Downtown Line sees 214k trips daily with new stage

Commuters at Bukit Panjang MRT on Dec 28, 2015.
Commuters at Bukit Panjang MRT on Dec 28, 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

First month's figure 'a good start', surge expected when DTL3 is up

The new Downtown Line is now averaging 214,000 trips a day one month after Stage 2, which serves the Bukit Timah corridor, opened.

Operator SBS Transit, which revealed the first-month figure, would not say if it is in line with expectations. But going by the Land Transport Authority's forecast daily ridership of 500,000 when Stage 3 opens next year, ridership for the first two stages is below the halfway mark.

Mr Lee Der-Horng, transport researcher with the National University of Singapore, estimates that the average loading for Downtown Line 2 (DTL2) is 57 per cent.

"There is room to grow, but it is a good start," he said. "I personally take DTL2 on a daily basis and what I like is its connectivity."

SIM University Adjunct Associate Professor Park Byung Joon said it is too early to gauge if ridership numbers are on target.

He said ridership will surge when all three stages are open.

"If a route is doubled, it will serve the travel needs of more than twice the number of commuters," he said.

Hence, it is not uncommon for ridership on a half-completed line to be less than half of the total expected figure, he said.

Stage 2, which opened on Dec 27 last year, has 12 stations, mostly along Bukit Timah and Upper Bukit Timah. Stage 1, which opened slightly more than two years ago, has six stops in the city.

SBS Transit yesterday said the stations with the highest commuter traffic on Stage 1 and Stage 2 are Newton, Bukit Panjang, Bugis and Downtown.

Its spokesman, Ms Tammy Tan, said: "We are encouraged by the positive reception to our newly opened stations."

Junior college student Woo Yao Jie, 16, said he used the line when he did part-time work in Marina Bay Sands earlier this month.

"I take the North-South Line from Novena to Newton station. From there, I go straight to Bayfront," he said. "It's really convenient. I use it also when I hang out with my friends in Bugis."

Commuters can expect more convenience when Stage 3 opens next year.

The final stretch of the $21 billion 42km line heads east, with stops in densely developed areas such as Jalan Besar, Kallang Bahru, Kaki Bukit, Bedok and Tampines.

And by 2025, a 2km extension will link Downtown Line 3 to the Thomson-East Coast Line, which is expected to be completed in 2024.

The Downtown Line is part of the Government's plan to double Singapore's rail network to 360km by 2030. By then, eight in 10 households will be within a 10-minute walk of a train station.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 29, 2016, with the headline 'Downtown Line sees 214k trips daily with new stage'. Print Edition | Subscribe