LTA modifies MRT frequency to address crowding

The LTA said trains will run every three minutes during peak hours, down from five minutes.
The LTA said trains will run every three minutes during peak hours, down from five minutes.ST PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER TAN
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, trains ran at intervals of two minutes or less during peak hours.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, trains ran at intervals of two minutes or less during peak hours.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Trains should be less crowded from this week, after the Land Transport Authority (LTA) fine-tuned service frequency on Monday (April 20) following an outcry from commuters last week.

The LTA said trains will run every three minutes during peak hours, down from five minutes last Friday - the first day of adjustments to reflect lower demand following heightened safe distancing measures.

The five-minute frequency caused crowding on lines such as the North-South, East-West and Circle lines, triggering complaints by commuters who posted pictures of packed trains on Facebook.

This prompted Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan to step in. Mr Khaw said last Saturday: "I have told LTA to err on the side of generosity. That is, to over-provide rather than under-provide."

Before the pandemic, trains ran at intervals of two minutes or less during peak hours.

"Ensuring that commuters can maintain a safe distance from one another when on board our trains and buses during the circuit breaker period remains a priority," an LTA spokesman said.

"LTA and the public transport operators will continue to monitor the situation and fine-tune rail service capacity as necessary."

At the Serangoon interchange between 8.25am and 9.45am on Tuesday, there were significantly more commuters on the Circle Line (CCL) platform than on the North East Line (NEL) platform.

Trains were observed arriving within two minutes on the NEL, and between three and four minutes on the CCL.

On NEL trains, commuters were able to practise safe distancing with relative ease, while on CCL trains, this was not always the case.

 

Meanwhile, the LTA has not made further adjustments to train frequency during off-peak hours, nor to bus services. 

One Facebook user, Ms Ling Lng, posted a photo of a packed service 89 on Monday, complaining that with service 89e suspended, service 89’s frequency should have been increased. 

“Though fewer people are commuting to work, you can’t reduce the bus capacity to half and expect passengers to abide by social distancing,” she wrote.