“Several transport experts are calling for the authorities to step in to ensure the safety of commuters, after yet another person became trapped in the gap between an MRT platform and a train on Wednesday” (Another Person Trapped In MRT Platform Gap: Gaps Are To Allow Train To Sway Slightly, Miss Verena Lim).
The news report “Another Person Trapped In MRT Platform Gap” (June 15, 2012) by Miss Verena Lim: the current call for the authorities and corresponding public transport operators (PTO) to implement changes, in response to incidents when commuters are trapped between trains and platforms, is exaggerated and wholly unnecessary. It is extremely convenient for Mr. Gan Thiam Poh – a committee member of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Transport – to simply call for the narrowing of the gap, without comprehending the technical rationales for installing the allowance.
Unlike past scenarios which prompted the installation of safety barriers, experts and policymakers from the GPC may be making a mountain out of a molehill this time round.
Any suggestion for immediate rectification is knee-jerk in nature, which fails to recognise that it is imperative for commuters to exercise a degree of self-responsibility – especially if travels are made on public transportation on a regular basis – and to be cognisant of the various risks prevalent throughout journeys. One would expect travellers who are more advanced in years to be the victims of these mishaps, but the past three incidents have highlighted the observation that elderly passengers might be more aware of their surroundings. In defence of SMRT, these cases are awfully irregular, adequate precautionary messages are displayed and broadcasted, and emergency responses have been effective. Chronic overcrowding might have triggered the accidents, but this problem would only be addressed with a broader set of solutions.
Nuanced Recommendations For Public Transportation
Infrastructural and operational changes, nonetheless, are definitely necessary on three separate dimensions: to ease the challenges associated with overcrowding during peak hours (for instance, encouraging and furthering the current practice of queuing for trains); to cope with Singapore’s rapidly ageing population (for example, helping elderly individuals plan transit routes or journeys); and to make bus or train journeys increasingly accessible and manageable for persons with disabilities (such as granting them all-day concessionary travel and lower fares like the senior citizens do, as well as designating particular carriages which have been designed ergonomically for their usage).
The unwillingness to relish in the comforts of the status quo is a positive thing, because it signals a desire for improvement and enhancements; as highlighted above, there are tangible recommendations that the PTOs should consider. However, if they – unnecessarily pressured by parliamentarians – should compliantly yield to every single demand tabled, pedantic then obsession with minute changes could result in unfortunate ramifications.
A version of this article was published in My Paper.