Second disruption since fare hike leaves public angry

By Andrew Loh

In the second disruption to train service since the announcement of a 3.2 per cent fare hike for public transport on Thursday, some 19,000 commuters were left stranded on Monday.

A disruption on the North-South MRT line between Yio Chu Kang and Ang Mo Kio MRT stations at 8.11am on Monday was caused by what was reported to be a “signal fault”, and lasted till about 9am when service resumed. The fault caused a southbound train to stall about 500 metres from Ang Mo Kio station.

According to a Channel News Asia report:

This caused a train service delay from Sembawang to Marina Bay MRT stations.

The stalled train had to be pushed towards Ang Mo Kio station by another train carrying passengers.

Some 1,800 commuters from both trains alighted at Ang Mo Kio station around 8.55am.

Train service resumed through the middle track at Ang Mo Kio station shortly after.

Separately, Outram station, which is the interchange station for the East-West line and the North-East line, experienced a blackout as well. The cause is still unclear.

outram

Yesterday, Sunday, 19 January, a power fault occurred on the Bukit Panjang LRT between Fajar and Bangkit stations at about 9.20am. “Passengers onboard the train were asked to alight at the station, and the defective train was sent back to the depot,” SMRT said in a statement. The service was disrupted for about 45 minutes, resuming at 10.05am, the train operator said. [See here.]

At a press conference called to engage the media on the Monday incident, SMRT president and chief executive officer, Desmond Kuek, was reported to have described the timing of the breakdown as “most unfortunate”, the incident occurred just after a fare hike was announced last week, reports Channel News Asia.

smrt_breakdown_20thJan_presscon

The reaction from the public to the disruption was fast and furious, with many who commented online slamming the company, the CEO and even the Minister for Transport, Mr Lui Tuck Yew.

Mr Lui’s Facebook posting after the fare hike announcement on 16 January has to date drawn some 840 comments. [See here.] The majority of the comments lambast him and the Government for allowing the fare hikes despite the frequent breakdowns, and the healthy profits which the transport operators already enjoy.

A Facebook page,  created on 16 January – the day the fare hike was announced – calling on the minister to step down attracted more than 2,000 “likes” so far. [See here.]

Indeed, such calls are beginning to surface online, as the public become more impatient with the frequent breakdowns and what they see as the Government rewarding the PTOs through a fare hike for such sub-par service standards.

Mr Lui was appointed Transport Minister on 21 May 2011, replacing former minister Raymond Lim.

A protest against the fare hike will take place this weekend, 25 January, at Speakers’ Corner. [See details here.]

The minister has not responded to the criticisms so far. The criticisms seem to be widespread, especially online, on other social media platforms, such as the Facebook pages of SMRT, and news outlets which report on the news of the fare hike and the breakdown this morning, on blogs and the pages of socio-political sites.

The LTA says it will carry out an “independent investigation” into the incident and has asked SMRT to submit “a full report” on it.

Here are some pictures from the disruption on Monday:

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smrt_breakdown_20thJan_01

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