My initial delight at the move by Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) to charter trains to ferry students to a rugby final has turned to dismay after finding out that the Land Transport Authority is considering sanctions against SMRT ("SMRT faces sanctions for allowing private use of trains"; yesterday).
The innovative idea seemed like a win-win arrangement. It was a unique, cost-effective way to foster cohesion and school spirit among the students, while allowing SMRT to utilise its excess capacity during off-peak hours.
In contrast, the LTA's decision to reprimand SMRT for "not seeking approval" displays an inability to look beyond set rules and fixed parameters.
I believe measures were taken by SMRT to minimise disruption to the public, by running the chartered trains during off-peak hours and alternating them with normal train services. And there have been no reports of train delays or of service delivery to the public being compromised.
At a time when the Government is trying to encourage thinking out of the box, talk of imposing sanctions against SMRT seems counter-intuitive, even if the rules were bent a little.
One hopes that the LTA, along with other government agencies, can exercise more flexibility in future.
Collin Ho Yih Xian (Dr)
This article was published on Aug 28 in The Straits Times.
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