Be forthright with Singapore’s public transport

I refer to the 14 Jul 2014 Straits Times letter “Be appreciative of Singapore’s good public transport system” by Ms Gina Ng.

Ms Ng wants those who complain about MRT delays or breakdowns to consider MRT’s 25 years of faithful good service and not take it for granted. But MRT delays, congestions and breakdowns have persisted for nearly three years already. It is not a one off delay or breakdown that Singaporeans can understand. How long must the delays or breakdowns persist before Ms Ng would agree to complain? 25 years?

Ms Ng points to more buses being added to shorten peak hour waiting time. But what is the point of adding more buses when the roads are jammed during peak hours?

Ms Ng cites her visitor friend often praising our public transport for its efficiency and convenience. Can Ms Ng also share where her friend comes from? Taipei or Timbuktu?

Ms Ng praises Singapore trains as affordable, takes you anywhere and equipped with air conditioning. But the recent public transport study by Credo gives Singapore a lowly score of only 3 out of 10 for public transport affordability and 4 out of 10 for network density. The table below shows that when these two factors are considered, Singapore ranks lowly amongst First World cities.

City Affordability Network density Average
Hong Kong 5.5 10 7.8
New York 5 8 6.5
Tokyo 5 8 6.5
Vienna 2 10 6
Stockholm 1.5 10 5.8
London 1.5 9 5.3
Madrid 2.5 7 4.8
Berlin 2 7 4.5
Copenhagen 2 7 4.5
Seoul 6 3 4.5
Los Angeles 4 4 4
Melbourne 2 6 4
Sydney 2.5 5 3.8
Paris 3 4 3.5
Singapore 3 4 3.5
Toronto 3.8 3 3.4
Chicago 3 3 3

Ms Ng postulates that Singapore complainers have not experienced worse transport systems in other cities. But most First World cities have transport systems comparable to or better than ours. Is Ms Ng referring to worse transport systems in Third World countries? What’s the point of comparing with Third World countries? Do Singaporeans deserve Third World transport systems? If we do, what’s the point of paying million dollar minister salaries and enduring their constant self-praises?

Ms Ng urges Singaporeans to appreciate and not take our transport system for granted. It is Ms Ng who should appreciate the situation as it is and not take Singaporeans’ good will for granted.

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