Public transport satisfaction falls following major MRT incidents in 2017: PTC survey

Commuters waiting at Novena MRT station at 6.20pm on Oct 7, 2017, following a train disruption. ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

SINGAPORE - Commuter satisfaction with public transport dropped last year, following serious incidents such as the MRT tunnel flooding in October.

The Public Transport Council's annual public transport satisfaction survey, conducted in October, found that commuter satisfaction fell from 96.4 per cent in 2016 to 94.5 per cent last year.

The PTC interviewed 5,007 commuters, aged 15 and above, at bus interchanges, bus stops and MRT stations for the survey.

They were asked to rate public transport here on factors such as travel time, reliability and accessibility of transport nodes.

Overall satisfaction ratings were brought down by satisfaction scores for MRT services which fell to 91.8 per cent last year from 96 per cent in 2016.

When asked if public transport had improved between 2016 and 2017, 67.3 per cent of respondents said they agreed, compared with 67.6 per cent in 2016.

The number who said MRT services had improved fell significantly to 50.3 per cent, from 60.6 per cent in 2016.

Satisfaction with MRT reliability saw a 13.4 per cent drop, from 86.8 per cent in 2016 to 73.4 per cent last year.

The PTC attributed this to delays on the North-South Line due to testing for the new signalling system.

Areas such as waiting time, comfort and service information also got lower scores.

"Commuter experience is a key priority for SMRT," said SMRT corporate communications vice-president Margaret Teo in response to queries.

She added the extension of rail engineering hours since December have allowed extensive rail maintenance and renewal works to be carried out on the North-South and East-West Lines.

Only MRT station accessibility improved, increasing slightly from 93 per cent to 93.2 per cent, something the PTC attributed to the expansion of the rail network.

Last year saw the opening of the 16 stations making up Downtown Line 3, as well as the four stations on the Tuas West Extension.

Meanwhile, satisfaction with bus services held steady at 96.7 per cent. The PTC attributed this to efforts such as the bus service enhancement programme, which added 1,000 new buses and 80 new bus services over the last five years.

The survey's findings suggest commuters enjoy "more frequent and timelier bus arrivals, enhanced bus connectivity and more comfortable rides" due to such initiatives, said the PTC.

National University of Singapore transport expert Lee Der-Horng said he believes commuters here are reasonable, and sentiment will improve as rail reliability is enhanced. However, he cautioned that transport operators cannot rest on their laurels.

"Upholding reliability and service quality is an ongoing battle," he said.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.