MRT breakdowns, like floods, are now part of Singapore life

COMMENT

Clench your teeth and bear with it -- floods and MRT breakdowns are here to stay.
 
While #SGFloods is so 2011, #MRTbreakdown is what’s in now.
 
Wednesday morning’s breakdown on the Circle Line was the third MRT disruption since last Friday and, by all accounts, it won’t be the last.
 
I’ve lost count of how many have taken this place year alone. But the real clincher for me was when SMRT started handing out chit sheets on Wednesday for those who were going to be late for work or school.
 
Wow, imagine that – a public transport operator with ready-made “excuse me for being late” notes for its commuters. How prepared.
 
And all this is taking place even as a high-level Committee of Inquiry investigates the breakdowns of last December, as if those were one-off incidents.
 
Whatever preventive measures that have been put in place by operators SMRT or SBS Transit since the twin December disruptions are obviously not working.
 
And if we’re going to have a COI report for every breakdown going forward, well, those experts are going to be stuck in  committee hearings all year.
 
But you know what? I suspect that things will calm down soon.
 
Remember how there was widespread public outcry after the first Orchard Road flood in June 2010 and other floods later that year? What followed was plenty of finger-pointing between the URA, PUB and the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources.
 
A succession of climate change and urban planning experts were presented to the media and, in the end, what were we, the people, left with?
 
A mish-mash of hazy explanations covering everything from over-development in built-up areas, run-off due to the Marina Bay reservoir, not “flooding but ponding”,  to my favourite, “it’s the change in weather patterns.”
 
And now? Everytime we look out the window and it’s pouring cats and dogs, we mumble something about floods, check our Twitter feed and take a photo or two, and carry on with life.
 
Seems to me like exactly the same thing is happening with these train breakdowns.
 
LTA? SMRT? SBS Transit? To the average consumer, will it really matter who's to blame when all they want is to get where they need to be on time? 
 
Between rail claws falling off, snapped power cables, “teething problems” and “electrical earth fault” issues, even Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew was left to concede last week that disruptions are now “unavoidable”.
 
So basically it’s a sad mess.
 
But in an almost laughable sort of way, we’ve begun to accept it as part of Singapore life – just like the floods.
 
You know how we used to make fun at our third world neighbours for similar infrastructure problems?
 
Well, guess what, the joke’s now on us.

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