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Taipei Metro gives fare discounts for breakdowns while PAP MP wants fares to be increased

It was reported in Channel News Asia on Sat (17 Mar) that Taipei Metro, under Mr B C Yen who has over 40 years’ experience in the transportation industry, has enabled Taipei Metro to become one of the most reliable subway system in the world, averaging 1,000,000 km between delays (exceeding five minutes).

Singapore's MRT system under former Chief of Defence Force LG Desmond Kuek, however, could barely make the 400,000 km mark. LG Kuek came from a military background.

When he was appointed CEO of SMRT in 2012, then Chairman Koh Yong Guan said, "After an extensive search and selection process, we are pleased that we have someone of Desmond's background and calibre joining SMRT as the new CEO. SMRT is undergoing considerable change, not just in the way we operate transport services and serve our customers, but also how we will continue to grow as a company. Desmond has the attributes and proven qualities to lead SMRT through these challenges."

Taipei Metro upholds high standards when there are delays

CNA also reported that Taipei Metro upholds high standards when there are train delays. Commuters are notified after five minutes, if not sooner. SMRT on the other hand, only informs commuters of delays exceeding 10 minutes. TOC also often notes that SMRT fail to highlight delays when it is supposed to.

Taipei Metro's operation control centre director Hsu Tai-Ming said, "Five minutes is a standard, but if I already know a situation would cause longer delays, I’d start notifying passengers after three minutes."

Indeed, commuter trust is high for Taipei Metro. Taipei resident Wan Qi-Wei told CNA, "We won’t make a point of checking for delays before we head out. We’re very confident in the system.”

Singaporeans, on the other hand, go online to blast LG Kuek and Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan almost every other day:

Taipei Metro gives fare discounts

In 2009, Taipei Metro encountered integration problems during a signal system upgrade, causing delays for commuters.

There were frequent breakdowns, similar to SMRT’s signalling system problems.

To appease the commuters, Taipei Metro gave fare discounts to compensate for the inconvenience caused to the public.

They also put extra staff on standby to take over the automated trains.

In Singapore, however, no such fare discounts were offered to compensate for the frequent train breakdowns caused by SMRT’s signalling system upgrading.

PAP MP Cheng Li Hui wants transport fares to be increased

And to add insult to injury, new PAP MP Cheng Li Hui wants transport fares to be increased and even criticised the Public Transport Council for lowering the transport fares in recent years, during the recent Parliamentary debates.

She said, "The additional operating cost was clearly not captured in our current fare formula setup as a result, operating cost has increased drastically while fares have lagged behind for the last few years."

"Given that operating costs have increased drastically, it is surprising to see the Public Transport Council has granted three consecutive fare decreases," she added.

She also asked for explanations of why fare decreases were granted despite significant increase in operating cost for the last three years.

Ms Cheng herself comes from a very well-to-do family. She is the daughter of Cheng Buck Poh, founder and Executive Chairman of public listed company Hai Leck Holdings.

In fact, she used to be the Deputy CEO of Hai Leck Group. In January this year, she was re-designated as a Non-executive Director on the Board of the company. It's not known if she took MRT or was driven to work.

According to WSJ, she is also a board member of:

  1. Hai Leck Vietnam Engineering Co. Ltd.
  2. Hai Leck Overseas Investments Pte Ltd.
  3. Industrial Services Pte Ltd.
  4. Allied Construction Pte Ltd.
  5. Hai Leck Engineering Pte Ltd.
  6. Cheng Capital Holdings Pte Ltd.
  7. Enzo Investment Pte Ltd
  8. Hai Leck Development Pte Ltd.