Why the fuss over chartering of trains?

Why the fuss over chartering of trains?

I READ with dismay that SMRT faces possible sanctions for permitting Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) to charter its trains to transport students to a rugby match ("SMRT faces sanctions for allowing private use of trains"; Wednesday).

Some members of the public have criticised the decision to allow public transport to be used for private purposes. However, let us examine the issue objectively.

The Schools National C Division rugby final can hardly be considered a private function. It was a major event that necessitated ferrying up to 3,000 supporters to cheer on the school team.

This is also not the first time SMRT has provided such charters, as it has ferried tens of thousands of pupils from many schools to National Education shows in recent years.

Why has this charter by ACS(I) become such a big issue, since most commuters were not affected by the one-way off-peak arrangement?

Was SMRT's primary focus to serve the commuting public affected? Since the chartered trains ran between normal train services and intervals were maintained at normal levels, we know the answer to that question.

SMRT should be lauded for working with schools to ferry students to large-scale national events, such as National Day Parade rehearsals, safely and efficiently. Would the alternative of chartering up to 80 buses be more viable, or lead to even more flak from the public and motorists?

If a neighbourhood school had chartered the trains, would it be as savagely criticised?

ACS(I) is seen as a brand-name school with many of its students coming from privileged families. Is this the reason for the public backlash?

The whole issue may be nothing more than a storm in a tea cup fuelled by critics taking a shot at perceived elitism.

This article was first published on August 30, 2014.
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