SINGAPORE — School bus fares have gone up by up to 10 per cent in 2023 compared to 2022 for most schools under the Ministry of Education (MOE) due to the shortage of bus drivers and rising fuel prices, which have affected the viability of some school bus service providers.
Meanwhile, Special Education (SPED) schools have seen a higher increase due to the smaller pool of bus operators who can meet their more complex needs.
Furthermore, the post-COVID re-opening of the economy has also played a role in the increase, the MOE said in response to queries in Parliament on Wednesday (22 March).
Subsidy for school buses
Workers' Party Member of Parliament (MP) Leon Perera had asked the MOE for updates on the adequacy of supply for school bus services and whether it can be provided specifically for SPED schools. He also asked how much the average increase in school bus fares was in 2022.
According to the ministry, the demand for school bus services has been relatively stable as 98 per cent of Primary One students were able to obtain a place in a school within 2 kilometres from their residence.
“Most providers have continued providing school bus services, but have to raise their fares to reflect both rising costs and the need for the industry to attract and retain sufficient school bus drivers,” MOE said.
To address these challenges, the government has increased the subsidy for school buses from 60 per cent to 65 percent of monthly fares since January 2023.
For SPED schools, eligible students taking school bus services can apply for the Enabling Transport Subsidy (ETS). Additionally, SPED schools can provide discretionary support to needy students who may require additional help with their school bus fares.
“This will reduce the amount paid by the families of these needy students and help mitigate the increase in school bus fares,” MOE added.
"Both MSF and MOE will closely monitor school bus fares, and if need be, step up financial support for needy students who have to travel by school bus."