The long-awaited Hume station on the Downtown Line will be open by 2025, Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said yesterday.
While the station was built as a "shell station" with the second phase of the Downtown Line - the first phase of which opened in 2015 - the pace of developments and ridership growth in the area did not warrant its opening then, he said in the debate on his ministry's budget.
Since then, however, the Rail Corridor has been redeveloped and it was announced on Wednesday that the former Bukit Timah Fire Station is to be developed as a recreational node.
"With all these developments, there will be sufficient ridership to justify opening Hume Station," said Dr Janil, who is also the Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information.
"Likewise, further addition of new bus services in Bukit Gombak will depend on the pace of developments and ridership growth in the area," he added, in his reply to Southwest District Mayor Low Yen Ling (Chua Chu Kang GRC).
He noted that the opening of the Hume MRT station was due to the efforts of people like Ms Low, who is a senior parliamentary secretary. She has repeatedly asked for the station in her district to be opened.
When she asked if the station could be ready before 2025, Dr Janil said the station needs to be built, and its opening to coincide with developments coming up in the area.
While rail remains the backbone of Singapore's public transport network, a balance has to be met between managing costs and benefiting the most number of people possible in deciding where to extend the rail network to, he added.
Nominated MP Arasu Duraisamy had asked if an MRT line could be extended to Tuas South to serve workers there, adding that the line could run via Jurong Island to benefit workers there as well.
Dr Janil said the Tuas South area is "still in the initial stages of development, and there is not enough ridership in the near to medium term to support an MRT line".
He noted two new bus services have been introduced since 2017, when the Tuas West Extension of the East-West MRT line opened. Tuas South workers will also benefit from the upcoming Jurong Region line (JRL) and Cross Island line.
Though there are no plans for a station on Jurong Island, the future Jurong Pier MRT Station - to be located near the Jurong Island Checkpoint - will serve workers there once the JRL is ready in 2028.
Dr Janil added that the building of a station on Jurong Island was unlikely to make commuting more convenient for workers, as they would still have to go through the checkpoint and transfer to a last-mile shuttle to their workplaces.
Mr Arasu, however, noted that the Founders' Memorial MRT Station on the Thomson-East Coast line - expected to open in 2025 in tandem with a memorial to Singapore's founders - is being built despite a lack of developments in the area.
Dr Janil replied that the expansion of the network is based on projected demand, and current projections for Tuas South do not justify building an extension, though this may change in the longer term.