Joo Koon-Gul Circle closure: Additional travel time for Tuas commuters

Commuters at Joo Koon MRT station on Nov 20, 2017.
Commuters at Joo Koon MRT station on Nov 20, 2017.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Train operator SMRT provided free bridging buses between the Joo Koon and Gul Circle MRT stations.
Train operator SMRT provided free bridging buses between the Joo Koon and Gul Circle MRT stations. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Train operator SMRT provided free bridging buses between the Joo Koon and Gul Circle MRT stations.
Train operator SMRT provided free bridging buses between the Joo Koon and Gul Circle MRT stations. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Train operator SMRT provided free bridging buses between the Joo Koon and Gul Circle MRT stations.
Train operator SMRT provided free bridging buses between the Joo Koon and Gul Circle MRT stations. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Commuters heading towards or away from Tuas on Monday (Nov 20) had to contend with additional travelling time due to the closure of the line between Joo Koon and Gul Circle stations.

Passengers had to disembark at Joo Koon or Gul Circle stations - with train operator SMRT providing free bridging buses between the two - before rejoining the train network.

Warehouse officer Terrence Yap, 35, who works in Tuas West, said it was very inconvenient. He had to alight at Joo Koon, take a 10-minute shuttle bus to Gul Circle, and board the train again towards Tuas West Road.

“I had to add another 15 minutes to travel,” he said. “It’s very inconvenient to get off just for one stop. It was actually better last week because at least the bus stopped at every station and I didn’t have to get back on the train.” Mr Yap added: “It’ll be better if the shuttle buses continue to stop at each station too.”  

The free shuttle buses, all double-decker ones, moved off every one to three minutes, depending on the load of each bus.

There was a steady stream of commuters heading out from Joo Koon station during the morning rush hour between 7am and 8.30am, with many rushing to catch the free shuttle buses towards Gul Circle.

Train services between Gul Circle and Tuas Link resumed on Monday morning, after services were suspended on Thursday following a train collision the day before at Joo Koon station that left 38 injured.

The cause was a signalling glitch that happened when a train crossed over from the old signalling system used on the East-West Line to the new one used on the Tuas West Extension.

Telco controller Kavitha Supramaniam, 22, said she had to wake up half an hour earlier to compensate for the additional travel time.

"The journey took longer than usual because there's traffic on the road when you take the bus," she said.

 

Some companies continued to arrange for free shuttle buses of their own to get their employees directly to their workplaces.

Engineer Wang Hai Long, 38, who works at ICF International in Tuas South Street, said the company is providing transport for all its employees until regular train services resume.

"It's not a big company, so most of us can get there within two runs of the company bus," he said. "Our boss is quite understanding. Also there's no choice, we still have to go and do our work."

Mr Michael Tan, the facilities manager for ICF International’s Tuas office, said the company has an existing shuttle service for employees from Tuas West Road MRT station to the office which was redeployed to pick them up at Joo Koon instead. 

“We used to make three trips in the morning, but now, there are only two pick-up timings for employees because of the longer distance,” he said. “There’s definitely a slight increase in cost because the bus has to travel farther, and some workers can’t come in on time, but we work with whatever happens to SMRT.”