off-Peak Pass? We want to hear from you.