Singapore – Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung took to social media to apologise for the “rough and stressful evening” for many commuters affected by the MRT power disruptions on Wednesday evening (Oct 14).
Train services along the North-South, East-West and Circle lines were disrupted on Wednesday at about 7pm due to a power fault. Some commuters were stuck inside the MRT up to three hours while others ended up walking along the tracks to go back to the station.
Meanwhile, bus stops were packed, and private-hire vehicles experienced a price surge as commuters looked for alternative ways to get home. The power went back on, and passenger service resumed around 8:40 pm and 10:35 pm on the Circle and North-South and East-West lines, respectively.
According to preliminary investigations by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the incident was caused by a “faulty power cable.”
“Due to the delay, SMRT commenced safe detrainment for passengers on NSEWL trains at 7:30 pm; and at 8 pm for CCL trains,” said the LTA. “LTA engineers are working with SMRT to carry out a full investigation into the incident.”
Early Thursday morning (Oct 15), Mr Ong took to Facebook to apologise for the “rough and stressful evening” experienced by many commuters. “We are sorry for the disruption and all the troubles caused.”
Mr Ong mentioned that around 115 bridging buses and 400 SMRT staff were quickly deployed to the affected MRT stations and bus stops to guide commuters and help them continue on their journeys.
“But it was a power trip, and the lights were out. So the staff used torchlights to shuffle along slowly in the dark,” said Mr Ong.
A friend had messaged him about two passengers feeling unwell while on the train when the disruption happened. “I got the message through to LTA and SMRT to attend to them quickly,” said Mr Ong.
“Safety of the commuters remained topmost on our minds tonight.”
Mr Ong added that there would be students taking their national exams the next day and staff were on standby to help every child get to their centres safely and on time.
Members from the public responded to the announcement, some thanking the team for the prompt action in addressing the situation, others sharing their experiences during the breakdown.
A certain Koo Kok commented on the post, noting it would be essential to track down the cause of the power fault to prevent similar incidents in the future. “Could it be overloaded, due to faulty equipment or faulty switch?” asked the netizen.
A few passengers also highlighted that there were some SMRT staff found to be “clueless” in addressing the breakdown or that bridging buses were non-existent at some MRT stations. “With so many breakdowns in the past, I would have thought that SMRT staff would have their breakdown SOP down pat,” noted the concerned citizen.
“Minister Ong, I was stranded at Dover station, and there were no shuttle buses to the next EW line for a good 1 hour. I appreciate the effort, but please consider having feeder buses to each of the lines that are disrupted. Many commuters who were rushing were forced into grabbing or taking a taxi which resulted in surges in prices. Quite disheartening in this trying times,” shared one Hashen Singh Dhillon. Others added there were no bridging buses at Bartley and One North station too.
“This is a big reminder that train breakdowns will always be a more pressing issue than restarting aviation to get travellers back into Singapore,” said Facebook user Jeremy Tan. Others urged for more focus and study to be conducted on the transport system.
Has been a rough and stressful evening for many commuters. We are sorry for the disruption and all the troubles…