SINGAPORE - All 35 stations on the East-West Line (EWL) will close about an hour earlier at 11pm on Friday (March 2) - the first in a series of shortened MRT operating hours during weekends in March.
This is to cater for more time for engineering works and the testing of a new signalling system for the EWL.
When The Straits Times visited Outram Park MRT station at about 10.30pm, barricades were being set up for crowd control at the shuttle bus bay.
Administrative executive Fiona Leong, 30, was one of the commuters rushing to catch the last train on the line. She had been visiting her fiance at the Singapore General Hospital and was on her way home to Tampines.
"I found out about the early closure from a sign while topping up my ez-link card this morning. But if I can't catch the last train I will walk to Chinatown station to take the Downtown line instead," she said.
At 11.10pm, about 30 commuters were seen lining up for the SMRT shuttle bus towards Buona Vista with stops at Tiong Bahru, Queenstown and Commonwealth.
The cost for the shuttle bus followed the same fare structure as the trains.
One of the commuters in the queue was accountant Kayra Chen, 33, who was headed to Commonwealth MRT station.
She was coming from Dhoby Gaut MRT station and transiting to the EWL at Outram Park when she found out about the closure.
"It's a bit inconvenient but still okay," she said. "The transport better improve after all these closures though."
On Saturday (March 3), the stations will also open later at 8am and close at 11pm. And on Sunday (March 4), stations will similarly open at 8am.
A similar schedule will be repeated every weekend this month until April 1.
On March 12 and 14, during the March school holidays, the EWL stations will also close earlier at 10.30pm.
Trains usually run from 5.30am to about midnight daily.
To provide commuters with alternative transport during the shorter MRT operation hours, six shuttle bus services will be provided. They will run parallel to stretches of the EWL and stop at designated pick-up and drop-off points near MRT stations along the way.
These shuttle buses will run at intervals of between three and 15 minutes, depending on the service.
Four express bus services will also be deployed to complement the shuttle services.
Two of them will provide commuters with direct connections to the city area, while the other two will connect commuters from the East-West Line to the Downtown Line.
Vehicle-pooling specialist ShareTransport is also offering buses for commuters affected by shorter MRT hours for $4.99 per trip with guaranteed seating.
It will deploy 13-seater and 23-seater minibuses on four pilot routes along the East-West MRT line and pick up passengers from Clarke Quay, Plaza Singapura, Raffles City and Suntec City. Its buses will head for Jurong, Bedok, Tampines and Pasir Ris.
Seats may be booked through its mobile app.
In a press release last week, rail operator SMRT advised commuters to cater for additional travel time when using the shuttle bus services.
"As the timing of the first and last departing train may vary from station to station, commuters are advised to check the respective timings before making their journey.
"Commuters travelling longer distances may wish to plan their journeys using other operational MRT lines, or seek alternative travel options, for a faster journey," SMRT added.