Downtown Line: Ideas to shape passengers' behaviour will be put to the test

The first stage of the Downtown Line opens on Dec 22 and will test ideas to make riding the train more pleasant for everyone. -- ST PHOTOS: CAROLINE CHIA
The first stage of the Downtown Line opens on Dec 22 and will test ideas to make riding the train more pleasant for everyone. -- ST PHOTOS: CAROLINE CHIA
The first stage of the Downtown Line opens on Dec 22 and will test ideas to make riding the train more pleasant for everyone. -- ST PHOTOS: CAROLINE CHIA
The first stage of the Downtown Line opens on Dec 22 and will test ideas to make riding the train more pleasant for everyone. -- ST PHOTOS: CAROLINE CHIA
The first stage of the Downtown Line opens on Dec 22 and will test ideas to make riding the train more pleasant for everyone. -- ST PHOTOS: CAROLINE CHIA
The first stage of the Downtown Line opens on Dec 22 and will test ideas to make riding the train more pleasant for everyone. -- ST PHOTOS: CAROLINE CHIA
The first stage of the Downtown Line opens on Dec 22 and will test ideas to make riding the train more pleasant for everyone. -- ST PHOTOS: CAROLINE CHIA
The first stage of the Downtown Line opens on Dec 22 and will test ideas to make riding the train more pleasant for everyone. -- ST PHOTOS: CAROLINE CHIA

The first stage of the Downtown Line opens on Dec 22 and will test ideas to make riding the train more pleasant for everyone.

The platforms at the six stations will have two new types of queue lines to nudge people to enter trains in a more orderly fashion.

At Telok Ayer and Promenade stations, the lines will be drawn parallel to platform doors, showing clearly where to queue. This is similar to queue lines at some Taipei metro stations.

The Chinatown, Downtown, Bayfront and Bugis stations will have a modified version of existing queue lines, with markings spaced wider apart, forming a bigger "funnel" for entering and leaving the the trains.

Other measures to be tried out include playing soft music at platforms to soothe frazzled nerves, and painting reserved seats with eye-catching designs.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo told The Sunday Times the idea is to apply "design thinking" to shape commuter behaviour.

The initiatives followed a study of 1,000 commuters conducted by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) from February to July.

Mrs Teo had mooted the study and wanted to know how important it was to address the issue of graciousness on the trains, and what would work to improve people's travel experience.

The study found that bad behaviour - such as not queueing and crowding the area near the train doors instead of moving in - had the strongest influence on whether commuters had a pleasant or unpleasant ride.

Passenger behaviour mattered more to those surveyed than factors such as station design and how crowded the train was.

Mrs Teo said: "Our instincts were correct. We always knew that commuter behaviour was a big influence on the commuting experience, but we didn't have a measure of the extent."

She noted that the LTA is already doing a lot to improve reliability and inject capacity into the MRT network, but it was equally important to think about shaping commuter behaviour.

The new schemes will be tested at the first stage of the Downtown Line - the DTL1 - and if they work, they could be extended to other MRT lines.

To encourage more commuters to move into the carriages and away from the doors, the DTL1 trains will feature three rows of handrails instead of the usual one or two.

Mrs Teo said the LTA is also considering installing TV screens in the middle of trains to encourage people to move in.

Commuters got a first look at the new queue lines and reserved seat designs during an open house yesterday that featured free train rides, music and activities. About 40,000 people turned up.

Polytechnic student Chris Selvakumar, 20, thinks the new parallel queue lines will make boarding and alighting more orderly.

He said: "The lines are designed so there is one way into the train and one way out. This makes it easier. They should experiment with this in other MRT lines."

roysim@sph.com.sg