First World nation needs first-class transport system

Operator SMRT is certainly running out of options to improve its rail services ("2 major MRT lines down for over 2 hours" and "MRT disruption puts strain on buses, taxis"; Wednesday).

There has been no improvement to the frequent disruptions, despite SMRT management's exhortations that everything is being done to give Singaporeans a reliable transport system.

In fact, the breakdowns seem to be getting worse by the day. Tuesday's unprecedented breakdown on two lines, North-South and East-West, has inconvenienced thousands of commuters, coming smack at an evening peak hour when thousands are heading home, with Muslims hurrying to break fast with their families.

The crippling disruptions indicate a systemic and structural problem with the operations as a whole.

The adverse spin-off effect was that bus stops were congested and commuters were left stranded and bewildered, as many did not know the bus routes that could take them home. Worse was that ride-booking app Uber exploited the situation by increasing fares.

Tuesday's massive problems have come in the wake of a breakdown that occurred only in recent days, apart from the numerous hiccups that have occurred in the past few years.

Time and again, the operator has promised that investigations would be carried out so that disruptions would be minimised. However, there has been no respite and train disruptions seem to be the order of the day.

A major overhaul of SMRT train services and all its operations is long overdue, and the Government should take immediate steps to ensure that the system is running efficiently once and for all.

It is exasperating and quite frustrating for commuters to be subjected to an unreliable transport service. With the cost of owning a car quite prohibitive amid already congested roads, many people have no choice but to take public transport that has much to improve on.

Singapore, as a First World country, boasts a standard of living that many countries would envy, yet, it has far to go before it can give the people a first-class transport service.

V. Subramaniam (Dr)