National Transport Workers Union tells Govt that it should get the public to help when trains break down

The National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU) has recommended to the Government that it should rope in the public to help when trains break down.

In a statement today, the NTWU said that Singapore should “build a community of commuter volunteers – who can be trained as first responders to assist our front-line workers during service disruptions or emergencies.”

NTWU’s suggestion comes on the latest public transport fare hike that went into effect last month. The fare increase is expected to yield a S$78.2 million increase in fare revenue for public transport operators in 2019.

Of this amount, train revenue is expected to go up by S$35 million, while transport operators like SBS Transit and SMRT will see a S$10.9 million and S$24.1 million increase, respectively. LTA, which administers bus contracts, is expected to take the remaining S$43.2 million.

Despite these increases, NTWU seems to suggest that the onus of picking up the slack when train services break down should fall to the public.

NTWU made its recommendation as part of a list of suggestions for the Land Transport Master Plan 2040 advisory panel, which has requested feedback submissions on how Singapore’s land transport system can be best shaped for the coming years.

Besides asking the authorities to get the public to help in the event of train disruptions, NTWU also suggested that the authorities could:

  • implement more full-day bus lanes;
  • carve out dedicated lanes for cyclists;
  • restrict roadworks to off-peak hours;
  • prioritise ease of maintenance as they design transport infrastructure;
  • ensure workers get sufficient rest even as new performance targets are imposed;
  • emphasise training that goes in line with rapid technological changes; and
  • roll out more parking lots at bus interchanges to support expanded bus fleets.

NTWU’s executive secretary, Melvin Yong, asserted that the union’s recommendations are focused on “enhancing the work environment of our public transport workers, ensuring the safety and health of our workers, preparing them for transformation, as well as building greater commuter support so that we can all promote a better travelling environment for all road users.”

Yong, a ruling party politician who serves as Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC, added: “A first-class transport system needs a first-class transport workforce.”

The Land Transport Master Plan 2040 advisory panel will consider the feedback it receives and submit its own recommendations to the Government, next month.

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