Friday, December 16, 2011

SMRT SNAFU - Situation Normal All Fouled Up

Those who read their news at were probably wondering why everybody was fussing about PM Lee's election speech in May 2006. CNA online had reported it as "counter the opposition" instead of using the more unpalatable verbatim quote of "what's the right way to fix them". Couple of days ago, CNA tried to make a molehill out of a mountain again.

"The disruption began at 6am, and lasted just 40 minutes.
But trains were delayed for more than five hours as a result of the disruption. While engineers managed to partially-restore the services along the affected stretch, peak hour trains could not be deployed to meet the morning peak frequency.
Train services resumed normal operations around 11.45am."
Note picturesque MRT station with no crowds, no rush 

Why were the commuters on the Circle Line all red in the face? The disruption, in the world according to CNA, lasted only a mere 40 minutes. The level of train service between 6.40am and 11.45am was just as before, i.e. late as usual.

Commuters who still feel their work day was disrupted should read the advisory put out by SMRT carefully:
"Passengers who were unable to complete their journeys due to the disruption can file a claim for refund at the Passenger Service Centre in any of the 68 SMRT stations."

Before you rush out to claim your refund, pay heed to how "unable to complete their journeys" can be interpreted:
You could have boarded one of the shuttle bus services;
You could have waited for the train, however long it takes to show up;
You could have switched to a cab and paid the new enhanced charges;
You could have started walking since one is not allowed to be in the network for longer than 2 hours.

You could have done any of the above, or even charter a chopper if really desperate, and still be "able to complete your journey".
And if you feel skepticism is out of order during this yuletide season of goodwill, see the way SMRT quickly responded to last night's total chaos on the North-South Line. Let's hope they aren't as prompt in making a police report about the train cabin windows that were smashed to let in fresh air for the suffocating passengers.


  1. SG does not believe in accountability, so Lui can just say he will look into it and all will be well.

    If not, LHL will just come out and say – sorry, we will do better, let’s move on.

    But worse of all, people will say oh it cannot be helped, we are lucky we have the best MRT and best govt in the world – so just forget it.

    Who among the 3 is the most pathetic?

  2. When you come to a situation where commuters have to smash windows to let out air in case of fainting people, the entire episode is already beyond the SOP. This could potentially lead to dangerous situation that is out of control. Who's the captain of the titanic train? The people walking on the tunnel must be wondering how long before they could see light at the end of the tunnel.

  3. Utterly shameful.

    The MTR in Hong Kong is light years away in terms of efficiency and almost trouble free operation and here is the rub, it's carrying more passengers than our "world class" MRT system.

    Quit bullshitting anymore, they just can't hack it. A "thorough health check" whatever that means is no longer enough. We need major surgery which should involve staff changes at the very top to salvage our reputation and in the meantime, might I suggest that we should stop trying to be the world's best in this or that and instead concentrate on regaining our tattered efficiency which in the not too distant past was a role model for other countries to emulate.

  4. Nassim Taleb " The Captain always go down with the Ship".

    That's called "Accountability" with a CAPITAL A.

  5. This time round, nobody waited for the "official" statement to announce the breakdown. The breakdown was widely and heavily tweeted! The irony is - they are hard truths! The more irony is - while Mr Lui is busy selling SG's world class transport talent/system/expertise, there is a mayhem in our own island. What a laughing joke. SCDF must be pleased that this has provided commuters a real life drill exercise without emergency.

  6. LUi Tuck Yew -- After all these consistent patterns and you're still asking and not sure if this is an "isolated" case, you really are sleeping on the job and prove clueless. Go back and look at at the log book and see how many breakdowns in this past year. This is more than 1 swallow and in fact summer has come and gone, and we are winter now!!

    IF you don't know what the health check status was to begin with, then why are you the first in line to reject all the early proposals to nationalize the monopoly & dualpoly plans, and "cheong" to support the first transport fares as soon as election is over!!! And then have the audacity to promise better services. You "Pay First, Deliver Never" track record is for all the see now.

  7. The government is going to spend billions on a new highway, and clear HDB dwellers for Ferraris n Lambos while the average Joe have to make do with trains that breakdown every 2 days. Where is the priority? Since they cannot do anything to the transport operators, we have to change the government hoping to change things for the better.

  8. We hv the wrong person at the wrong job. Puzzle me, how could a retail person runs a transport company ? This Is what we hv come to. When are they going to put the right person at the right job ?

    Is our country run by headless people ? Not everything should b about $!
    There r so much wrong that urgently need to be put right. Honestly we are heading towards dangerous and downward ground. I am worried for our future....

  9. Gosh, message 'INCOME OPPORTUNITY' was sent to all SMRT Taxis !!!maybe this should happen more often so there will be more INCOME OPPORTUNITIES.

    Refund procedure is ridiculus - u spend more $ n time to get back cts.. Most pple don't bother - so transport companies win all the time.

    Every problem - the extreme overload on transport, health, education, housing - is the result of the crazy import of foreigners into the tiny red dot.Who is responsible for this policy - EMS Woody Goh ? LKY ? 35% President TT ? Everyone in the Cabinet ?

  10. I say for the 'greater good' of the commuters & public, the CEO must go.
    And as goodwill to appease all the anger and frustration, SMRT give free train rides on Monday/Tuesday to the public delighting from the affected train stations for 2 days during 6-12midnight peak hour to make up for the errors.

    Please no more fines. Spend the money on your real experts instead and get it right! I don't want SMRT/LTA to pass the cost to us again..Enough is enough.

  11. Yesterday is supposed to be Day of Grace.
    Too bad people have ran out of grace with the authority and the transport system.
    I strongly urge the Govt to listen and Act on it. Sometimes when singaporeans make so much noise, all they are really trying to tell you is this - Make my every day happiness count please!

  12. anon @11:09 AM
    "Puzzle me, how could a retail person runs a transport company ?"
    Simple, Ho Ching gave her the job. That's why she can't be sacked.

  13. Too bad daft Sinkies. You voted for PAP so you deserve it. You die your business. Now time for you to repent for 5 years. God is seeing to this.

    The CEO who is ex-salesgirl and who drives yellow ferrari will be replaced. But this will be the only outcome and she will have another million-dollar retirement job in another GLC. SMRT will go back to having 2 breakdowns in 1 year, instead of 2 breakdowns in 2 days.

    And in 2013, the MRT and bus fares will be increased again for "better quality services to customers".

  14. If someone don't even have the honesty to admit that he was watched a porno film in his entire life before, how honest would one think he is in a position to admit any other problems/mistakes at hand and take immediate corrective action to rectify them ?

    The best joke that sums it up of our Govt mindset whenever a problem arises must be the "Income Opportunity" that it represents and solved at the expense of people's misery ie. COE, ERP, GST, etc.

  15. Sweet dream:
    CNA: CEO SMRT steps down to take responsibility

    HC: Who dare to sack Pha*k Hwa must first sack me!

  16. Thinking aloud
    Do affected SMRT commuters have the right to march right up a SMRT bus or cab to take them to their intended destination without paying the fare?

  17. "Puzzle me, how could a retail person runs a transport company ?"

    Me also wonders why a man who spent much of his time in a cabin at sea and or in an office is put incharge of the Transport Ministry. Other than posing himself in public transports, does/did he used public transports???


  18. LTY has only taken MRT during that first week when freshly elected in May.
    Thereafter is business as usual for him despite promised improved services after asking for fare hikes. But there's been report that there were 28 disruptions & 17 +/- cases in 2011 todate. Why are the public still paying this CEO to train her on the job for learning lessons in 'crowd management' & "incidents control" after 40+ over experiences.

    Here's my question. Where was the CEO herself when the train break down?
    In her pajamas at home doing the commanding , or did you see her personally come down on site to inspect when a big fiasco like this has happened?

    The time has passed for apologies after apologies. Is also not about refunds anymore. IT needs to restore the confidence and trust of Singapore commuters once again. Anyone who's stopping the CEO from resigning herself, please step forward and ki chiu and explain to Singaporeans why she should stay.

  19. SMRT = Saw (PH) Must Resign Today.



    But hey, look at this...

    In a speech in March 1999, DPM Lee Hsien Loong said, under the heading "Singapore 21":

    "The key idea in Singapore 21 is "Active Citizenship", i.e. getting Singaporeans to actively contribute their ideas, time and energy to build a better Singapore. ... Singaporeans can participate at many levels - national, community and the neighbourhood. ... Their contributions can help to improve policy making. ... To realize the ideal of Active Citizenship, we need to involve and consult more people in formulating government policy. Our environment in the 21st century will be very different. Our society will be more educated and sophisticated. Our problems will be more complex. We need to understand the concerns of those affected by our actions, and tap the widest range of experience and knowledge available. In a rapidly changing environment, much of the valuable and up-to-date information is held by people at the frontline. Policy makers must draw on this knowledge to understand realities on the ground, and reach better solutions.

    In a speech in November 1999, Mr Eddie Teo, Permanent Secretary (Prime Minister’s Office) said, under the heading "What must change":

    "the first change is that government should involve the general public more when it formulates policy. [W]e need to switch from a mindset of telling the public only what it needs to know to one of seeing it in our interest to explain our policies and rules as clearly as possible so that the public can understand and appreciate why government is doing what it does and how that is in the best interest of the country... [G]overnment must expect a more demanding citizenry, one which questions more, expects more information and is not satisfied with merely receiving instructions and complying with rules. Government must be more open both in giving information to the public and in accepting advice and suggestions”.

  22. She will "consider the call for resignation"?!!

    Consider it Done!

  23. This is real shameful! We like to be arrogant and boast to our neighbors we are better than them and well-run. Look at what had happened. This is as if our SMRT is under terrorist attack! I suspect this is due to internal problem in running and managing the SMRT, this problem has long existed since many many years back. We don't realize there was or is a problem probably the line was not extended to many places yet. But now as the line is further extended, the problem is now magnified and can no longer be covered up any more.

    An impartial Commission Of Inquiry should now be set up to look into what happened and to examine the whole process and procedures in running the SMRT. I guess the problem is deeper than what the existing management can handle. But I won't be surprised the SMRT CEO maybe used as a scapegoat for the whole problem.

    Just Wonder In My Mind, Is PAP Losing Its 'Magic'?

  24. Quote: "Ng Eng Hou said... I suspect this is due to internal problem in running and managing the SMRT, this problem has long existed since many many years back... I guess the problem is deeper than what the existing management can handle. But I won't be surprised the SMRT CEO maybe used as a scapegoat for the whole problem." Unquote

    Eng Hou, you have hit the spot except that this is not only the internal problem in running and managing the SMRT, but it is a problem right from the design, procurement,... till running the train. When more people voice calling for open inquiry, the next step you will find is SMRT CEO's resignation (you will be right on this prediction) and daft Singaporeans will be pacified to calm down and forget the events. Why? Because our government lack of accountability and transparency will be so afraid to open inquiry that will open a can of worms leading to further doubts from the people. Even there is a so-called open inquiry, the government will appoint some less than impartial person to chair the committee of inquiry in order to skew the process of inquiry, basically a cover-up technique.

    BTW, how is our saint Gerald Er doing with the ministers' salary review? I thought it should be out by end of this year. It is already 17 December 2011. Note that Gerald Er's review is not an open to public review and there is no referendum for the people to decide acceptance of recommendations. The recommendations will be approved by the parliament that is dominant by PAP. Oppositions and the people have absolutely NO say on the recommendations. So much for the accountably and transparency.

  25. SMRT broken down again this morning.
    The next thing could well be: "...resign for apology...".

  26. She will resign for sure...but not immediately.
    Like Ho Jinx , she will go on "high note"..after the pool of talents & experts hired by govt and paid for by taxpayers to help her correct them..and after that, then she will leave...

    As for ministerial salary, if they think they can get away with it...they will be for a rude shock. But certainly xmas and ny time is the best time because everyone is away or celebrating..prefer we wait early 2012.

  27. SMRT, goes back to your basics in mass transit:

    Safety, Timely, Comfortability, Friendly.

  28. No news of Gerard Ee for sometimes.
    Hope he is healthy and okay.
    Quite worry about his absence.


    Do your Part, Sign Part 1 of Petition.
    There could be a Part 2 for Mr Lui and maybe even Part 3 for LTA or PTC.

    Remember, they demand you pay upfront fare hikes (buses, smrt, taxis) and they fail their delivery and customers satisfaction. They demand you trade off your lands/graves/heritage for the "greater good" of car owners but only spend 8% from their profits on maintenance & repairs. Make sure you are the vocal majority or end up being the silent minority.

  30. That is why one should not trumpet too much on our his success. True, Singapore has done well but we are not without faults. COE SMRT should resign for the mess. True, she may not be directly responsible for the damage but her inability to carryout the contingency plan well after the first stoppage is not an example of a good leader. I think she is more suitable for retail operations and not operations that need technical know-how. So, is she put there to make money or ensure a smooth and safe ride for commuters?

  31. The story didn't end there. Friday was the rest day for breakdowns. There's another one in Saturday morning. I had to walk from NEL Dhoby Ghaut to Orchard. All my staff were late. Sunday saw another delay because the engineers, technicians etc were doing something "worthwhile".

  32. Not just SNAFU but also FUBAR -- fucked up beyond all recognition. Now the CEO is refusing to step down. Seems like she got some backing over the weekend and now more lao-lan already.

  33. Singaporeans condone the missing "A" = Accountability in SMRT.
    What kind of values are you teaching to your young generations?
    I don't know what to say.

    For those who thinks she needs to stay on and clean up the mess instead of leaving now. You are daft. Consider this. She will cleaned up and later declared as "Turn-around CEO" more reasons to stay. Just look at TPL.

  34. She appeared to be unable to understand whats going on. Making money, she is OK but technical problems and solutions, she has no clue. How to lead a team of technical people? Its like asking a piano teacher to the the next Commisioner of Police!

  35. Asking for the SMRT CEO's head to be chopped is not enough. this is not just her problem. It is the problem with the whole governing system. Where is this sense of real responsibility? Often in recent years, we were often told, if you want better things or want improvement, you pay me 1st. Whether anything gets delivered or not is a separate issue and sad to say with what we have all already witnessed, for what we already paid, we didn't get what we want.

    The whole systems sucks! Government bargaining with us, telling us, if you want them to get things done, you pay them generously upfront. For public services, you want better things, you also pay upfront 1st. Why can't they show us the results 1st before asking? This kind of demand is not unreasonable. Because in our working life, when we ask our boss for a raise, boss will always respond you show me some results 1st and then he will arrive to it later based on the results show to him.

    The Whole System Sucks! Asking The SMRT CEO To Leave Is Not Enough! The Same Thing Can Happen Again In Other Areas And Appear In Other Forms! The Governing System Should Be Changed! Show Us The Results 1st! Show Us They Deserve To Be Rewarded 1st!

  36. When she took over, everything was right.
    After she took over, everything became so wrong.
    Ironically, now she wants to stay on to put things "right" again..huh?

    How many assurances do Commuters have to eat her words before she/govt/lta wake up? I remember not long ago, Chan Chun Sing - " Don't buy the insurance -- don't waste money"..
    Who is trying to give sell the insurance on Mdm Saw's words that it will not happen again? WHO wants to sell this credit-default swap - ki chiu?!

    Becos we ain't buying it anymore. There's no shred of credibility left for Mdm Saw to restore.

  37. I was in the breakdown train in the tunnel that day. I was stuck in a train yesterday (19 Dec) and again this morning (20 Dec). What is going on, SMRT?

  38. I think SMRT is poor in Customer Service and not transparent. Sometimes it is better to tell the truth rather than just trying to bullshit commuters.