Planned MRT closures: Help at hand for commuters

Grassroots volunteers hand out info, answer questions closure of East-West line stations

Aerial view of train at Tampines MRT Station. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

Wearing wide smiles, 10 grassroots volunteers deployed at Tampines MRT station handed out information leaflets, answered questions from commuters and shouted "No train service today".

Pre-school centre manager Brenda de Silva, 41, directed the crowd to other modes of transport for over two hours on Sunday, soldiering on despite a heel injury that requires her to wear a leg cast.

She was one of about 100 Community Emergency Response Team (Cert) volunteers helping commuters to navigate the planned closure of the East-West line stations on Sunday.

Cert volunteers are trained in skills such as first aid and crowd control, to handle emergencies and crisis situations as part of the People's Association (PA) emergency preparedness.

Formed in 2004, Cert has 900 groups of volunteers across various constituencies today, each with about 20 members.

Over at Pasir Ris MRT station, some 15 volunteers also advised commuters on alternative routes.

A PA spokesman said: "Our volunteers respond because they want to help fellow residents whose lives may be affected by train disruptions, no different from how they would respond if residents were affected by other crises."

A Land Transport Authority spokesman said the volunteers had pitched in as "they are most familiar with the surroundings and residents who may need assistance".

Pointing to a bus stop more than 100m away from Pasir Ris station, volunteer Raymond Wong, 35, said the rail operators did not have enough manpower to station people along the way to reassure commuters that they were headed in the right direction.

"We can be stationed along the walkway to assure commuters, to tell them yes, you are going the right path, please continue on. People will feel better about their situation," said Mr Wong, who works in the telecommunications industry.

"I wouldn't call a planned closure a national emergency," he added.

"But a train breakdown can be chaotic and it is a big issue to some people. As grassroots, we are here to assure our neighbours and friends."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2018, with the headline Planned MRT closures: Help at hand for commuters. Subscribe