SMRT chief Desmond Kuek sure of regaining commuters' trust

SMRT group chief executive Desmond Kuek at Ang Mo Kio MRT station during SMRT's Inclusive Service Delivery programme launch on Jan 25, 2018.
SMRT group chief executive Desmond Kuek at Ang Mo Kio MRT station during SMRT's Inclusive Service Delivery programme launch on Jan 25, 2018.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SMRT group chief executive Desmond Kuek is confident that the rail operator can rebuild commuters' trust and confidence following two major incidents last year.

He was responding to the results of a Public Transport Council (PTC) survey that showed commuter confidence in public transport dipped following a case of flooding in an MRT tunnel and a collision between two trains.

"Trust and confidence in our network is (something) we continue to need to work on," said Mr Kuek. "I am very confident that we will, in time, rebuild that trust and confidence in commuters," he added on the sidelines of a media event.

Before the incidents, commuters who took part in the PTC survey last July gave a score of 7.89, when asked if they believed that public transport operators were doing their best to provide them with good services.

The score is on a scale of one to 10, with one indicating respondents strongly disagreed, and 10 that they strongly agreed.

After October's tunnel flooding and November's train collision, however, respondents gave a lower rating of 6.69.

When asked if the public transport operators, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Government were doing their best to improve a commuter's journey experience, those surveyed before the rail incidents gave a rating of 7.75, but this figure dipped to 6.70 after the incidents.

STEPPING DOWN? ‘PURE SPECULATION'

I would like to assure you that when I do, one day, as we all must for leadership renewal, you will hear about it from me first. It will not be through some speculative piece in the newspapers.

SMRT CHIEF EXECUTIVE DESMOND KUEK, in an e-mail to staff last Friday addressing the speculation in an earlier Straits Times report that he would be stepping down. He also told the media yesterday that reports about his future were “purely speculative”.

These survey results were revealed by the PTC yesterday, as it made public its second advisory report on how to improve public transportation in Singapore.

The comparative scores were derived from last July's survey of 5,000 commuters, and polls in October and November of around 3,000 commuters following the two major rail incidents.

 

In a press statement, the PTC said that "while public confidence in our public transport system had dipped following the two rail incidents, commuters remained positive that the Government and public transport operators are doing their best to improve their rail experience".

 

In the later polls, commuters gave a score of 7.15 when asked if they were confident that the rail system was safe, and a score of 6.26, in response to the question of whether they trusted SMRT was doing its best to provide a good rail service. These questions were not part of last July's survey.

The PTC's wide-ranging advisory report also delved into commuters' views of the problematic Bukit Panjang LRT (BPLRT) system.

A survey of about 200 BPLRT commuters found that about 51.3 per cent of them were not satisfied with the management of disruptions, especially on the speed and clarity of information transmitted.

To alleviate this frustration, the PTC has suggested that operator SMRT work with community leaders in Bukit Panjang to disseminate such information to residents.

• Additional reporting by Zhaki Abdullah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2018, with the headline 'SMRT chief sure of regaining commuters' trust'. Print Edition | Subscribe