Beneath the idyllic exterior of the cosmopolitan city-state lies a grim reality: the trains don’t work. Well most of the time they do, but every two weeks or so, they cough, sputter and grind to a halt leaving tens of thousands of commuters stranded. Breaking down, it seems, has become the new normal. But what irks commuters even more are the lies.
On a rainy Friday night (Feb 19), SMRT did it again. Train service on the East-West Line (green) between Jurong East and Joo Koon was suspended for an hour from 5.43 pm to 6.42 pm.
Yes we get that SMRT is, on paper at least, committed to improving the reliability of its public transport services. We know that SMRT employees are hard-working people who are doing a seemingly thankless job (maybe you should pay them more). And we also get that when push comes to shove, SMRT can run slick ad campaigns.
SMRT, we understand that even though you pay your CEO $2.5 million, you demand high standards. We get that when your profits from the train service jumped from $3.2 million to $9.7 million in one year, you need to use those profits to reinvest it in upgrades. And of course when you give away more than half of it as dividends to shareholders, we understand that as a publicly traded company you have a duty to reward shareholders.
Singaporeans are very understanding people. 70% voted for the PAP. But you know what? Your train service still keeps breaking down. We can give you time, we can even give you money, just don’t lie to us, and at least show some improvement.
Back to Friday night. SMRT says only the service between Jurong East and Joo Koon is affected. Commuters disagree.
@SMRT_Singapore Train stuck at Commonwealth for 10mins now!
— 유시혜 (@jujaksasin) February 19, 2016
@SMRT_Singapore u should state those on EWL are all affected. Im at redhill, mrt at the stn has been delayed for almost 10mins w/o moving.
— seki (@seki010) February 19, 2016
@SMRT_Singapore Lame. not only jurong east is affected. Stuck in the train from red hill onward…
— Xinyi (@Xinnnnyyi) February 19, 2016
SMRT says free bus service is available. But what does available mean?
@SMRT_Singapore more than one hour waiting for buses
— Shaun Chai (@ShaunChaiLS) February 19, 2016
SMRT says service has resumed at 6.02 pm. Commuters call bullshit.
@SMRT_Singapore Eh hello, 1min delay, another min no train, now resume. U dont cb…
— ★ Otokiru ★彡 (@Otokiru) February 19, 2016
@SMRT_Singapore nah man we still stuck
— Muhammad Afandi (@Afandeyh) February 19, 2016
Then SMRT says service has resumed again, at 6.42 pm. Still bullshit.
@SMRT_Singapore No it is not! I am now asked to get out of the train and stuck at queentown!!!!!
— Xu Yimin (@XuYimin2) February 19, 2016
@SMRT_Singapore TRAIN SERVICE AT BOON LAY HASN'T BEEN RESUMED YET. WHAT NONSENSE ARE YOU SPROUTING?!
— Annice Cheong (@AnniceEatsWorld) February 19, 2016
SMRT has behaved like an employee that goes on sick leave every two weeks without warning, then lies about what it was up to. When Singaporeans find out, they can’t fire it. Instead, it seems that the more handouts we give it, the more it loses the incentive to work. We have become a welfare state for SMRT and eroded their work ethic. It’s a tragic irony.