MRT Problems

The nasty train experiences have blown into a huge commotion in Singapore. Several times, the trains in Singapore have stopped in between stations, leaving thousands of commuters in the lurch. Electrical power supplies to the train were stopped, and the light and the air-conditioner were off, making it suffocating in the vehicle. Worse, announcements were unclear to those trapped in the trains. Even after they exited the train about half an hour later, their problems did not stop there. They had to hike between the stations, and many people were stuck in the train underground system. Also, the public transport like buses and taxis were very cram as a result of the multiple breakdowns at around the same time. In addition, both the people who were and were not affected by the train breakdowns were angry they found out that the company had sent a message to their company’s taxis. “Incoming opportunity. Dear Partners, there is a breakdown in our MRT train services from Bishan MRT to Marina Bay MRT stretch of stations.”

The blunt message made it seem that the company did not sympathize with the commuters, but instead, they took advantage of them to earn more money even though they had publicly apologized already. Such a big incident like this has not occurred in Singapore’s transport system. As a result, the people grew very dependent on it, and seemed to even take it for granted. Thus, when an accident like this happened, they felt that the government was not doing enough to keep the transport system in good shape. When a tourist from Spain who once lived here commented that even though there were often riots occurring and stalled the transport system in Spain, the people did not complain about the government. This person was later scolded by other netizens, who said that the government ought to keep the country in good condition since the ministers were paid so much salary. I feel that the response that the Singaporeans voiced out were fine, but the root of the problem is that the people are taking everything for granted. Some creative netizens came up with the slogan – “Saw Must Resign Today”, and they also threatened to vote against the People’s Action Party in the General Elections in 2016 if she did not agree. A portion of Singapore society refuses to see the hard work put in by the government to serve the people, and using this as an excuse to vote against the majority ruling party is ridiculous.

SMRT, which is the only MRT service in the country, has attributed these incidents to not just one maintenance issue, but a few isolated reasons. On the first few times, they claimed the incidents occurred because of the misalignment and wear and tear of the connector shoes of the train and the third rail on the track. However, three days later, they reported that the problems occurred because of a signaling problem in the system. For example, a problem with power rail in some of the train tunnels, and another problem with the signaling systems. This might represent the falling standards of SMRT’s services after such a long time without competition from other companies. I feel that the government should not need to force the CEO of SMRT to step down from her post, as this will not solve the problems. The problem may not necessarily stem from her to begin with. It could be possible that the technicians and the engineers felt that they did not have to put in so much effort, and believed that the system would continue working well if they did not regularly check the system. However, they did not check with their superiors about whether it was okay not to check so often. Even if the problem did stem from the CEO of the company, forcing her to resign now will not be the right solution. If she was the one who caused all the problems, she should know best about the situation and how to solve it.

All in all, I feel that the problem lies with both the people and SMRT – both need to improve. The people need to start understanding how much effort is needed to run a company, and not take all services provided by the transport companies for granted. On the other hand, SMRT needs to understand its importance to the country as a vital part of its transport system and make sure that all its equipment is always ready.

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Hi guys, I'm a student in Singapore, and this are some thoughts and essays I have written over the years.