Essential to get MRT system up to scratch

Despite the debate in Singapore's early years on the merits of having a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system, there is no doubt that the MRT is now a vital part of our lives.

The MRT, as the prime mover of people across our country, has a deep impact on our daily activities, and many Singaporeans use it multiple times a day.

Since the Government has pushed for public transport over private car ownership, it is not unreasonable for the public to expect the MRT to run efficiently.

Yet, with increasing frequency, breakdowns are occurring, culminating in the unprecedented shutdown of both the North-South and East-West trunks during the evening rush hour on July 7 ("2 major MRT lines down for over 2 hours"; July 8).

One would surely be justified in demanding answers as to what is going on and why lasting solutions have not been phased in to eradicate, or at least greatly minimise, these incidents.

One might be tempted to view the health of our MRT system as a barometer of sorts on how our country is doing in general.

Simply, the argument is that if our authorities cannot ensure that the trains keep running, what confidence can we have in their handling of other potentially more vital matters?

Certainly, naysayers and critics of the Government will be quick to make this connection and, unfortunately, it is not easy to lodge a persuasive rebuttal.

Hence, it is essential that concrete steps be immediately taken to get the MRT up to scratch, with rides that are timely, reliable and, hopefully, more comfortable.

With the MRT being an icon of Singapore, failure to achieve this is simply not an option.

Daniel Ng Peng Keat (Dr)