On the very next day, January 11, SMRT was given a galloping kick in the butt into the new year with a 1 1/2 hour disruption between the Kranji and Yew Tee MRT stations. Initially the blame for the 12.30 pm breakdown of the North-South Line (NSL) was a euphemistic "loss of traction", which could mean anything from a drive component failure or outright engine seizure. Turns out it was just another cable fault, not unlike the 4 1/2 disruption of the Circle Line on 18 December 2013. That power trip was due to a cable allegedly damaged by a Land Transport Authority (LTA) contractor during a scheduled power cable replacement exercise. SMRT did not say who the contractor was, the finger pointing was strictly one-way traffic. Then the new Downtown Line (DTL) was disrupted on Friday 27 Dec, the second time DTL service was down after its official opening on 21 December 2013 by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Operator SBS Transit fingered a little girl for activating the China made detrainment door device.
None of the above performance shortcomings seem to be factored in when Lui decided on a fare hike to be announced on Thursday. Instead, he actually helped create excuses for the operators' claims of higher operating costs, one example being the "revised penalty framework for train operators". And then there is the additional annual fee payable to the LTA, to "step up our regulatory oversight," something someone obviously overlooked during umpteen years of train operations. SMRT Corp, which bears the brunt of the fee rises, inadvertently let the cat out of the bag with this statement: "These regulatory costs are part of the higher costs that public transport operators have to bear."
Why wait 2 to 3 days for the big announcement on Thursday when the foul deed is already done? Perhaps they are testing the waters with the diversionary concession schemes for the low-income workers and persons with disabilities. If the electorate is as daft as the Old Man once said, they might, once again, get away by robbing Peter to pay Paul.