Downtown Line 3 (DTL3) - the eastern and final stretch of the 42km MRT line - opens today, offering commuters better connectivity across the island.
The line will bring train services to neighbourhoods that have never had an MRT station nearby, including Kaki Bukit, Bedok Reservoir and Bendemeer. But there is more good news ahead.
Commuters exiting one MRT station and getting to another sta-tion on a separate line on foot will soon be able to avoid paying a second boarding charge, and enjoy the same fare as those who do so at an interchange.
Officiating at the opening ceremony for the new line yesterday, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said a review of distance-based fare transfer rules will be undertaken to facilitate this.
"As our network becomes denser, MRT stations on different lines will be nearer to each other," he said. "In some instances, commuters may save time by exiting one station, walking over to another station and transferring to another line.
"Our fare structure currently does not provide for such transfers except at three stations, namely, Bukit Panjang, Newton and Tampines stations."
Commuters who do so at other stations will incur a second boarding charge.
I think (the Downtown Line 3) is called the makan line, because it is famous for so much good food.
THANKING THOSE INCONVENIENCED
To the residents especially, schools and businesses near our Downtown Line 3 construction sites, thank you very much for your patience and understanding over the past six years. We have caused you so much inconvenience, noise, dust and sleepless nights. For that, we should truly bow and apologise.
VERY HAPPY DAY
As Transport Minister, I have happy days and I have my fair share of stressful days. Today is a very happy day.
COORDINATING MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT KHAW BOON WAN, at the opening ceremony of Downtown Line 3 at Expo station.
There is a boarding charge of 77 cents for tapping in and out of any station, even without any travel.
Mr Khaw said the Public Transport Council (PTC) will review transfer rules in view of this. "I am sure PTC will examine the issue thoroughly to ensure fairness to commuters and taxpayers," he said.
Last month, the Land Transport Authority said a Walking Train Map will be progressively put up at 19 MRT stations, including Bugis, City Hall and Chinatown.
The map shows the walking time between stations to help commuters decide if they want to transfer train lines on foot. It should also help during rail breakdowns.
Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, welcomed the move.
"Making it more seamless for commuters to switch lines without incurring additional cost is a good initiative that will benefit all commuters," he said. "We must do whatever we can to encourage and incentivise more Singaporeans to use public transport."
Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan, who is also on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said such a move would allow commuters to connect between lines "quickly, conveniently and at a reasonable fare".
In his speech, Mr Khaw also called the DTL3 a game changer for those living in the east, noting that the journey for a Bedok Reservoir resident working in the Clarke Quay area will be shortened from one hour to 35 minutes.
The minister also outlined other ongoing plans to enhance the rail network.
The capacity of the older lines is being raised, so as to reduce the waiting time and overcrowding on trains as well as on station platforms. When the resignalling project on the North-South and East-West lines is completed some time in 2019, trains will be able to run closer to one another.
"This will allow us to add up to six more train trips every hour during peak periods," Mr Khaw said. "To do this, we have bought 57 new trains. Most of these new trains are already here."
More rail projects are in the pipeline as well. The first three stations on the Thomson-East Coast Line will open in 2019. The North-East Line extension will open in 2023, followed by the Jurong Region Line and Circle Line Stage 6 around 2025.
The Cross Island Line - the next major heavy rail project - will be ready around 2030.
By then, Singapore would have achieved its goal of eight in 10 households being within a 10-minute walk of a train station, said Mr Khaw.