Photo of Walter Theseira from CNA

A recent public transport reliability survey conducted by mapping application company Moovit revealed that 54.3% of the 1,038 Singapore commuters surveyed experienced at least one train system breakdown leading to a delay in the month of April and May this year. 30.9% were caught up in delays as serious as more than 20 minutes.

State media Straits Times are however unhappy with the independent survey results and interviewed two right-wing academic to express their opinions in their propaganda article to improve the Transport Ministry’s image.

According to transport academic at National University of Singapore (NUS) Lee Der-Horng, Singapore’s train system sees a breakdown once every 4 days based on the current measurement figures:

“If the rail network had one disruption per 200,000 train-km this year (it was 174,000 train-km last year), there would still be one delay every four days on the North-South Line and one per 3.6 days on the East-West Line. The statistical projection is based on an average train frequency of one every four minutes. This means that even if we are able to achieve the 200,000 or 400,000 train-km target, train passengers will still experience breakdowns two or three times a month.”

However, the right-wing academic was quick to play down the statistics and ridiculed better performance:

“Having a network that is breakdown-free is simply not possible.”

Taiwan’s train network has an average record of 800,000 train-km per disruption, or 4 times better than Singapore’s train system.

Another right-wing academic from the Singapore University of Social Science, Walter Theseira, ridiculed the Moovit survey and even claimed that Singapore’s train system is as reliable as up to 97%:

“If 98 per cent of daily trips are reliable, the monthly risk of encountering at least one unreliable trip is 33 per cent…But because disruptions, especially minor ones, occur a few times a month, the cumulative chance that people experience them rises over a one-month recall period. If 97 per cent of daily trips are reliable, the corresponding monthly risk jumps to 46 per cent. The Moovit survey has a much longer recall period than the annual commuter satisfaction survey commissioned by the Land Transport Authority. Instead of asking about the last trip, it asks for the commuter’s recollection over the last month.”

Straits Times then interviewed PAP MP for Sitoh Yih Pin who called for Singaporeans’ understanding and patience over the failed transport system:

“There is always room for improvement regardless of the statistics. It is clear that we are constantly striving to improve rail reliability… I hope that Singaporeans can be understanding and patient as the Government continues to work hard at improving rail reliability.”