Transport delays: Redress not straightforward

Transport delays: Redress not straightforward

When a train breaks down, affected commuters are given a fare refund, while free bus services are also activated, Minister of Transport Lui Tuck Yew told Parliament yesterday.

On top of a fare refund, a complimentary bus ticket for a future ride is also provided in the event of a bus disruption, he added.

Replying to a question from Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten), Mr Lui said a comprehensive regime to compensate commuters affected by transport disruptions is "not a straightforward exercise".

"There are those in a very, very severe disruption who may have to de-train, get down to the track and walk to the station. There are those who are stuck on affected trains.

"There are those who... can drop off at an interchange station and find a way around," he said.

Mr Lui said that current arrangements are "appropriate", and that fines collected from operators because of disruptions go to the Public Transport Fund.

He added that $7.5 million has been tapped from the fund during each of the last two fare hikes to provide lower-income households with transport vouchers to help defray their transport costs.

Mr Lim said that fines collected do not directly compensate the affected commuters, and suggested that an operator give every commuter in a train station during a breakdown a credit of a few dollars to appease them.

But Mr Lui replied that commuters may not accept a blanket compensation: "The difficulty is whether commuters who are inconvenienced to different degrees would accept that an equal compensation applies to all of them, regardless of the extent to which they have been inconvenienced."

The Land Transport Authority will also step up audits of SMRT's rail maintenance resources and processes, while supporting the train operator with engineering expertise, Mr Lui said in a separate written response to Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC)

Singapore's current train delay rate is better than New York City's but worse than Hong Kong's, he added, with the number of delays lasting more than five minutes on the North-South and East-West lines having improved by over 25 per cent in the last three years.

This article was first published on April 14, 2015.
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