Wednesday 14 Dec 2011, the MRT Circle line halted for approx 5hrs, Thurday 15 Dec 2011, the MRT North-South line was out at approx 9pm. The SMRT made some public apology to appease the fumed public for the inconveniences caused, and that they were sorting matters out. This morning, Saturday 17 Dec 2011, a repeat on the North-South line again.
Critics have asked for the Transport Minister, who was away in Cambodia, preaching the wonders of public transport systems, to comment on the matter. To which he responded, suggesting that its too premature to conclude if; the consecutive outages were isolated or systematic.
By now, the series of event would’ve sufficed to debunk the myth, that lightning doesn’t strike the same spot twice. To date, its been strike 3 within the same week (span of 4 working days- yes, many in Singaporeans work 6 days a week).
Let’s relook & itemize some areas of incompetence:
1. Passenger capacity has been on the incline ever since the induction of massive foreign labor recruitment, in the name of GDP. Thence, we witness & experience threshold commuting where passengers breathed in each others’ faces.
2. Increased train frequencies translates to increased wear & tear, overdrive perhaps on the system that was designed for specific capacity. Hence, possibility of premature equipment degradation.
3. Under normal safety practice, like in most lift cars. When primary power supply fails, the reserve power supply must succeed, and if reserve fails, battery supply takes over to facilitate travel to nearest destination. Curious enough, what ever happened to all that reserve, resulting in; blackout, zero air circulation, stranded trains in the tunnel?
4. Time taken to inform trapped passengers of the situation, and/or to inform passengers of the evacuation procedures, seemed to have taken eons. Not to mention, the physical response time taken to free the trapped passengers was way too slow to be considered acceptable.
5. Dismissal of crowd choking at train stations, who could not and will not be able to enter the trains wasn’t adequately handled, resulting in less fluid rendering of assistance by paramedics & staff.
Further to add, slow broadcast of information to the general public, while deployment of transit law enforcers were seen clueless and didn’t deploy themselves adequately, to controlling crowd & diverting human traffic flow.
In a nutshell, let’s hope the movers & shakers in the public transportation industry should learn from this episode, and improve on the necessary.
Not forgetting, the present state of service hasn’t adequately justified the not too recent fare hikes.