Thursday, August 12, 2010

SMRT Cares About the YOG, But Not About You

I could barely believe my eyes when I saw this news report on Channelnewsasia:

SMRT to add over 300 more train trips for YOG opening, closing ceremonies
Posted: 12 August 2010 1315 hrs

SINGAPORE: SMRT says it will add over 300 more train trips on August 14 and 26 - the opening and closing ceremonies of the Youth Olympic Games - to bring spectators and participants home after the events.

For the Opening Ceremony on Saturday, close to 200 train trips will be added along the North-South, East-West and Circle Lines after 10pm to shorten waiting time.

Train services will also be extended that day, with the last northbound, eastbound and westbound trains leaving City Hall MRT Station at 1.30am.

The last trains towards Dhoby Ghaut and Marymount on the Circle Line will be adjusted accordingly, to allow commuters to make their transfers at Bishan interchange station.

Likewise, the last Bukit Panjang LRT trains will be adjusted to allow commuters to make their transfers from Choa Chu Kang MRT Station.

For the Closing Ceremony on August 26, more than 100 train trips will be added on the North-South, East-West and Circle Lines after 9.30pm.

- CNA/jm

Why is it that SMRT can bend over backwards to add 300 additional train trips during the Youth Olympic Games, and yet during normal off-peak periods the train stations are over crowded and over packed? (see for example this report on Jurong East, where the trains were coming about every 5-7 minutes - or 12 trains per hour)

That SMRT can afford to add 200 train trips within a 3.5 hour period suggests that there is significant spare capacity during "off peak" operating periods. 200/3.5 is about 57 per hour. Divided by 3 lines, that is about 19 additional train trips per line per hour.

A look at the pictures of the overcrowding suggests that this overcrowding can be easily solved if SMRT were to display the same kind of commitment to its commuters during "off peak" periods of high commuter traffic, as it is displaying towards the YOG. A mere addition of 5 train trips per line per hour during would significantly ease the congestion situation.

This behaviour by SMRT suggests that the transport of its commuters on normal days, are a second-class priority compared to ensuring that there is no transport system cockup during the YOG, so that Vivian Balakrishnan and Teo Ser Luck will not look bad.

In other words, ordinary citizens are being treated as second class compared to ministers.

Yes or no?


Anonymous said...

Just want to point out something. The additional train trips are added way after peak periods, at 9.30pm and 10pm. So it wouldn't help congestion occurring during peak hours. Lucky's post referenced a letter written by a commuter about his experiences during the morning peak hours.

InSpir3d said...

okay. but Jurong East is still congested during off peak hours, when train frequency is way lower than the morning peak periods.

Patrik said...

The YOG sees a huge surge in the number of commuters taking the trains during the time highlighted. Do you want to be packed like sardines, much more than the packed trains during the off peak hours during the same timeframe daily? Sometimes things are not necessarily what it seems. It may seemed due to the event but bear in mind that such crowds does impact your daily life as well. Ponder ponder

InSpir3d said...

LOL Patrick you COMPLETELY missed my point.

My point is not that SMRT shouldn't have more trains during YOG.

My point is, if YOG can have more trains during YOG, why can't they put more trains during off-peak hours when the stations are crowded and packed?


Chee Wai Lee said...

I think I'll have to stick my neck out this time and say that it is fair for SMRT to be making these special extra runs - on the assumptions that:

1. peak hour frequencies cannot be safely increased; and
2. off-peak hours past 10:00pm and 9:30pm do not see much traffic (I have doubts, however, given that shops close around this time); and
3. there is insufficient traffic past midnight. (debatable)

I do no think the SMRT is bending over backwards to do this. It seems to make sense from a economic and crowd-control scenario. One can reasonably expect significantly higher traffic beyond regular traffic as a result of the special events.

I would like to be fair to SMRT on this, despite my great distaste for their CEO's recent statements about "crush load". If I have my way, I'd tell her to push her fat ass into the train for some crush load fun and see how she feels.

InSpir3d said...

you got to be kidding me when you are telling me that SMRT cannot increase the train frequency at 7.24pm @ jurong east when the trains are coming every 5-7 minutes.

in comparison, during morning rush hour they come every 2-3 minutes.

Finally, i never said they should not increase trains during YOG. I said, if they can increase trains during YOG, why can't they increase trains during "offpeak" hours when there is crowding in the stations and there is spare train capacity?

why is it you guys can't seem to understand this simple point i am trying to make???

Chee Wai Lee said...

Ok, I apologize. The picture is much clearer now.

Your question is basically why the SMRT cannot continue to run trains every 2-3 minutes past 7:30pm to clear the massive backlog of people left in the wake of the evening peak-hour jams. In the meanwhile, they have shown themselves capable of doing so for the YOG.

They probably could and should. If I had to guess, I'd say they probably need to hire more drivers, technicians and maintenance crews to sustain the pace over a longer period of time.

singapore man said...

Anyone know why the SMRT cannot lengthen their train?? it will only take months to elevate the congestion, additional retrofitting can be done at the train station to reduce congestion like shifting the stair or escalator, this will also preventing crowding at escalator

Anonymous said...

@singapore man

If you lengthen the train, you also have to lengthen the MRT platform, or otherwise find some way to stop and unload passengers twice for each MRT stop. Similar considerations exist for the suggestion to go "double decker" for MRT trains, much like buses; trains won't fit properly in existing tunnels.

Anonymous said...

I suppose you don't see the difference between doing a one-time extension of service, and doing it day after day and night after night.

For the former, you can ask people to work overtime just once, and pay them overtime just once.

For the latter, you have to throw in a new shift or three, and permanently scale up operations.

Ling said...

well, if you want more frequency of trains during off-peak hours from SMRT, that would mean an increase in labour costs for them, which will lead to an increase in ticket fares for us. majority of singaporeans already feel that public transport is getting pricey, thus, i think what you're suggesting is not going to happen. maybe you should stop looking at this situation from your point of view only. you should see it from SMRT's point of view as well.

InSpir3d said...

"maybe you should stop looking at this situation from your point of view only. you should see it from SMRT's point of view as well."

is it the job of ordinary citizens to be concerned about the profits of SMRT?

PUBLIC transport is just that - public. The rail transport service is first and foremost a public utility. the interests of the PUBLIC come first and foremost in the consideration of the provision of the public service to society. affordability & efficiency of the transportation service is hence the paramount concern here.

Profits of a private corporation are SECONDARY to the public concerns of the quality of the transportation service.

This is precisely the point that the LTA has completely bungled up when it formulated the original conditions of the rail transportation license. instead of paying the rail operator on a tariff basis, it assigned the market risk to the transportation operator.

hence we have an operator which is perversely incentivised to maximise passenger throughput while minimising train throughput.

i will deal comprehensively with this issue in another post