Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Please Just Fix The Trains

I’m guessing new Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan felt very Gung-ho when he was arrowed into this job. If he didn’t realise the challenges back then, perhaps he’s now beginning to appreciate the difficulties faced by his predecessor, and maybe regretting accepting the challenge. The problem with our trains, for example, are deep-rooted. Five years wasn’t enough for Mr Lui.

Chinatown MRT

When Mr Khaw first came on board, he was full of rah-rah. He threw the spotlight on engineering people. Yes, we all know that the engineers and technicians are important. Yes, they are our heroes. They made the trains work. As long as no one interfered with them, of course. No one ever blamed them. The problems are not with the engineers and technicians.

Then there was Mr Khaw’s most inappropriate comparison with athletes who represent Singapore. The analogy simply does not make sense at all. He wants us to cheer them along. Say what? Can we not pay fares and simply cheer on our bus drivers and MRT staff? Just give a thumbs up when we board the bus? After all, as spectators, we don’t pay our athletes eh? The government can always pay some incentive if our buses and trains attain some world-class award.

Another key strategy adopted by Mr Khaw to deal with the MRT breakdowns is to manage, to temper, commuter expectations. We’re told that train breakdowns are inevitable, so what’s needed are good contingency plans. See, even the Hong Kong MTR also breaks down.

Mr Khaw’s blog post today, Larger than trains, seems to be telling us a message that he’s a very busy man. Trains are but one small part of his portfolio as Minister of Transport. Yes, we know that. I mean, did anyone think that transportation in Singapore was only limited to trains and buses?

His blog post ended with this message:

This is not an excuse for the next train disruption. We are doing our best to make our rail system even more reliable. I just hope to get Singaporeans’ better understanding and moral support.

Of course it’s not an excuse at all. Not by the slimmest chance. I’m a bit dismayed to read they they’re doing their best to make our rail system “even more reliable”, as if implying it is currently quite reliable. Oh really? Saying this in the context of the breakdown that impacted national exams is really laughable.

I understand Mr Khaw’s modus operandi. A bit of rah-rah here, and a bit of managing expectations there. I do wish we get a better public transport system, without having to wait too long. Also, GrabTaxi, GrabCar, Uber and the likes are all just fine, thank you. Please don’t meddle with them.

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