Friday, July 29, 2011

More Trains Coming

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.


  1. Root of the transport problems bothering our citizens is that the demand from overpopulation exceed the supply of such services apart from the blatant lack of competition. This surely will be the same major election issue among others such as housing, healthcare, job discrimination of locals etc etc. 5 years from now. It cannot be helped, remember!

    PM Lee will make another big sorry apology in 2016 but it seems that the establishment will still get away with it because the daft 60 % has short memories. By then the discomfort may be forgotten because citizens got used to it. LOL

  2. Im confused. If SMRT is publicly listed, why is there ministerial "intervention" into how it is being run, and how is the Minister able to commit the funds mentioned. Looks hybridised to me. It is still owned by the government but conveniently shielded by the listing.

  3. Real taxpayer7/29/2011 2:50 PM

    A previous reader highlighted the fact every officials from top-down have come up to defend a public-listed transport co. for its fare hikes against people's wishes are sure signs that all is not well. You have to wonder why Ms Saw is the CEO to begin with. Her reaction and response have been so retarded, which perhaps explained why she needed a Ferrari toy to make her feel that's she is moving on the faster (personal) track than the ones she's managing for the public. No wonder there's total disregard and silence to the pleas by the handicapped & students. Perhaps high time the higher ups move her to run a certain Jet quay terminal for some VIPs to meet her higher aspirational needs instead.

    So after prolonged unsatisfactory service levels that commuters have put up, we are beginning to wonder if there's going to be any bright lights coming out of the tunnel soon. Instead, what we got was the usual careless "let's throw money to fix the problems" mentality. And of course, we the taxpayers bear the brunt. With 5m pple to serve, our govt or bureaucrats must formulate high-quality policy, let alone merely outmatch the current dimwittedness of the duopolies. So far it's been so unconvincing. CPI + Wages benchmark is ok, but where's the customers satisfaction in play?

    We really need leaders who can eat administrators for breakfast. Our Ministers have been so unchallenged, bland and shallow to read the grounds these days, I'm stomping my feet & lip synch "I don't know what to say".

  4. Hi,

    If i recall correctly, the news last night say that the 13 extra train cars will only be delivered in THREE years time! How's that for efficiency?

  5. I have always wonder what was the CEO's qualification that got her this job in the first place? Did she have experience in Mass transit systems, public transport or CEO / Senior management skills? Her salary seems impressive but wonder if the credentials match...

  6. >>..the 13 extra train cars will only be delivered in THREE years time!

    While the population remains unchanged???

  7. It costs SMRT money to improve service to Singaporeans.

    Salary of CEO is linked to profit of SMRT.

    So why would any sane SMRT CEO want to improve service?

    Just tell us and we'll stop complaining.

    Or else change the laws so that we can organize boycotts and sit-ins at SMRT headquarters.

    We are just plain tired of giving feedback to Transport Ministers playing musical chairs.

  8. @ 9.30am

    And change the laws so that we have a right to free assembly in public.

    Then citizens will be free to organize ourselves and look for our own solutions.

    No need to trouble government with feedback. And then get scolded for being champion complainers.