At a forum on transport infrastructural maintenance today (Dec 4), Singapore’s Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan signaled the government’s intention to take over train operations from SMRT and SBS Transit.

“Our current model separates the designer and builder, LTA, from the maintainer and operator, SMRT and SBST. From an economist’s viewpoint, this allows for more competition in choosing the operator. From an engineer’s viewpoint, it is not so ideal from the life-cycle perspective. If the model was an integrated one, the operational experience should feed back into the design stage, so designs can improve over time, and reduce the need for rat catchers.”

While the Minister have said the change in operations model for public transport will not happen “overnight”, the Land Transport Authority is currently building up its engineering team in preparation for a takeover.

“They must establish a team that is able to take on operations and maintenance, if we decide to move in that direction.”

Members of the public have been calling for the Singapore government to nationalized public transport as private operators are not sharing profits with the public which funds them with tax dollars.