In July 2010 Saw Phaik Hwa, CEO, SMRT, said: "It is crowded, but when they are already running at 2-3 minutes (intervals), it's the most that I can do. I cannot go faster than that without compromising safety and reliability." Unlike Raymond Lim, Saw knows she has the protection of her godmother. Not so Lui Tuck Yew, who has just announced plans to cut peak hour waiting times from 2.5 minutes to 2.2 minutes between Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Panjang stations - without compromising safety and reliability.
SMRT used to claim it would cost gadzillion dollars to modify the signaling system to improve train intervals. They also claimed that installing safety barriers would cost another gadzillion bucks. It took a watershed election to convince these inveterate liars and appreciate the social costs of their folly.
The Transport Minister, having experienced congestion at first hand, said LTA and SMRT will purchase 13 extra train cars to provide overdue relief on the Bukit Panjang line. Currently SMRT has 19 train cars for that line, and runs a maximum of 18 cars during peak hours in 6 double-car and 6 single-car trains. Notice no exorbitantly expensive reconfiguration of the signalling system was required.
Lui also addressed measures to boost the reliability by investing $3.12 million over the next 12 months. Every month since January, there have been at least 2 interruptions per month lasting more than 10 minutes each. So much for Saw Phaik Hwa's argument that going faster will compromise safety and reliability. This coming from someone who breezes around town in a Ferrari.
It will take some time before commuters stop associating the Minister's name with a similar sounding profanity since the overdue measures are applicable only for one line of many. Plus, it is not hard to imagine the fellow is obviously is working on another line of excuses to justify the impending fare hike.