TL;DR – Breakdowns, floods and a lack of executive accountability.
Over the weekend, Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post published two pieces discussing our MRT system:
21 October: ROLLING STOCK TO LAUGHING STOCK: WHY IS SINGAPORE’S METRO STRUGGLING, WHEN HONG KONG’S IS A HIT?
22 October: IF SINGAPORE’S METRO IS IMPROVING, WHY THE DELAYS?
Both circulated quite widely on social media, with the first article totalling over 17,000 shares.
In the article, “Southeast Asia specialist” Bhavan Jaipragas talks about how Singapore’s reputation efficiency is literally, going down the tube.
Breakdowns, floods and a lack of executive accountability
Jaipragas mentions how Singapore’s MRT network, once touted as one of Asia’s best, has been dogged by major breakdowns and delays in recent years. Today it lags behind Hong Kong’s MTR and the Taipei MRT in reliability, he says, despite how the government has since spent hundreds of millions of dollars overhauling the network.
He also talks about the October 7 flood in the underground tunnel near Bishan station that caused a 20-hour disruption and that while transport minister Khaw Boon Wan, SMRT chairman Seah Moon Ming and SMRT Chief Executive Desmond Kuek apologised, “commuters and observers said their implications that rank-and-file workers bore responsibility raised questions on whether a lack of executive accountability was behind the metro network’s woes.”
This is in response to Minister Khaw Boon Wan’s statement that SMRT maintenance team ‘failed us’. Though, in my opinion, this isn’t the time to take it out on the technicians, train captions or frontline staff since they are probably already trying their best.
In the second article, Jaipragas goes on to talk about how Singaporeans are not trusting official figures that substantiate claims about how our MRT network has improved threefold in the past two years because of sloppy journalism.
He quotes Walter Theseira, a transport economist with the Singapore University of Social Sciences, that despite the improvement in reliability, “major disruptions, which force commuters onto bus bridging services and/or make people late for appointments, still happen frequently enough that it’s part of many commuters’ experiences with public transport”.
(Cover image via)