Yesterday, it happened yet again. It was Monday morning, the first work day of the week and thousands of commuters were rushing off to work. When I went down the Junction 8 elevators of the mass rapid transit station, a scene greeting my eyes, and I immediately knew what had happened. The transit train service had failed once again. Hundreds of commuters were waiting impatiently for a train that did not arrive at the south-bound platform. This was about 8.15 am in the morning.
I waited for a few minutes to to see if there were any announcements, but there was none. As I needed to get downtown by 9.00 am I decided to take an alternate route through the Circle Line and NorthEast Line to get to my destination, Tangjong Pagar. At least I had an alternate route and I immediately acted on it. I pity those who decided to wait at the long lines for the next train. As I understand from the news report later that night, the disruption was slightly more than an hour, although SMRT had declared that the delay was only 20 mins. on the ride.
Now London and New York are much larger cities, and yet despite vilification on their operational efficiency, their metropolitan mass rapid transit systems continue to operate, in spite of the occasional 'failures'. The rapid transit systems are only as good as the you maintain and improve on them.
I think there is much to be learnt from those who have much much more experience in running such systems over long decades of operations and we should have more humility when making comparisons in the future.
31st of January 2014 marks the beginning of the Chinese zodiac year of the horse. It is only 18 days more to the Spring festival which is celebrated by all ethnic Chinese as part of their cultural heritage. China, itself, will see an internal mass migration of hundreds of millions, as they travel and make their way back to their home towns and villages.
As for the other Chinese communities in the diaspora of Southeast Asia, a number will also make such trips. I am one of such and will be travelling back to my home city of origin, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The horse is considered a strong animal, used for many centuries as a means of conveying people and goods. It is also known as a hard worker. For those under this zodiac, it would not be unusual if the Chinese were to ascribe the same characteristics to the people born under this zodiac sign.
Wishing all my Chinese friends Gong Xi Fa Cai