KENNETH LIM: I am bothered by SMRT Corporation’s seeming inability or refusal to exercise its “enterprising muscle when managing its operating bugbears”.
I doubt it is fair that fares continue to increase when train services remain unreliable and SMRT’s profits continue to rise (SMRT’s Q1 profit rose 37%)
The fact remains that the chartered trains did not inconvenience the public and, in fact, alleviated the load that other trains would have been subject to if students and teachers had taken normal public transport to the venue.
Clearly, the LTA’s purpose in requiring permission was to “ensure train services are provided as scheduled” and that chartered trips “do not adversely affect the quality of train services for commuters and maintenance of the trains and rail network”.
It is also clear that its decision not to take further action was based on its observation that SMRT had taken the necessary measures .
Seen in this context, I understand why the LTA chose not to strictly enforce a rule whose ends were ultimately achieved.
Therefore, while I agree greater scrutiny and supervision of SMRT is required, we should be careful not to infer from the LTA’s non-action that “a public transport operator can offer special privileges at a price”.
SMRT’s decision to allow train chartering was neither wrongful nor did it cause inconvenience. This incident should not then distract us from the greater public transport issues that need to be addressed.
This letter was written by Kenneth Lim.