SBS Transit CEO LTC (Res) Gan no stranger to making apologies

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By: 永久浪客/Forever Vagabond

It was earlier reported that the brand new Downtown Line 2 which was opened in less than a year, has already encountered problems causing train disruptions (http://theindependent.sg/opened-less-than-1-year-dtl-already-has-problems).

The new Downtown Line 2 (DTL2) was opened last year on 27 Dec 2015. In May this year, it was reported to have its first major breakdown after operating only for about 4 months.

Apparently, a train inexplicably applied its emergency brakes. The Downtown Line trains operate without any drivers. The affected train, which held up services between Bukit Panjang and Sixth Ave stations, was eventually removed.

On Tue (4 Oct), a platform door at Sixth Ave station collapsed, disrupting DTL services. The breakdown even affected students taking PSLE as well as GCE N-Level examinations (http://theindependent.sg/downtown-line-failed-to-run-as-usual-on-day-of-psle-and-gce-n-level-exams).

A Facebook user scolded SBS Transit, the operator of DTL2, “The old East-West Line from what I know, never had such door damage…but a brand new line with new technology comes with such issues…. seriously dont know how you all do your maintenance work…”

SBS Transit CEO LTC (Res) Gan “not shy” in apologising

SBS Transit CEO, LTC (Res) Gan Juay Kiat, is no stranger to making apologies.

In 2007, it was revealed that SBS Transit had failed in some areas of the Public Transport Council’s Quality of Service (QoS) standards. In the area of bus breakdowns, SBS Transit failed to make the grade in six of the nine months. In the area of safety, it also fell short. At the time, LTC (Res) Gan was the COO of SBS Transit. He apologised, “We are very sorry to have failed in these two areas and apologise to all our commuters for the lapse in service. We will work harder to ensure compliance.”

In 2012, the North-East Line broke down, affecting some 90,000 commuters in one morning. By then, LTC (Res) Gan has already been promoted to become the CEO. At a press conference jointly held with LTA, he apologised (‘SBS Transit CEO says sorry for NEL breakdown‘), “We would like to apologise to all the commuters who have been greatly inconvenienced by the disruptions they faced this morning.”

Last Oct, a 2-hour breakdown in North-East Line hit some 41,000 commuters (‘Two-hour NEL breakdown hits 41,000 commuters‘). It was caused by a trip-up during the testing of a new train on the line. Students who were taking exams were also affected. “We apologise to affected commuters for the inconvenience caused,” said LTC (Res) Gan over the incident. Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan even reprimanded SBS Transit, “Such breakdowns tarnish our reputation, and we are re-doubling our efforts to improve train reliability. Singaporeans deserve better.”

In Jun this year, LRT service on the Sengkang and Punggol Light Rail Transit systems stopped (‘LRT breaks down for 2 hours‘). A train car had stalled in the middle of the tracks after repeated power trips in one evening. Passengers had to get off the train and walk some distance on the tracks to the nearest platform. LTC (Res) Gan told the media that a cable fault was suspected to have caused the failure. “We are investigating the cause of the fault. We apologise to affected commuters for the inconvenience caused,” he said.

Many Singaporeans have, of course, been immune to hearing LTC (Res) Gan apologising. One Facebook user wrote, “Say sorry for what……every week also apologise…..you not shy ah.”

LTC (Res) Gan is an SAF and President Scholar


LTC (Res) Gan obtained his SAF and President Scholarship in 1976. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Engineering Tripos) from the University of Cambridge.

After studying, he started his career in the SAF where he held several senior command and staff appointments. He later tried to venture out into the private sector by joining General Electric as its Divisional Director.

However, he then came back to work for GLCs by first joining Times Publishing as its SVP in retail and distribution. This was followed by CapitaLand (SVP) and Ascott Group (COO), a subsidiary of CapitaLand.

In 2006, he switched to the transportation industry by joining ComfortDelGro as its Group Corporate Planning Officer. He was then assigned to become COO of SBS Transit, a subsidiary of ComfortDelGro, in 2007 before becoming its CEO in 2010.

Super fasttrack for “book-smart” scholars


With regard to the frequent train disruptions occurring in Singapore these days, a blogger has this to say (‘Singapore’s rail system will improve when government stops appointing unqualified CEOs‘), “Not only are SMRT and SBS Transit CEOs scholars, even LTA CEO Chew Mun Leong is another scholar with ZERO prior relevant experience.”

“Parachuting these overpaid guys to run organisations which they are totally unfamiliar with will only invite more trouble,” the blogger added.

“If the government seriously wants to address this issue, it should discard the scholar-right-man-for-top-job system. PAP can’t just super fast-track any book-smart guy to the top and expect him to perform. Maybe in the classroom but certainly not in the real world. This has already been proven many times.”