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Less than two weeks into the job, new SMRT CEO Neo Kian Hong said on Monday (13 August) that he has given up his car and will rely on public transport in order to better understand issues on the ground, according to media reports.
“I sold my car earlier on but I didn’t want to buy a new car, because it is more useful for me to take the MRT to understand the issues and take our company’s assets like our taxis and buses,” Neo told reporters, according to a Channel NewsAsia report.
He added that his family had moved to a new home near Shunfu “just to make sure I can take the trains to work and it’s easier for me and my family can support me in doing this.”
The former Chief of Defence Force (CDF) was speaking on the sidelines of a visit to SMRT’s Bishan depot on Monday (13 August). Neo said that he has set out three goals for the rail operator: providing reliability, creating sustainability and ensuring continuous improvement.
The 54-year-old stressed that reliability of services was a “basic requirement” that SMRT would need to provide.
Separately, Neo announced that six new trains will be added to the North-South and East-West Lines (NSEWL) in September, with another six to be introduced in early 2019, in order to meet commuter demand.
They will be the first trains in Singapore equipped with “tip-up seats” to allow more standing space for commuters during peak hours.
Neo replaced the embattled Desmond Kuek, also a former CDF, who tendered his resignation in January 2018 after six years at the helm. Neo was appointed after a “global search” for Kuek’s replacement, said SMRT in April.
Kuek’s tenure was marked by an increasing frequency of rail breakdowns and by numerous incidents such as a tunnel flood that resulted in a 20-hour disruption in train services, a fatal accident near Pasir Ris MRT station as well as a train collision that injured 38 people.