Our MRT system is broken and, really, “no medicine can help”. Singaporeans should not continue hoping for a miracle from PAP, the culprit who created this mess.

The design of our MRT system started in 1972 during Lee Kuan Yew’s “Stop-At-Two” policy. LKY’s policy contributed to a drastic reduction in the number of births which fell from more than 40,000 a year in the 1960s to about 34,000 during the subsequent decade.

Year Population Inc ‘000
1971 2,112.9 38
1972 2,152.4 40
1973 2,193.0 41
1974 2,229.8 36
1975 2,262.6 33
1976 2,293.3 31
1977 2,325.3 32
1978 2,353.6 28
1979 2,383.5 30
1980 2,413.9 30

The key question to determine if our system is doomed to failure: was it designed for the current population? Evidence suggests our MRT system planning couldn’t have anticipated population growth to treble to 100,000 a year 2 decades later. Should commuters expected a system which is not designed for the current passenger loading to function properly?

But PAP threw common sense was thrown out of the window and relied on hope for its ‘planning’: from 1990 to 2015, our population increased at the rate of about 100,000 annually for 25 years!

PAP couldn’t and still cannot put a stop to such an insane population growth rate because our economic growth model is not driven by productivity but population growth.

So while its epic error is being rectified, the system is forced to continue running at max speed due to increasing daily ridership. Are we not inviting the mother of all major disruptions?

In 2008, 21 years after MRT started operations, Lee Kuan Yew said that Singapore’s optimum population should be “5 to 5.5 million”. Logically, LKY’s projected population growth decades earlier could not have been anywhere close to our current population growth of 100,000 a year. Triple confirm there will be more regular major disruptions.

Commuters should not engage in wishful thinking: our MRT system cannot run without major glitches as our population surges.

The system is running at max speed and all SMRT can do is keep its fingers crossed because there is really no room for error.

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