Some quick fixes that can win commuter support

Fixing the train reliability problem and all the engineering issues is going to take a while. One can fully appreciate the complexities and intricacies of these problems.

In the meantime, there are some quick wins which MRT operators could work on to ameliorate commuter angst.

These will not require millions of dollars nor engineering wizardry. Some of them are simple service or technical fixes and some have to do with commuter behaviour which could be modified through raising of consciousness and encouragement of graciousness.

I will mention a few for illustrative purposes. For example, are the train door alerts and cabin announcements unnecessarily loud? Some have mentioned that it is presently at a blood-pressure raising loudness.

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Not convinced ? Just compare the volume with that of Japan, Hong Kong and even Thailand.

Another irritant is that of commuters swinging their back packs and bags onto fellow commuters. Surely, even those carrying these items are themselves whacked by others. So why don't they be more considerate and stop the tit-for-tat behaviour?

There is also the problem of commuters talking too loudly on their mobile phones.

Train operators could identify more irritants of this nature through careful observation, commuter surveys and focus group discussions, instead of just focusing on solving the difficult engineering or "hardware" problems.

Perhaps train operators should just give commuters a nudge in the right direction by spotting such cases through discreet in-cabin walkabouts and offering constructive counselling.

This will send the right signal. There has to be human touch to this and not more announcements blasting at commuters on such topics.

Train operators could identify more irritants of this nature through careful observation, commuter surveys and focus group discussions, instead of just focusing on solving the difficult engineering or "hardware" problems.

Insensitivity to such commuter bugbears could cause MRT operators to miss out on some opportunities to improve commuter satisfaction.

Lim Teck Koon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2017, with the headline 'Some quick fixes that can win commuter support'. Print Edition | Subscribe