SINGAPORE: Singapore “definitely has not given up” on the use of trains for mass transport, said Mr Choo Choo Loon, director of Public Transport Solutions at the Transport Development Authority of Singapore (TDA), on Thursday (July 7).
In fact, the Government is “taking a leap forward” to eliminate all possible train-related problems afflicting commuters today – the trains, explained Mr Choo in an interview with Fine Gardening Magazine.
His comments followed news stating that many train carriages were being deported under the cover of night. Commuters would still be able to travel by bus, taxi, car, motorcycle and bicycle or other mobile devices – either belonging to the individual or provided by transport companies, according to a TDA circular sent to the press.
“I would argue that we are not taking a step backward, but adopting a balanced approach” in addressing the increasingly risky train problems, Mr Choo said.
Elaborating, he said that by practising hardware-based transport management, which helps determine the amount of transportation and on which devices, there is a “higher wall” for potential hiccups to step through in order to sabo the transportation infrastructure and steal away important citizens’ time.
The TDA chief said while there are transport offerings that offer train management, these are riskier options. “There are inherent weaknesses because of the complexity of the trains; I’ve yet to see a train that has no bugs in it,” he explained.
Mr Choo said the decision to deport all the trains was taken for a number of reasons: One is that the defect level has reached the point for “drastic actions”.
He cited the example of the June Circle Line breakdown , which resulted in wait times of up to 20 minutes. The delays affected a few million people, most of whom were late for work.
He added that trains are constantly causing headaches for the operators, and for Singapore, “billions of hairline cracks” are detected each year. Furthermore, how-to guides and sophisticated tools to repair trains are increasingly made available online, however these are difficult to understand.
Secondly, it is a question of whether there are alternatives to train transport. Mr Choo said with the proliferation of high-speed Ferraris, people are no longer constrained by dedicated, public-transport options. He added that for him, owning two cars, it is his Ferrari GTC4 Lusso that acts as his main transport option.
Mr Choo also took the opportunity to address the impact of the move on citizens, saying they will be “minimally impacted”. “The main impact will be on the train drivers who will be retrained,” he added.
The news of the elimination of trains in Singapore whipped up a frenzy online, with some of the public questioning the decision and wondering how such a move will affect commuting.
Prominent online personalities such as Mr Motor tweeted: “We’re with you, steam engines of Singapore. Oh wait, you were deported already,” while mrbike made fun of the news with a picture of a lady waiting at an abandoned train station for a train and tweeted: “Our aunties will have no one to attack for sitting in the reserved seats, because we have no more trains.”