Dear Ms Saw…

The following is an email which was sent to Ms Saw Phaik Hwa, CEO of SMRT Corporation, on 1 July 2010. As of 23 July, we have yet to receive any replies from Ms Saw.

If you have pictures of crowded trains, pls email them to us and we will update it here on this thread.

Dear Ms Saw,

I refer to the Straits Times report, “SMRT: Tighter security will not mean higher fare”, on 27 June 2010.

Specifically, I refer to your remarks in these paragraphs as reported by the Straits Times:

As to what SMRT plans to do as trains seem to be maxing out their capacity, she said: “Trains will be crowded during peak hours. The question is, how crowded?”

She did not think that trains here are as packed as those in cities like Hong Kong, Taipei and Shanghai.

Even at its most crowded, an SMRT train carries 1,400 passengers, she said.

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,” she said.

As a regular user of public transport, especially the MRT trains, I am rather puzzled by your last remark in that Straits Times report mentioned above. Together with my friends and other commuters, our experiences seem to be opposed to your assertion – namely, that “people can board the train – it is whether they choose to.”

In my personal experience, I have at times had to let one, two or even three trains go by, because they were full and packed to capacity, before I could get onto one. Other commuters have also expressed similar experiences.

It is thus unfortunate that you seem to be laying the blame on commuters – that somehow we choose not to board trains which have space available.

I would like to ask how you arrived at that conclusion:

  • When was the last time you took a train yourself – at peak hour?
  • Is your assertion – that “people can board the train” – one that is borne out of personal experience?
  • Are you aware that the situation of crowded trains has been one dating as far back as 2007?
  • Are you asserting or claiming that commuters are to blame for trains being crowded?

Coincidentally, in the Straits Times report on the same day, it was reported that the Minister for Transport, Mr Raymond Lim, “shared commuters’ concern that the public transport system was getting more crowded…”

Do you share the minister’s and commuters’ concern?

We are glad that the minister gave the assurance that the operators are “aggressively increasing” the capacity of the trains.

And lastly, I would like to present to you some pictures taken by commuters. Please have a look at them and perhaps you could tell us if you expect commuters to squeeze themselves into the trains, packed as they are.

As your remarks were reported in a widely-read mainstream newspaper, and the matter is of public interest, this email to you will be published on the website which I run. It is called The Online Citizen and you can visit it by clicking here.

I welcome your reply and would greatly appreciate it if you could explain your comments as reported by the Straits Times to our readers – who are users of SMRT’s trains – who might be offended by your remarks.

Your reply will be published on our website as well.

Thank you for your patience.

I look forward to your prompt reply.

PS: This email is copied to Minister Lim.

Andrew Loh

Chief Editor, The Online Citizen


The Evidence
Some of these pictures were sent to The Online Citizen, others are from blog sites, news reports, websites and Facebook. If you have pictures or videos of crowded trains, and would like to share them with us, please email them to: [email protected]. We will update this page with pictures or videos as and when we have them.

A short clip which we made in August 2008:

A clip by amicosta:

Pictures of crowded trains taken between 2007 and 2010 by commuters.

Picture by Tan Kian Hwee, July 2010, 6.30pm, City Hall station.


The Straits Times report referred to in the above email to Ms Saw:


Did these commuters at Raffles Place choose not to board?

Raffles Place station


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