SMRT must fix systemic, structural issues

I congratulate Land Transport Authority (LTA) chief executive Chew Men Leong on the efficient recovery process in the aftermath of last Wednesday's train disruption ("Commuters hit with 2-hour MRT disruption"; last Thursday).

However, it is a growing concern that disruptions have been occurring too frequently in the recent past, causing increasing inconvenience and frustration to thousands of commuters, not to mention the loss of productive man-hours.

Tendering apologies, investigating the causes of disruptions, offering compensation, paying fines to the LTA and making makeshift arrangements when breakdowns occur are not a long-term solution to this crippling problem.

The problem stems from poor maintenance and neglect over the years.

Until this aspect of train operations is fully addressed, with complete transparency and accountability, the outcome certainly looks bleak.

Time and time again, the authorities have given assurances that disruptions will be minimal, yet commuters are still greatly inconvenienced.

In fact, the recurring disruptions indicate a systemic and structural problem with the operations as a whole.

If SMRT is to ensure the smooth functioning of all its operations, it is imperative that management controls be put in place.

Regular audits of the system in its entirety should also be carried out periodically, so that hidden deficiencies can be fixed.

As commuters, we know that the problems cannot be fixed overnight, hence the existing model needs to be reviewed thoroughly.

A responsible public transport operator like SMRT has a duty to be accountable to commuters because frequent disruptions to rail operations have created a crisis of confidence among the travelling public.

V. Subramaniam (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2015, with the headline 'SMRT must fix systemic, structural issues'. Print Edition | Subscribe