SMRT wants you to be crushed before they realise they’re maxed out

My original letter to ST, put here because they conveniently excised my criticism of Transport Minister Raymond Lim.

I would be impressed by any Member of Parliament that takes the MRT or bus to work every day. He/She would almost certainly have my vote, because the person would also understand what it means to be in our boat.

Dear Editor,

An article in the Sunday Times on 27 June 2010 quotes the Chief Executive Officer and President of SMRT Saw Phaik Hwa in her response to the public opinion that “trains seem to be maxing out at their capacity” (“SMRT: Tighter security will not mean higher fare”). She says that although crowded, trains are not at “crush load”, and that “people can board the train – it is whether they choose to”.

She should try taking the train herself on weekdays mornings between 7.30am and 8.00am at some stations in the West such as Choa Chu Kang, Bukit Batok, or some in the East such as Bedok or Eunos. Alternatively she should try making a train switch at Jurong East or Yishun station on weekday evenings between 6.15pm and 6.45pm. She can then consider revising her opinion on whether commuters have a choice in boarding the train or not.

Surely we should not wait for trains to be at “crush load”, defined by the article as carrying more passengers than designed (and hence illegal?), before we deem a system to be at carrying capacity? As it is, passengers have to frequently skip an overcrowded train several times in a row before landing one with safe standing space within the confines of closing train doors. Tempers flare not irregularly among commuters at these times.

In an article on the same page (“Minister checks out the bus ‘squeeze’”), it was reported that Transport Minister Raymond Lim makes checks on buses in the Woodlands and Bukit Panjang areas, and claims that service standards are met.

The standards of a transport system are measured at its limits. Perhaps Mr Lim can ask around for the busiest bus stops to test out, or try out the train stations that I have listed above. Transport operators and politicians should take the collated feedback of regular commuters more seriously rather than relying on their own experience as a handful of infrequent passengers.

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1 Comment

  1. 1 November 2010 at 06:18

    it is quite sad that most train stations these days are horrendously overloaded ..


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