Thursday, April 9, 2009

Our transport operators have demonstrated their commitment to meet commuters' expectations so we will just penalise them a hundred dollars!


Ah Tan stepped into the office when the clock on the wall struck nine exactly. Most of the junior officers were already typing away on their desktops and some greeted him as he walked past them. While yawning, he slowly walked into his cubicle. There, he found Ah Looi sitting in front of his desk and talking on the mobile phone.

AH LOOI: Yes, Mr Goh, no kidding. You just have to pay a hundred dollars, that's all. Yes... yes, nice working with you too! Bye!

Ah Looi hang up the call and saw Ah Tan sitting down and switching on his desktop.

AH LOOI: Hey, sorry, didn't see you coming in!
AH TAN (smiling): No problem. You were pretty engrossed in that call.
AH LOOI: Yah, it was Mr Goh from the SMRT.
AH TAN: Oh... you guys received complaints about the train service again? Or somebody got knocked over by the train again?
AH LOOI (chuckling): Hahaha... if I have to call him each time we receive a complaint about the train service, I'll have to put him on my mobile's quick-dial! Nah, it is regarding the latest review that we did for public transport, to ensure that they meet the Quality of Service standards.
AH TAN: Oooh... that time of the year again? No wonder you were so busy recently! So how was it?
AH LOOI: We imposed financial penalties of $4,500 on SBS Transit and $100 on SMRT.

Ah Tan raised his left eyebrow, leant back on his chair and folded his arms.

AH TAN: $4,500 for one and $100 for another?
AH LOOI (nodding): Yap! That's because we found 19 SBS Transit buses not compliant but only one bus from SMRT was not compliant!
AH TAN (rubbing his chin): Only 19 from SBS Transit and just one bus from SMRT not compliant? Among the many buses running around the country? Just one?
AH LOOI: Well... according to the survey result...
AH TAN: And how was the survey conducted?
AH LOOI: Hmm... from what my officers reported to me, apparently they had some interns and part-timers to sit around some bus stops to take note of the buses frequencies and their capacity.
AH TAN: All over the country? Wow! That's some big project!
AH LOOI: Yah, and after the data was back, my officers had them put into some spreadsheets and did some kinda calculation and well... there you see the result!
AH TAN: Hmm... but I still find it hard to believe that only one bus from SMRT is overcrowded... Are you sure the survey results could be trusted? I mean, what if there were human errors? Like... what if these surveyors only started work after the morning peak hours and knocked off before the evening peak hours? Or what if the overcrowded buses arrived at the bus stops while they went for long breaks? That's how we lost Mas Selamat you know!
AH LOOI: Well... I guess I have to trust those surveyors right? I personally don't take buses, and almost all of my officers are driving! We won't know how is it like to take buses!
AH TAN (nodding): I suppose you're right... taking buses... I can't even remember when was the last time I took a bus! I'll imagine it's like...

Both men sat back and closed their eyes for a moment. They frowned, then re-opened their eyes and sighed.

AH LOOI: Too difficult!
AH TAN: Yah... that's too much for me as well!

Both men took out their handkerchiefs to wipe their perspire.

AH TAN: Hey Looi, are you going to do the same review for the trains?
AH LOOI (gasped): Are you kidding me? Review the service quality of our trains? I'm not going to open a big can of worms!
AH TAN: Wow... relax man! Just a casual question! You mean our trains are that bad huh?
AH LOOI: Well, personally I won't know, since I don't take trains... but we've heard so much urban legends!
AH TAN: What kind of urban legends?
AH LOOI (eyes wide open): You mean... you haven't heard any of those urban legends? Like during peak hours, how the trains arriving at some interchanges are so overcrowded that people have to take the third or fourth train? Like the Jurong East station was so overcrowded on the weekday mornings that there was not enough space to stand on the platforms? Like the trains at Raffles Place station will sometimes arrive at an interval of as long as ten minutes?
AH TAN (gasped): Wow!
AH LOOI: Scary, isn't it? And sometime ago, there was this email circulating around the office showing a picture of the Jurong East station. It was horrendous! The whole platform was so overcrowded that you can't even see the ground! It was like looking at a Third World country's train station! Like India!
AH TAN (excited): Hey! Forward me that picture!
AH LOOI: Okay, will do. But my officers are saying that picture must have been photoshopped.
AH TAN: Possible! People these days have too much free time!
AH LOOI (nodding): Yes, people these days are really too free! Just look at the massive amount of trivial complaints that we receive almost everyday! "I waited more than twenty minutes for the bus", "The overcrowded bus won't stop at the bus stop", "I can't get onto the overcrowded train"... blah, blah, blah... these people just won't stop complaining!

Ah Looi paused to take a deep breath.

AH LOOI (sighing): You know, what I don't understand is that, if these people are really that unhappy taking the public transport, why don't they just buy a car?



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