Monday, August 1, 2011

Train Crowding in Singapore expected to ease

I take MRT to work every day from Tanah Merah MRT station on East West MRT Line. Although Tanah Merah is the 4th station to the city center, the cars nowadays are sardine can full starting from just the second MRT station, Tampines. SMRT, the operator of the MRT trains on this line, I guess is pushing itself to the limits, it is nowadays also very common to have long delays on the MRT trains.

Last week there were 2 delays. I was so pissed of that (not about delays but lack of any warning sign outside the MRT boards about these delays) I have decided to find an alternative way to work. Many thinks MRT lacks competition and alternatives (which is true) so these guys really do not have so much pressure on them to increase their service quality. But I think this does not mean they are not trying to do best they can. SMRT announced that the minimum time between two trains can be 120 seconds due to signalling constraints on EW line. I have spent time to check the time between two trains during peak hour and it is really 120 seconds +-5 seconds. It seems like the current inconveniences are caused more a combination of factors such as fast population rise, exodus to city fringes due to high rental/sale prices of properties and of course high car prices.
Anyway, I have found out a bus from the bus station just outside of my HDB to the station just out of my work. The problem is the time it takes to arrive to work. With MRT + walk it takes 45 minutes from door to door. With this bus, it takes 1.5 hours! But I was so unhappy with the MRT service and day by day increasing crowd, I tried to give a chance to this SBS bus. One man less would be good for MRT riders and a SMRT probably deserved to lose one customer with last week’s delays.

I have to wake up half an hour earlier and I arrive to my workplace 15 minutes later. But I can sleep on the bus and even can go through my emails and reply them so I do not loose so much time from sleep and work actually. Unfortunately this setting works only in the morning and when I am heading to my office. Still, it works and I will stick to it for a while.

Tanah Merah MRT Station
The times I really need to get an MRT in peak hours, I choose to go back all the way from Tanah Merah to first MRT station Pasir Ris and get a train from there. As long as there is not an elderly or pregnant woman to give seat I can seat all the way to city centre. Most of the time I give away the seat (never saw someone sitting at the priority seat doing so!) but still I enjoy being away from the door which is more comfortable than the door side.

Luckily, it seems like the relief is on its way and it is not only the opening of the west arc of the circle line:

“Transport Minister Mr. Lui Tuck Yew noted that the frequencies during the peak hour are limited with the signalling equipment but there is a possibility to increase it and the LTA and SMRT are finalizing their plans to improve their frequency and they will announce in due course”.

“With the completion of the Jurong East Modification Project and injection of five additional trains since May, Mr. Lui noted some improvements in the train loading along the critical stretches of the North-South and East-West lines. To increase capacity, 17 more trains will be added by December while an additional 13 trains will be added into the North-South and East-West lines around 2014 and 2015.”
 Source: Today 

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