Free off-peak travels – lose lose situation?

Early this month, MP Janil Puthucheary suggested free MRT rides for a specific period before peak hours so as to ease congestion during peak hours by encouraging commuters to commute earlier.

Today, some MPs actually voiced support for his proposal.

I am quite unsure about its feasibility though.

Will his proposal actually be effective in inducing commuters to travel earlier, so much so as to ease congestion during the peak hour?

If it really does work this way, then how will the MRT operators make up from the loss in fares collected during the peak hours? Will operators then raise fares across the level, and placing an unfair burden on other groups of commuters that don’t travel during the “no fare timeframe”? If his proposal doesn’t work, it too will signify that operators will lose out in fares during the “no fare timeframe”. Can this also prompt operators to raise fares too?

These are possible extreme outcomes people do not want to see.

I believe more debates and research are needed on the effectiveness of this scheme before any implementation or even outright voicing of support. Voicing support is easy, but not so easy to settle problems if they do arise. Ultimately, commuters must stand to gain.

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