DTL2 a relief for Bukit Panjang residents

A light morning peak-hour crowd at the Bukit Panjang MRT station yesterday. The 16.6km Downtown Line 2, comprising 12 stations, connects the estate to places such as Little India, Bukit Timah and Bugis - with stops including Botanic Gardens and food
A light morning peak-hour crowd at the Bukit Panjang MRT station yesterday. The 16.6km Downtown Line 2, comprising 12 stations, connects the estate to places such as Little India, Bukit Timah and Bugis - with stops including Botanic Gardens and food haven Beauty World.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

They have long complained of lack of public transport options to the city

There was a steady stream of people at Bukit Panjang MRT station yesterday morning - the first work day after the second phase (DTL2) of the Downtown Line opened officially on Sunday.

Many people familiarised themselves with the route, leaving their cars at home or skipping the bus.

The 16.6km DTL2, comprising 12 stations, connects the estate to places such as Little India, Bukit Timah and Bugis. Stops along the line include the Botanic Gardens and food haven Beauty World.

Many Bukit Panjang residents, who have long complained about the lack of public transport options, were glad to be able to take the train instead of the bus to the city.

Ms Cindy Loh, 42, for instance, took the train to Newton. The human resources executive said: "It usually takes me about 40 minutes if I take bus service 190. But today, it took me only 20 minutes."

She was especially happy that she no longer has to endure traffic jams.

Others, such as housewife Goh Siew Hing, 52, took the chance to venture to Chinatown, which is also along the line, to have breakfast with her mother and friends.

"Previously, we had breakfast only in Fajar, or somewhere in Bukit Panjang. Now we can eat in Chinatown," she said.

Some others who live near the line took the train to show their children how to get to their new schools.

One of them, Mr Ronnie Sim, 46, a sales manager, went from Hillview to Stevens station with his wife and daughter, who will soon be attending Singapore Chinese Girls' School, which is a short walk from the MRT station.

While there were no major hiccups, the train doors at the Botanic Gardens station did not open and some passengers had to go to the next station to return to Botanic Gardens. This happened just once, for a short while.

Ms Tammy Tan, SBS Transit's senior vice-president of corporate communications, said it was due to a momentary train signalling fault and the train continued on its journey without further issues, opening and closing its doors at all other stations.

Until Jan 1, rides will be free on DTL2 and Downtown Line 1, which opened two years ago and has six stations.

However, commuters transferring from Newton MRT station on the North-South Line or from the Bukit Panjang LRT system to the DTL2 will have to tap out before getting to the DTL2.

If they want to enjoy the free travel on DTL2 until Jan 1, they have to wait for 15 minutes before entering the line. Commuters who transfer lines within 15 minutes will be charged distance-based fares.

The Land Transport Authority said that over the next few days, there will be more than 320 volunteers, including residents and staff, helping commuters at the 12 new Downtown Line stations.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2015, with the headline 'DTL2 a relief for Bukit Panjang residents'. Print Edition | Subscribe