Saturday, December 17, 2011

Little to be desired from SMRT management

SMRT Train
Two train disruption in two days. Each took a few hours to resolve. Hundreds of thousands of commuters were affected. While you can refund people back their money, you can't refund them back their time.

Trains can break down. It inevitable, sometimes.

What's appalling is how SMRT handled the situation. They had no contingency plans for such a large scale disruption. To top that off, they can't even react to the situation properly.

The first thing you should do during disruption is to communicate to people. If it's going to be a long delay, communicate often every 5-10 minutes. These are really basic.

If their PR is so bad, then don't hold a press conference to make a fool of themselves. Find out what really happened so you can answer the grilling questions.

And then there's the "Income Opportunity" message sent out to taxi drivers. That's just stupid. Any person with basic comprehension skills will know that's going to be insensitive.

On the person who broke the train window to get ventilation, SMRT has decided not to take the case up. It should be the other way round. Commuters should take action against SMRT for endangering their lives. Ventilation even on working trains can be quite bad on some days because there are just so many people. I can't even imagine what it's like to be packed in a train with no ventilation.

All these just goes to show that the management is only good when nothing happens. When nothing happens, any person can run SMRT. It's how you react to unexpected situations that counts. And now we know exactly how capable they are in this regard. Incapable.

I've never understood why the government themselves don't run public transport. It's a public good — if you remove it, the country grinds to a halt. So why run it as a for-profit corporation?

And of the recent SMRT & Comfort price hike, wait, aren't they a cartel - not in the strictest sense - but they are behaving like one in public. When you raise prices, your competitor also raise prices. So where are the market forces? They can basically raise prices whenever they feel like it, and the public won't be able to do anything — since they are the only taxi providers, they can't take other transport unless they want bus or train.

I do understand that taxi drivers need that fare hike to maintain their living though — everyone's complaining about cost of living.

Second train disruption in two days draws ire
As criticism mounts, SMRT explains
SMRT should be surrendered to a new Statutory Board
Public inquiry to look into MRT disruptions: PM Lee
Disruption on North-South line enrages rush hour commuters

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