The letter below from Mr Phillip Ang was sent to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, and the Land Transport Authority. We thank Mr Ang for allowing us to publish it in full.
Dear PM Lee,
I refer to the high incidence of public transportation breakdowns, the latest occurring on three consecutive days last week.
No system is perfect but the number of breakdowns are clearly not acceptable, especially in Singapore, as cars are priced out of reach and public transportation is not a choice for the masses.
The MRT system has been in service since 1987 when our population was only 2.7 million. In all likelihood, our public transportation had not taken into account a population growth rate of about 100,000 annually. That 'some disruptions and defects on the MRT are unavoidable' must already be obvious to commuters.
The addition of 1520 train trips since 2011 and more than 2900 since 2008 is also likely to have overloaded the system. These additions are still insufficient due to an existing high population growth rate. Further additions are likely to strain the system and cause catastrophic breakdowns, especially inside a tunnel, in future.
During the COI on 16 Apr, the LTA threw the spotlight on SMRT's maintenance. The SMRT countered it had inherited ageing infrastructures from the LTA. Commuters are least interested in all this finger pointing. We only want a system which is affordable and gets us from point A to point B safely. And of course on time.
The resignation of Ms Saw Paik Hwa, ex $1.85 million CEO of SMRT, has clearly not made any difference because it is a systemic problem.
Is the organisational chart of the LTA so complex that makes it impossible to pinpoint who was in charge? Was maintenance so slack due to a high number of foreigners holding technical positions in the SMRT? The solution does not lie only in hardware replacements.
The government must not sidestep the issue of accountability. Thank you.