SINGAPORE: There are lessons to be learned from the recent problems on the MRT network and the causes need to be established so that things can be put right.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said this on Sunday (Nov 19) at the People's Action Party's convention, which was held at Big Box in Jurong.
"We have made progress, but there have been setbacks," said Mr Lee, pointing to the train collision last week at Joo Koon station which left 36 people injured, and October's flooding in a tunnel from Bishan to Braddell MRT stations which resulted in the suspension of services for about 20 hours.
People are frustrated and worried by such incidents and "understandably so", said Mr Lee.
He said that improving train reliability is a very complicated problem, but the organisations need to be strengthened to deliver consistent high performance.
Mr Lee said that Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and his team in the Ministry of Transport and Land Transport Authority "are extremely disappointed with the recent incidents", which is a sentiment shared by the train operators and their workers on the ground.
And while efforts to improve the train network are showing results, it does not feel like that to the public, said Mr Lee. A key reason for that is that major incidents hurt public confidence a lot.
In his speech, Mr Lee said that Mr Khaw has one of the toughest jobs in Cabinet: "I want Boon Wan and his team to know that they have our full support and confidence," he said, to applause from the PAP members.
It will take time to improve the train system, and there will be more hurdles to clear along the way, he said. "The best thing we can do now is to give our transport team the time and space to fix the problems."
However, Mr Lee noted that he already considered Singapore's transport system a "first-class" one, even if it could be "even better".
He quoted an article naming the four top cities in terms of train system reliability: "Hong Kong, Taipei, Los Angeles, Singapore".
"We're not the best - Hong Kong is better, Taipei is better," said Mr Lee.
"We will get better. But we must see our problems in perspective and we must therefore encourage our team: 'Work at it. Get there. We are with you'."