SMRT creates new role to improve services, champion commuters' needs

Rail operator SMRT has appointed a chief commuter engagement officer for the first time. This is one of several initiatives to improve train services launched by SMRT chairman Seah Moon Ming, reported Lianhe Zaobao.

"Commuters are at the heart of everything we do at SMRT. We see the importance of listening to and acting on feedback from commuters in a timely and effective manner," Mr Seah told the Chinese daily on Tuesday.

He said the new officer, who will officially take up the job next month, will champion the needs of commuters by looking at aspects of MRT operations and maintenance that affect their journey experience.

SMRT noted that the team led by the new officer will further promote the development of SMRT as a passenger-centric organisation that provides a safe, reliable, caring and comfortable train service.

The team will focus on listening to passenger opinions, designing new customer touchpoints, strengthening community ownership and promoting inclusive services.

SMRT said it will announce who is taking on the role and other details early next year.

Levels of public satisfaction with train services have decreased this year over a series of train delays and incidents, including the Oct 7 tunnel flooding that shut down rail services on a part of the North-South Line for about 20 hours.

Commuters were less satisfied with train services than a year ago, according to the Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore for the second quarter, which was released in September.

On a scale of zero to 100, the MRT system scored 64.8 points, a fall of 1.6 points from the same period last year.

A survey commissioned by The Straits Times and conducted between Nov 30 and Dec 4 by Moovit, a public transport app and mapping provider, also found commuter confidence hit by train delays.

The online poll of 711 commuters found that 30 per cent factored in up to 10 minutes more for their MRT trips; close to 20 per cent gave themselves 10 to 20 minutes more; and another 14 per cent set aside more than half an hour extra.

Commuters apparently had more confidence in the MRT's punctuality in the past, as more than half, or 57 per cent, said they did not cater for any buffer time at all when using the MRT three years ago.