What was once a source of national pride has now become a source of national embarrassment, with the MRT collision at Joo Koon station yesterday morning being the latest in a string of service breakdowns that have plagued Singapore’s public transport system and inconvenienced countless commuters in recent years.
Yesterday’s train collision is especially notable since at least 29 people were injured and had to seek medical attention from local hospitals.
The train collision has gained widespread international traction, with several news outlets commenting on the collision – which is the first such incident since 1993 – yesterday.
“The incident is the latest blemish in a city known for its efficiency, tree-lined highways and slick infrastructure. Singapore’s mass transit system has been strained as the population expanded, leading to multiple breakdowns and delays especially in the past six years, symptomatic of a learning curve the city faces as it upgrades infrastructure rapidly to cope with more people.”
An Agence France-Presse report noted how far Singapore’s public transport system has fallen from once being the “envy of its neighbours”:
“Both LTA and SMRT said they are investigating the incident, which sparked a fresh round of criticism on social media of the metro system, once the pride of Singapore and the envy of its neighbors.
“The densely populated city state’s metro system has been hit by repeated delays and breakdowns in recent years, generating public anger in a financial center where the cost of car ownership is among the highest in the world.”
Popular British publication, The Daily Mail included an interview with a Singapore transport expert who urged the government to take a “fundamental relook” into local public transport:
“The densely-populated city-state is highly dependent on public transport. It is one of the world’s most expensive places to own a vehicle and recently announced that it will not allow any net growth in its car population from February next year.
Associate Professor Lawrence Loh, an expert on corporate governance at the National University of Singapore Business School, said the collision gave a “whole new dimension” to the train problem.
“‘While the recent disruptions merely give rise to inconveniences for commuters, we now see human injuries. Thus it is really time to take a fundamental relook at our public transportation system.'”
Across the causeway, Malay news outlets appears to be kinder, providing a straight report of the incident, without notable commentary.