SMRT should focus on transport business

SMRT should focus on transport business

I am appalled to learn that transport operator SMRT is considering going into the telco business, even before it can get its train and bus services to run properly ("Consistel enlists heavyweights for telco licence bid"; yesterday).

One of the reasons for the frequent train breakdowns was that, for many years, SMRT underinvested in maintenance; it was more preoccupied with profits and growing its retail business. As a result, it lost focus on its core mission and business.

Train breakdowns remain a regular occurrence and there have been several security breaches.

Fare increases continue to be explained by increases in operating cost, despite the poor service. SMRT should be spending money to fix these problems or pass the money back to commuters, instead of investing in something that is not related to its core business.

I am disappointed that the Land Transport Authority has allowed these excesses to continue. It may not have the right to stop SMRT from going into non-related business, but it definitely has the right to change the business and operating model on which the train system is run.

Patrick Tan Siong Kuan

This article was first published on April 17, 2015.
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