SINGAPORE - Enhanced security screening measures similar to airport checks kicked off at selected MRT stations on Thursday (April 1).
Checks, including metal detector screening and X-ray scans, were conducted at random.
The Straits Times observed that for the most part, the enhanced screening was implemented smoothly at Bukit Gombak station on the North-South Line and Kembangan station on the East-West Line.
At each station, up to four transit security officers - privately-contracted from ST Engineering - were positioned with screening equipment just before the fare gate.
From 10.20am to 10.30am at Bukit Gombak station, eight commuters, all carrying bags, were approached at random to undergo the screening.
They were asked to empty their pockets and place all their belongings in a tray that went through an X-ray scanner.
After crossing a walk-through metal detector, they were scanned by a security officer using a handheld metal detector.
For most of them, the entire process took under 30 seconds.
In a statement issued on Thursday evening, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said the introduction of enhanced security screenings at selected MRT stations went smoothly, and that data from the first day of operations showed that the time taken to complete the process was - as observed by ST - less than 30 seconds.
“These checks are conducted at random and will not cause delays to most commuters,” said a spokesman.
LTA added that it would continue to work with public transport operators to review and enhance the process.
At Bukit Gombak station in the morning, several curious onlookers stopped to watch as well as read signs on two large standees.
One displayed a list of prohibited and controlled items such as knives, firearms and other weapons, while the other asked commuters to inform the screening officers of medical conditions or medical implants.
At Bukit Gombak station, Madam Coco Wong, 60, was slightly confused when asked to undergo the screening process.
The housewife told ST that she was worried that she would get into trouble for having food in her bag. Madam Wong, who speaks only Mandarin, also could not understand the security officer's instructions in English.
"It's quite troublesome and will take up time if I'm in a rush," she said.
But designer Muhd Fauzi, who was screened at Kembangan station, said the process was fast and of minimal inconvenience.
The 29-year-old was one of five commuters to be scanned between 12.30pm and 12.50pm.
He and Madam Wong said they understood that the check was a basic security measure, but were not aware of any need for stepped-up efforts.
"I'm not sure why, I don't read the news," said Madam Wong. "But I do feel safer with this implemented."
At Farrer Park station on the North East Line, security equipment was cordoned off and not in use on Thursday.
The screening equipment will be rotated periodically across MRT stations on all rail lines.
These measures work together with the Threat-Oriented Person Screening Integrated System (Topsis), a threat assessment programme under which more than 30,000 public transport staff have been trained to keep a lookout for suspicious items, people and activities, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Wednesday.
The roll-out on Thursday followed a six-month trial that began in November 2018.
ST understands that the larger roll-out of the enhanced screening measures took some time to implement owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.