In the latest development over the controversy of SMRT allowing five of its trains to be chartered by Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), the Land Transport Authority (LTA) says it will not be taking further action against the transport operator.
The LTA had said earlier that its permission, as required by regulations, was not sought by the SMRT before the decision to allow the charter was made.
Here is he full statement by the LTA, released on Friday:
In response to media queries, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) would like to explain why all rail licensees must seek prior approval from LTA, the train service regulator, before operating any chartered train services. LTA has a responsibility to safeguard the interests of the commuting public, to ensure that train services are provided as scheduled, and any additional chartered trips do not adversely affect the quality of train services for commuters and the maintenance of the trains and rail network. It is, after all, taxpayers and public transport commuters, who fund the train system. If rail licensees, which are commercial entities, are free to charter out train services as and when they like without seeking the prior approval of the regulator, the commuting public may be the parties adversely affected. LTA takes its responsibility to safeguard such interests of the public, vis-à-vis the commercial interests of the rail licensees, seriously.
2 With careful planning and execution, occasional train charters during off-peak hours can be carried out in an efficient manner without adverse impact to public commuters. For the past charters for National Education shows, the LTA being a member of the National Day Parade Executive Committee has oversight of transport arrangements required, and works closely with partners such as SMRT to allow chartered trains to be provided for students attending the shows. That was why for these past charters, SMRT was not required to specifically apply to LTA for permission.
3 On SMRT’s provision of chartered train services on 26 August 2014, LTA notes that measures were taken such that there was no impact to normal train operations and commuter safety. While LTA will not be taking further action against SMRT, we have reminded SMRT to respect and fulfil its licence obligations, and that its primary focus must continue to be on providing timely and good service to public commuters. We will continue to consider each application by operators to provide such services on a case-by-case basis.