Think Singapore’s MRT Is Bad? Wait Till You See the Public Transport Systems of Other Cities


Jeff Cuellar



What do you think of Singapore’s Mass Rail Transit (MRT) system? Sure, MRT stations are a bit more crowded, the trains are a little slower, and regular service disruptions since 2011 have made public transportation a tad troublesome at times – especially when you’re trying to get home after a long day’s work.

Aside from these “minor” inconveniences, is Singapore’s MRT system really that bad?

Well, you might want to re-think just how bad riding the MRT system can be. Because if you rode the public transportation systems in the following cities, you’d gladly ride the MRT any day:



Unfortunately, “Good” Just Isn’t Good Enough For Singaporeans

It’s no secret that people are… a little unhappy with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) over its management of public transportation in Singapore.

While LTA boasts that 9 out of 10 MRT (88.5%) commuters taking the Public Transport Customer Satisfaction Survey (PTCSS) were “satisfied” with public transport services in Singapore – the reality is that satisfaction is at its lowest point in the last seven years!

True, most Singaporeans are probably thankful that they’re not dealing with some of the other transportation systems shown on this list. But then again, this is Singapore, and people aren’t concerned about trains breaking down anywhere else when they’re late for work.

Singaporeans have a right to complain when its MRT system, which is proclaimed to be one of the world’s “best” transportation systems lets them down.


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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.

  • Donald P

    Singaporeans complain about every single thing anyway… what’s new?

    • idkwhattoputhereok

      Honestly, I used to be very proud of and pleased with Singapore’s MRT system. Lately however, it is ridiculous! Everyday when I knock off from work there are long queues at City Hall, and the lack of space in every train that passes by results in people rudely shoving their way in. (This also frequently occurs at Jurong East). Plus nowadays we get hassled by makciks at every station to “please move in so others can board” when there is realistically no space already.

      The train drivers keep jerking and halting the trains for no reason, resulting in the human anchovies stumbling around and banging into each other, probably because the train timings aren’t scheduled smoothly like they used to be.

      Unless you’ve travelled in a packed train at peak hour, I don’t think you know just how uncomfortable it is to be pressed up against someone with dubious hygiene and questionable odours who keeps snorting into your back.

      Unnecessary lines are being built when Singapore already has such a lack of space — do we really need another line at the Singapore Expo, for example?

      Prices are rising every year, which is understandable due to increasing fuel costs. (Probably due to the unnecessary added lines too.) However, instead of increasing quality, it is suffering!

      Yes we do complain, but there are reasons for it. If we want to be seen as a country of quality, our public transport has to improve substantially. Sorry for the essay, it really pisses me off when people write off complaints in Singapore because “we always complain”.

  • BK

    I am grateful to have the opportunities to travel to a few Asian countries and I must say that I am grateful for the reliable transportation system in Singapore. However, it is necessary to make positive and healthy comparison so that we do not become complacent. People are getting fed up with LTA because of the frequent price hike and yet we couldn’t say the same about the service standard.

  • Scopion

    I guess when you are touted as the world’s ‘best’, you expect nothing but the best. I’ve been to many countries and boarded the best and worst trains. What we take for granted is what is value-add for other countries. We cannot be complacent yet at the same time we have to be patient with the improvement works.

  • Guest

    how do smrt get 99.6% on time figures? refer to the image…
    i dont care how u compare to other countries. but when u increase fares almost every year and the company is earning millions every year, i expect better. and the worse is, our govt even spend taxpayers $ to buy trains n buses for them.

    • Junx

      One can only suspect that the 99.6% on time is defined based on the individual operator’s train schedule. Again this is not an apple-to-apple comparison as definitions may be different.

      Suppose that HK MTR trains are to arrive every 60secs during peak hours, and if they miss by 6 secs, it is probably considered a late arrival since it is 10% off the schedule.
      SG MRT trains arrive like once every 5 minutes during peak hours, so trains that arrive 20 secs late are still not considered as late.

      Lower expectations are always easier to meet.

      How are major disruptions as such indicated above are taken into consideration for late arrival? Is it taken just as one occurrence? Or should it be considered that all trains that get delayed are taken as not on time as well?

      Statistics can always be construed to mislead if the parameters are not defined to make sense.

  • kok hui koh

    but how do smrt get 99.6% on time figures? refer to the image…
    i dont care how u compare to other countries. but when u increase fares almost every year and the company is earning millions every year, i expect better. and the worse is, our govt even spend taxpayers $ to buy trains n buses for them.

    • idkwhattoputhereok

      I highly, highly doubt the 99.6% on time figure. Maybe in the past, but definitely not now. It’s ridiculous!

  • MK

    I get the point the article makes but let’s compare apple to apple. Comparing similar countries like Hong Kong and South Korea, Singaporeans monthly expenses is about the same or more but the punctuality is not much better. Take into account this is for less ridership numbers. Furthermore, considering the number of lines (Singapore is 5 lines while HK is 22 lines and S. Korea 19 lines) this also indicates Singapore commuters is paying more in the sense that less is done with what commuters pay than compared to similar countries. For the same cost to passengers, others have invested in 4 times more lines (and by implication more trains). In this perspective, perhaps it is no wonder Singaporeans are complaining.

  • Tze Thiam Ng

    Wow Korean is really efficient and cost saving. Why learn from UK which like US is only going to be bankrupt

    • PG


  • PG

    Singapore’s MRT is quite new and modern , but infrastructure has not kept up with population growth . Wait till you get like London which has had MRT since 1863 , and has been electrified since 1890 , before that was steam . As has been said compare the comparable .

  • PG

    Singapore’s MRT is very new and young , but will require experienced and dedicated engineers in the future to keep it running . SMRT a few years ago got rid of their experienced engineers in a cost cutting exercise , we all know who was responsible .
    The comparison chart does not take into account train frequency , age and size of the network , London’s MRT is one of the worlds oldest , going back to horse and steam propulsion .
    Singapore’s MRT system was very good a decade ago , but with obvious lack of experienced maintenance and excessive increase in population by the government , it has been pushed down the comfort and reliability ratings .

  • Zep

    I don’t care if Singapore got efficient transportation or not. All of you MotherFuckers down here don’t know how to cycle to work ha.?……… Bloody bitches…bitch about everything….wahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha lol

  • OldNerdGuy

    Not having train timings published online, not even operating hours, makes the SMRT stand out as rather third-worldish.