'SMRT clueless in this new media age'

Jeffrey Oon
18 December 2011


It really beggars belief.

If the photo above is any indication, it’s no wonder SMRT is so totally clueless about communications in this new media age.

How can its recently launched Twitter channel describe itself as operating only during office working hours, “9am to 6pm, Mon – Fri (except public holidays)”?

Dear me. Weekend, then how? Public holiday – even worse.

Template or otherwise, it's not the first time this week the good people at SMRT have shown how woefully unprepared they are to face a new generation of commuters who demand and deserve better, and rightly so. (This is Singapore after all, isn’t it?)

Earlier this week, radio deejay Hossan Leong was "censured" for reading out a supposedly unverified tweet on air that said the Circle Line was down. Why? For apparently not waiting for an official statement from the transport operator.

Two days later, SMRT sent out the by now infamous “income opportunity” alert to their affiliated taxi company, telling its “partners” to take advantage of the commuter chaos caused by Thursday’s massive breakdown.

Blogger mrbrown even wrote on his blog that on one of the affected trains, an actual announcement on the public address said, "Due to a slight delay, there will be a delay."

One of the major fails during what has surely been the worst week of the transport operator’s history has been how slow they have been to communicate any major disruptions. The people are not asking for the cause because that understandably takes time.

People just want to find out if they can get to where they need to go in time. No ifs or buts or face-saving PR tactics -- just inform people what they need to know, preferably real-time. After all, there's no point hiding now because there is no place to hide.

Hopefully this lesson hasn't been lost on other government agencies out there that have often been criticised for “not getting it”.

(Updated) A full public inquiry has now been convened, says PM Lee, to determine the root cause of the breakdowns. A separate panel of experts will also do a "thorough check" on the healthiness of the rail network.

Hopefully, maybe either one of the two will be able to tell the people what SMRT so far hasn't been able to -- just what the hell has been going on.  

(Updated Sunday 728pm) SMRT have updated their Twitter channel. Its profile description now simply says "The official Twitter channel of SMRT".

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