Self appointed observer of SMRT breakdown contingency plans

With the train breaking down getting to become a daily affair, it is only a matter of time before I get to have a first hand taste of what it was like being caught in such a situation. And it would be a good opportunity to see how the SMRT staff copes with the demands during a breakdown and how the commuters could be quickly transferred to the shuttle bus services to their destinations.

I boarded the train from Buona Vista on Friday evening towards Jurong East. Everything was normal. Changed to the NS train at Jurong East and was offered a seat by a young lady. Said thank you for the kind offer and waited for the train to move on. An announcement came on that an intruder on the track earlier was cleared and the train would resume normal service. Oh, I didn’t know that, and good that service was resuming.

When the train reached Bukit Batok another announcement came on apologising that there would be no service between Jurong East and Yew Tee as the intruder incident was still not settled. The train cabin light went off and all disembarked.

An intruder was on the track. Hmmm, if no explosive or fireworks, he would be apprehended in no time. Not to worry. Half an hour or so would be over. Not a technical problem. After 10 minutes the platform was almost empty with only a few hopefuls like me eagerly waiting for the train to resume service.  It was 10 pm.

The station control announced that a free shuttle bus was available from Bukit Batok to Yew Tee for commuters. Well, nothing seemed to be moving might as well. Outside the station control room a lady officer was surrounded by angry commuters. She was relieved when I budged in to ask about the shuttle bus, giving her a break. She said no shuttle bus from Batok, only from Jurong East. What the f…! Never mind, small error. Went back up to the platform. Another announcement, same as before, of a shuttle bus available. Went down again, asked the same officer who again said no. Told her this was the second announcement, asked her to check with the male officer inside the office. She checked and confirmed that there was indeed a shuttle bus at the bus terminal.

So some commuters went to the bus terminal, but no sign of a shuttle bus, no waiting point sign, no officer there, no one knew what the hell was happening, where to wait, where was the shuttle bus. The interchange office was closed and no one to ask. All trooped back to station control. Told the officer what was going on, that they must have an officer or a sign telling people where to wait for the bus. She went back into the control centre to check her files. Thought she found the SOP and went to another office trying to get the signs and whatever out. She was trying to sort things out for the next 15 minutes without anything happening while the commuters were getting agitated.

The best part, the male officer kept himself locked in the station control room and placed whatever card boards he could find over the counter window to avoid communicating with the commuters who wanted to know what was going on. He was lucky that the commuters did not throw bricks at the control station. There was a big crowd of commuters getting angrier every second.

By 10.40 pm the lady officer was still struggling to sort herself out with the shuttle bus procedures and another officer arrived to join her, but still getting no where. They simply did not know what to do. The male officer still locked himself in the station control room and looking very busy with his phone. I looked at the TV screen and saw the messages of train arriving/departing and looking normal. Told the lady officer no need to bother, the service should be back to normal soon. And yes it came back a minute later and the gantries were opened for the commuters to resume their journey.

With trains breaking down becoming a normal daily affair, it was unacceptable, and unbelieveable that a SOP was not available, or available but the staff were unfamiliar and did not know what to do. The male officer was happily making his announcements of free bus service but had no clue where and when the shuttle bus would be. And no one thought it was necessary to brief and guide the commuters to the pickup point of the shuttle bus.

Hello Sir, I think a section leader or a platoon sergeant would be able to do a better job managing the commuters and directing them to the shuttle bus pick up point. It does not even need an officer to be present to give orders. But what happened at Bukit Batok was a dismal failure.  The intruder incident started at 9.30 pm and luckily the train service could resume by 10.40 pm.

No one took charge and no one knew what was happening and where the hell was the SOP. The officers sure did not know anything about the SOP or what to do. Maybe that was the reason the male officer hid himself barricaded inside the control room from the commuters. The only plus point was the lady officer, keeping her cool despite angry commuters all over her and trying to do what was necessary. But she must be properly briefed of the shuttle bus service procedures if she is to do her job well.

What is happening, Desmond? No SOP? Or got SOP but officers not briefed or did not know what was in the SOP? Train stoppages are now a routine and the procedures must be have honed to perfection by now given so much real life practised sessions. It was fortunate that many of the commuters took their own initiatives to switch to public buses and paid extra for the journey. Some commuters were also angry for the fares being deducted and wanting to know when they could get their money back.


Anonymous said...

"It was fortunate that many of the commuters took their own initiatives to switch to public buses and paid extra for the journey. "

It's the same with our Singapore public schools.
It is fortunate that many of the parents took their own initiatives to hire private tutors and pay extra for their children's education.

Anonymous said...

The ceo shld be replaced with someone with commercial experience in the industry. These breakdowns have now become a common occurance and must be resolved. Apologies can no longer be accepted. Headhunt fr senior people in hk mtr to replace those who cannot perform. Have LTY take the train during peak hrs for ONE month to fully comprehend what the public is experiencing. The free shuttle bus service procedures is a joke at times. Lack of coordination amongst the staff and management leds to public displeasure. The problems needs to be nip in the bud NOW. No more excuses.

Anonymous said...

I support Desmond Kuek. Nothing gathers more votes for the Opposition parties than a broken down mrt system.

agongkia said...

Train breakdown is nothing unusual. It is only unusual if train does not breakdown.
I guess a train can carry about 2 k passenger a trip anytime.
Could it be that this shows that Sinkies are getting more prosperous and heavier in weight because they are now richer and eat more.Its a sign of prosperity.What's wrong with having more fats.
This shows that Sinkies are doing well.
Help think of a solution lah.Limit pax to 1.5 k pax. per trip.Maybe it helps.
Can also consider to walk, cycle, skate or jog to work.Garmen never say you must take train.

Be grateful to have comfortable train ride. Not everyone can enjoy such facility.
Sinkies are very Heng leow.

Anonymous said...

You seow ah, limit to 1.5k per trip. Then how to cope with 6.9m? You so clever, what is your solution? You thinking and responsible to come up with solution? How much are they paying you?

You gong kia or seow kia?

agongkia said...

How come you are here and not watching your chin gay show at channel 8 huh? I came here becos my favourite Taiwan show suddenly kena disrupted and replace by the chingay show.I oso disappointed about no advance
notice but come think of it, who am I.Its my fault of not updating myself to watch tv than to hug meimei.

Solution is to go buy or rent and watch my favourite show without depending on others.
Same situation. Go get a bicycle or that motorised type.
Can travel every where .Dun always depend on others .Want take train ride here to save time or trouble must be able to endure breakdown.
I have a solution but cannot reveal here at this moment.This solution can affect our future.Cannot play play.

Anonymous said...

I have a solution but cannot reveal here at this moment.This solution can affect our future.Cannot play play.
March 01, 2015 8:53 pm

PAP also got solution tio bo.
They appointed Desmond Kuek.
If you so good, why didn't PAP appoint you? Bo liao.

agongkia said...

Mai khongcum
How I know you are not so and so trying to kolek my solution here and bring it up as yours, solve your problem, enjoy high salary and secure more votes and cause me more misery huh?
Better to suggest to my ex minister MP .He got better brain.
He should be a minister.

agongkia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Honestly, please go see what they have done to the beautiful hill at Bukit Batok in the name of controlling the rat problem. It looks like a wasteland with fencing, security cameras and spot light. What are they trying to catch, rats or Mat Selamat. Please write about this expansive misuse of money and destruction of the nutural environment