While overseas, I received news on a massive MRT breakdown.
How massive? Well, considering that it affected both of Singapore’s main train lines – I’d say it was really bad.
For those who aren’t familiar; Singapore’s MRT network rooted from our North-South (red) Line and East-West (green) Line. Being so, it is logical that plenty of Singaporean residences are built along these lines. And they’re also the lines that go down the busiest districts of our island like Raffles Place and Orchard Road.
To make matters worse, it happened at about 7PM – which is around the time when people head home-sweet-home after a tiring day in the workforce. And lasted for a whopping 3 hours.
Now, Singaporeans rely quite heavily on our MRT system. Our MRT system is quite diverse and you can get to almost anywhere you need to just on MRT alone. MRT is such a symbol of convenience that without it, some would deem the location to be godforsaken.
If just one of those lines broke down, Singaporeans would already be a little lost without half of their main modes of transport – but then both went down at the same time.
To add icing to this disastrous cake, it happened during the night peak period; crowded with people who have been looking forward to the ride home for about 8 hours.
I only imagined Singaporeans to go…
But my fellow countrymen, lets calm our chicken-riced/laksa-ed/satay-ed/prata-ed selves down…
Sure, it was an infuriating thing to happen.
Yes, our train systems have been breaking down more than usual lately.
And of course it doesn’t help that we have rising transport costs.
Lets look at the bigger picture for a moment.
1. Those Train Lines Are OLD
You want to complain about the Circle (yellow) Line or North-East (purple) line breaking down, it’ll make more sense. But the North-South and East-West lines were built wayyyy back in 1987 – heck, the lines are even older than me! And I sure don’t function perfectly.
So it is rather a given that the machinery will give a rising number of issues as it ages, yes?
You change your computer and mobile phone at least once every few years – and you use it practically everyday.
The trains have worked for Singapore every.single.day since.
2. Maintenance Isn’t So Easy…
Sure, you say you spend money on transport – so it should go into maintaining the machinery for optimum performance.
But have you ever thought on how these maintenances take place?
Think about it for a minute – MRT’s operating hours are from 5.30AM to midnight. Which pretty much leaves the staff 5.5 hours tops to do any maintenance works.
There are 27 stops on the North-South line and 35 stops on the East-West line, each line running for 45KM and 57KM respectively. Do a simple math exercise of 45 + 57, you’ll realise that that’ll add up to 104KM of tracks to maintain.
And doing the maintaining creates noises – which you won’t appreciate during your beauty sleep hours, then some will complain. But then complain again when maintenance isn’t done properly…
Do you see the painful irony there?
3. You Always Want It Better, But You Also Want It Cheaper
Wha…? I’m sorry, how does this work? It simply doesn’t make any logical sense.
Lets be realistic here – if you want something in this world, you need to pay for it.
I don’t understand how people are willing to part with hundreds of dollars for a new mobile phone, but freak out at transport costs rising at a few dollars. Both are important, are they not? Both keep you connected, do they not?
Good transportation isn’t a birthright. You want it, you need to be ready to pay for it. And it isn’t cheap.
4. Sure, There’s Room For Improvement
SMRT is far from perfect. I myself don’t favour their ex-CEO Saw Phaik Hwa very much… Her removal was a good move, in my opinion! 😀
But SMRT wasn’t God, or even an angel. It’s created by humans, run by humans… Hiccups are bound to happen.
And the sad thing about being such a massive public service provider is that people are easily exposed to and affected by any of their flaws. However it is when such flaws are seen that improvements can be made.
For example their crowd controlling – some comments stated that people weren’t handled properly and I feel that SMRT might want to look into educating their staff on some Crisis Management when such events occur.
5. Be Grateful You Didn’t Spend 3 Hours Stuck IN The Train
The trains were at train stations with doors open, allowing commuters to leave the malfunctioning vehicle.
That’s way better than being stuck inside during the entire breakdown.
Commuters were given the chance to step out and find other modes of transport.
6. We Are Still Luckier Than Most
Might seem a little farfetched to some, but I think it’s important to remind Singaporeans that we are a lucky bunch of brats.
While you are complaining about the train breaking down – others never had the privilege to take a train in the first place.
While you are complaining about not getting home on time – others don’t have a home to return to at all.
For a minute, just think about the good things you have going for you.
7. Singapore’s Transport System Is Better Than Many Others
In some other highly developed cities, train breakdowns are a natural occurrence that happens almost every other week.
In Singapore, it becomes big news and punishments must be be implemented! And it doesn’t even happen that frequently.
8. Look At The Bright Side!
It was so heartening when I saw Singaporeans helping each other out. ❤
McDonald’s handing out drinks, people offering car rides… And when else would you appreciate such actions?
If McDonald’s did this on a no-breakdown day, you’ll think it’s a marketing gimmick. If someone offered you a car ride, you’ll probably call the police.
It’s through such adversities that people are given the chance to help one another and build a bond that is unique to the country – which is sadly what a young nation like Singapore lacks.
At the end of the day, it really isn’t anyone’s fault.
Did you think SMRT wanted for this to happen? It’ll just create more work for them! Their Public Relations will go crazy trying to recover the company’s reputation, nasty lashes from the public will go on for a while, people will start poking their noses into their business… The list is quite literally endless.
And definitely the people didn’t want this to happen. Everyone just wants to get to where they have to be without a glitch – and that’s perfectly understandable. You pay for something, you deserve it. Once you tap your EZ-Link card at the MRT gantry, you technically form a contract with the train company to perform a transportation service. And they owe you their end of the deal. However they were unable to deliver their end of the deal as originally planned and provided alternative transport like bus coupons.
Overall I’m just glad that no one got critically injured.
No one died, right? Life goes on then.
Safe travels, everyone!