By Leslie Lee
It could be the highest rated Mediacorp reality show to date. It could become the most talked about SPH organised event ever.
No, it's not Singapore Idol or the New Paper Big Walk.
I am talking about The Great SMRT Crush Load Challenge!
In light of SMRT CEO, Ms Saw Phaik Hwa's theory that:-
"Even at its most crowded, an SMRT train carries 1,400 passengers. This is “not crush load”, where a train is carrying more passengers than the standing load it is designed to carry under normal circumstances. Crush load happens when a train carries more than 2,000 passengers. People can board the train – it is whether they choose to."
I would like to see the local mainstream media take up Ms Saw's challenge to see if it is indeed possible (taking safety and some degree of comfort into account) to fit a maximum of 1,500 people into a single train service.
Ms Saw says that at 1,400 passengers, we still have a choice whether to board the train. So let's try out that theory with a hundred more passengers, but yet not reach 2,000 (because that would be a "crush load"). We will put out a call for 1,490 willing participants for this challenge.
So why 1,490? Because I would like Ms Saw herself, together with the 9 other Directors on the Board of SMRT to be an integral part of this challenge by being passenger numbers 1,490 to 1,500.
How would this work? The mainstream media - either Mediacorp or SPH - together with SMRT - issues a call to action for 1,490 willing bodies of all ages, shapes and sizes (we need a cross section of people - from age 10 to 80 for this exercise) to take part by registering for this event.
On a designated day, time and venue, all 1,490 participants, together with the ten SMRT Directors will report to the train station (or depot, if we can, to make it easier for crowd and security control...we all know how secure SMRT depots are) to board the train.
Since there are a total of six cabins per train service, each cabin will try to board 250 passengers, with Ms Saw and fellow directors leading the way in the first cabin.
If we are able to squeeze all 1,500 passengers on board the train (again, without compromising security, safety and some degree of comfort), we will put Ms Saw's theory to rest and not begrudge SMRT for their systems and processes with regards to passenger capacities.
However, in the event that even a single person is unable to board the train service, or an independent security company deems the service to be unsafe for all passengers, SMRT will provide each of the 1,490 participants with free travel on SMRT train services for one year.
What do we get out of this challenge?
Mediacorp gets a gripping, nail biting one-hour reality show, SPH gets great circulation for a day and SMRT/passengers get to prove a point.
Ms Saw and her team of Directors deserve nothing but the best efforts of all their customers to prove her theory right (or wrong, as the case may be).
SMRT's website puts "customers, the environment, safety, security, community outreach, philanthropy and community outreach" as their corporate commitments. Lets put at least four of these to the test once and for all.
I would be quite curious to see how it all pans out.