Commuters regret inconvenience but hopeful it will pay off

LTA and SMRT announced that 17 East-West Line stations and two North-South Line stations - Bukit Gombak and Bukit Batok - would have shorter operating hours on most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays next month.
LTA and SMRT announced that 17 East-West Line stations and two North-South Line stations - Bukit Gombak and Bukit Batok - would have shorter operating hours on most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays next month. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Commuters said the planned shorter operating hours for some MRT stations next month would be an inconvenience, but it would be worth it if the maintenance work to be done during that time paid off.

At a press conference yesterday, the Land Transport Authority and SMRT announced that 17 East-West Line stations and two North-South Line stations - Bukit Gombak and Bukit Batok - would have shorter operating hours on most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays next month.

On these days, service will end at 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and start at 8am on Saturdays and Sundays, to facilitate resignalling and other renewal/maintenance works.

Project engineer Desiree Tiangco, 27, believes that the shorter hours would be inconvenient, especially for those who work on weekends. She works every Saturday, travelling from Yew Tee to Jurong East by 7am. She said she might have to take a taxi from Bukit Gombak to Jurong East for a while.

Ms Tiangco said: "The trains here are the No. 1 transport option for many people, so this is a sacrifice for everyone, but I hope the trains will be better after this."

Another weekend worker, Ms Grace Fu, 60, a supermarket retail assistant who works in Clementi, will have to take two buses instead of the train for her journey from Bukit Gombak. "Although there has been many delays lately, trains are still faster," she said.

Engineer Ken Lim, 31, who commutes from Clementi to Tai Seng for work, said people who have difficulty getting around might find it more difficult to navigate the extra crowds on buses now.

Yesterday, it was also announced that the suspension of train service between Joo Koon and Gul Circle stations will remain until mid-2018.

Sales administrator Cindy Tan, 33, who works near the latter, said: "I am disappointed with this disruption because we only managed to enjoy the Tuas West Extension for about five months before the collision happened last week. There is usually a jam near Gul Circle in the morning and evening peak hours, so it is a headache... that this non-service will continue until next year."

Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said the early closures were "definitely worth a try" if they allowed maintenance work to be completed faster, thus reducing the frequency of delays.

"This could alleviate some of the frustrations our commuters face as we work hard towards completing the resignalling works," he said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2017, with the headline 'Commuters regret inconvenience but hopeful it will pay off'. Print Edition | Subscribe